Microsoft Corp. used its recent annual WinHEC conference in Seattle to give more specifics about the roadmap for the release of Longhorn, the next version of Windows, as well as to talk up potential future adoption of 64-bit computing. Jim Allchin, Microsofts group vice president of platforms, sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli after his keynote address.
You talked about a new technology that allows devices and PCs to power up from a "sleeping" state in under 2 seconds called "Instant On" in your keynote. Is this technology in any shipping products yet?
This is fabulous technology, and the work around this has been quite something. We havent decided when to include it in a shipping product as yet, but it will be soon. What you saw was work that dealt with a whole lot of the peripherals, but we can get the amperage down to 50 percent if we do the rest of the work. We are almost there, and that to me is just a mindblower in terms of the impact it can have.
Microsoft has been talking a lot about the potential pervasiveness of 64-bit computing by the time Longhorn ships. Do you agree with that scenario?
I see the adoption of 64-bit computing moving pretty rapidly as I see few compatibility issues, other than the drivers, which could slow it down, and thats another reason why we have to take a hard bet on it. So the compatibility is very good in terms of applications, and the second thing is the cost: Conceptually theres no price difference. If thats true, then, wow, why dont you get it and make the 32-bit applications running on the 64-bit operating system faster, and there are other nice neat things about address spaces.
So, will Longhorn be based on a ?
We will have a 64-bit version of Longhorn, no question. Will we have a 32-bit version? The plan is yes, but now, if we learn a lot between now and then, that might change. But right now we are staying the course and it is so hard to predict how fast the run rate will be. We know where AMD [Advanced Micro Devices Inc.] will be, we know pretty much where Intel [Corp.] will be. I think we just have to wait a little bit.
So, if you decided not to have a 32-bit version of Longhorn, those customers would not get Longhorn?
Thats why were not going down that road. Theres no reason why we have to do that. Its sort of an academic discussion.
Can you tell me what the reference architecture is for Longhorn?
I dont know if thats public yet. Youre talking about memory size, processors and all that? I dont think weve made a final decision,n and I dont think we will until we hit Beta 1. We have targets inside, and we may have gotten feedback on this from some select people, but its just too early.