Microsoft on Wednesday formally announced two versions of Windows that will support Intel's upcoming Itanium 64-bit processor – one for workstations and one for servers.
The workstation version of Windows XP built for 64-bit processing will ship on Oct 25, when the company's 32-bit Windows XP desktop systems are slated to launch. Microsoft's 64-bit Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition is scheduled for final release in the third quarter of 2001.
Microsoft will fully support Windows XP 64-Bit Edition through the Early Deployment Program before its final release, according to company officials.
"Microsoft is fully committed to the Itanium program and is working closely with Intel, our customers, and industry partners to ensure that Windows provides unmatched support for 64-bit computing and that the best of the industry's hardware and software is available when we launch," Brian Valentine, senior vice president of Microsoft's Windows Division, said in a statement.
Valentine pledged Microsoft's help in getting software vendors to write to the Itanium processor. Microsoft said its applications eventually will be written for 64-bit processing, although company officials did not offer a timeframe for that effort.
"The problem any potential clients of IA-64 have been facing is a really high reluctance to put any operating system into production that doesn't have full support," said analyst John Enck, a senior research director at Gartner. "Microsoft's support, though, does open the door for very small opportunities for Itanium to go into production."
"This certainly shows a better working relationship between Microsoft and Intel than they've shown in the past year," Enck said.