The Transition to 64

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-04-25 Print this article Print

-Bit Computing"> Gates also used his keynote to look at the past two decades of computing, starting in 1980 with Xenix and MS DOS 1.0, and then Windows 1.01 released in 1985, followed by Windows 3.0 and 3.1 in the early 90s. The release of Windows 95 in 1995 took Windows mainstream, he said, adding that the 12 years from 1980 to 1992 encapsulated the era of 16-bit computing, while 1992 through 2005 made up the era of 32-bit computing. The next decade, Gates said, will revolve around 64-bit computing. "This is the decade of pervasiveness, of business, entertainment and scheduling being done in a digital way in the 64-bit space, with the software runtimes that allow any piece of software to connect across the Web," he said. "This is the decade of greatest opportunity and greatest competition.
"The 64-bit generation moved the bar higher and brought performance benefits, large memory support, an enhanced layer of hardware protection, especially the no-execute bit, which defeats a large class of exploits," Gates told the audience.
Users also can run 32-bit and 64-bit applications simultaneously without any slowdown, but the device drivers for 64-bit computing must be 64-bit drivers and the developers need to write them, he said, making this point repeatedly during his 90-minute address. "We are going to see the adoption of 64-bit computing happen quite rapidly, especially on the server side. We started piloting this, but the performance improvements with Windows Terminal Server, at 2.7 times, drove enthusiasm and adoption of this far more rapidly than we anticipated," Gates said. Analysts say the midmarket may be slower to make 64-bit moves than Microsoft expects. Click here to read more. Jay Kenny, a product manager in the Windows group, demonstrated NewTek LightWave 3D, which has been used to create computer animation for Hollywood, showing how Windows 64-bit computing is making this easier. "NewTek is leading this charge, including animation in movies like The Aviator, and it has already fully ported to 64 bit natively," he said. Showing 32-bit and 64-bit development environments side by side, Kenny said the 64-bit environment was more realistic and allowed lighting, fog and animation to be added in several layers." Windows Server x64 can reduce the time of a 12-second clip significantly, allowing it to be rendered overnight rather than taking three days with 32 bit, he said. Gates said Microsoft is proud of these releases, which also form the base on which Longhorn will be built. The 64-bit server releases support both the x86 and Itanium 64-bit architectures, he said. Next Page: Moving 64-Bit-Support into Server Territory

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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