As it makes moves towards a single Windows platform for 64-bit computing, Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday offered to customers in its preview program new 64-bit desktop software builds as well as a fresher Windows Server 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition.
In addition, the Redmond, Wash. company said it had changed the name of its Windows XP 64-bit for Extended 64-bit Systems to Windows XP Professional x64 Edition.
This prerelease software, which support both Intel- and AMD x64-compatible platforms, is available for evaluation through the Customer Preview Program for the XP Professional x64 Edition and for the Server 2003 Edition.
Windows XP Professional x64 Edition is expected to ship in the first half of 2005 as it is part of the Windows Server 2003 SP1 ship schedule and will be released at the same time as that product. Microsoft said in July that it was pushing back these releases from the end of this year as a result of delays with Windows XP SP2
A Microsoft spokesman told eWEEK on Wednesday that Windows XP Professional x64 Edition will be priced at the same level as the current 32-bit Windows XP Professional Edition, while the Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions will be priced on par with the existing 32-bit Windows Server 2003.
Microsoft has also been working on a new x64 Technology Exchange Program. Under this program, Microsoft will allow customers with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Opteron and Intel Corp. Xeon processors with EM64T servers running 32-bit Windows to exchange their operating system for the forthcoming 64-bit Windows Server 2003 variants for free.
“The new technology exchange program allows customers of any size—from consumer through enterprise—the ability to buy x64 hardware with 32-bit Windows today and move to 64-bit when it is available. This can be an OEM or system builder machine, or even a PC that the customer builds on his or her own,” the spokesman said.
Windows XP Professional x64 Edition will include near-feature parity with the 32-bit version of Windows XP Professional, including the device infrastructure to support a range of solutions. The spokesman said it will provide customers the versatility and choice to continue receiving benefits from their existing investments in 32-bit computing as well as the ability to easily take advantage of the latest cutting-edge 64-bit applications.
Updates to this latest beta version include current 32-bit features such as the Luna user interface, Windows Messenger, Windows Media Player, Movie Maker 2, Bluetooth support infrastructure, wireless support infrastructure, Power Management, support for .NET Framework 1.1 and language support for a number of Asian and European languages.