Microsoft's Itanium, Server Decisions Hint at Business Shift
Microsoft's decision to end support for Intel's Itanium chip in its server architecture, along with terminating future development of its Essential Business Server, suggests that the company is attempting to shift its server business to take advantage of what it sees as developments in both the processor architecture and cloud computing space. At the same time, its moves in the consumer space, including the brutal elimination of several legacy products and the upcoming release of several new ones, suggest a parallel streamlining of its products.Microsoft's recent decision to end support for Intel's Itanium chip in its server architecture, along with the elimination of its Essential Business Server (EBS) development, suggests that the company is trying to reposition to take advantage of several developing business IT trends, including virtualization and cloud computing. That paradigm shift is also mirrored on the consumer side, where at least one analyst has seen the recent wave of products as evidence that Microsoft is trying to retake ground lost over the past couple of years to Google and other companies.
Microsoft plans on ending support for Intel's Itanium chip in its server software was based on the belief that later advances in chip technology have made its architecture dispensable. As a result, Windows Server 2008 R2 will likely be the last version of Windows Server to support Itanium. Intel's EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing) architecture chips will receive their last go-round from Microsoft in the SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 products. "The natural evolution of the x86 64-bit (-x64') architecture has led to the creation of processors and servers which deliver the scalability and reliability needed for today's -mission critical' workloads," Dan Reger, a Microsoft senior technical product manager, wrote in an April 2 post on the Windows Server blog. "Just this week, both Intel and AMD have released new high core-count processors, and servers with eight or more x64 processors have now been announced by a full dozen server manufacturers. Such servers contain 64 to 96 processor cores, with more on the horizon."
Extended support for Itanium-based systems and R2 will continue through July 2018, added Reger. "Microsoft will continue to focus on the x64 architecture and its new business-critical role, while we continue to support Itanium customers for the next eight years as this transition is completed."