Microsoft Has Eyes for 64-Bit-Only

Microsoft will continue aggressively pushing customers toward the 64-bit computing platform by making a number of upcoming products only in 64-bit versions.

Microsoft Corp. will continue aggressively pushing customers toward the 64-bit computing platform by making a number of upcoming products only in 64-bit versions.

The next version of Exchange, known as Microsoft Exchange Server 12—as well as the upcoming "Longhorn" release of Windows Small Business Server and Centro, the code name for Microsofts infrastructure solution under development for midsize businesses—will be released only as 64-bit and optimized for x64 hardware.

Also, while the first release of the upcoming Windows Server family of products will be both 32-bit and 64-bit, future updates will bring about the complete transition to 64-bit-only hardware while still benefiting from 32-bit and 64-bit application compatibility, company officials said.

John Engates, chief technology officer at Rackspace Managed Hosting, in San Antonio, supports Microsofts decision to start making some of its products 64-bit-only. "I believe that there is always a tough decision to be made in terms of moving forward with new technology while maintaining backward compatibility. In our world of managed hosting, customers are always pushing us to get them more horsepower. We already need 64-bit; well offer 64-bit as soon as possible," Engates said.

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The cost of moving to 64-bit was not a huge burden for Rackspace since the benefits gained in performance are worth the costs, he said, adding that many of the servers in his companys production environment are already enabled to take advantage of 64-bit. By the time many of the products on Microsofts road map are released, the vast majority of Rackspaces customers will be on hardware that is ready for 64-bit, he said.

"The increase in the amount of usable memory will play the biggest role in removing bottlenecks from our customers applications," Engates said.

Asked about the hardware requirements for customers making the move to 64-bit computing, Microsoft officials said most new hardware available today is already x64-capable and that customers with legacy hardware will be able to run a mixed mode of 32-bit and 64-bit.

"But they will not be able to run Exchange 12 on 32-bit gear. This is an important leap, particularly in the case of Exchange, where the mail store requires massive scalability and the limits on memory have customers bumping into that," Engates said.

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