Intels announcement Friday that it is accelerating its roadmap by about two years to provide 32-/64-bit support and dual core potentially changes the sweet spots for ordering new hardware, while starting the clock for the obsolescence of 32-bit desktop technology and nailing the coffin shut on 16-bit legacy code.
The shift in Intel strategy likely came as the result of a strong Microsoft push, unanticipated by many, toward the 64-bit platform, which in turn was largely driven by an almost rabid desire by that company to secure its platforms against the increasing onslaught of viruses and attacks.
Microsoft knows it cant just patch the code it has, but rather has to get the industry to move to a new generation of secure code, or the work its done to secure its platforms wont bear fruit.
Microsoft simply does not have the capability to deal with third-party code, which remains the strongest reason why much of the market locks in on older operating systems and cant install patches in a timely way.
This also creates an interesting dynamic—Windows XP 64-Bit Edition will be the only complete operating system with all security patches in place until, and unless, the Windows XP version code-named "Reloaded" is released in 2005. This means that for at least a year, the most up-to-date platform from Microsoft will be the 64 bit platform and not the 32-bit platform.
Given that, in this instance, the technology we are referring to has to do with the security of the system and not the performance of it, this is a very important distinction and drives to the conclusion that Longhorn, the next full release of Windows, will largely be a 64-bit platform. This may also result in a series of decisions that will either move the release of "Reloaded" in, or eliminate it altogether as redundant.