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Hot off the Press - News & Commentary
February 4th, 2004 by Chuck Brown

Microsoft’s 64-bit Windows Beta Available

Microsoft has made available to the public, a beta version of their new 64-bit Windows Operating System. It is specifically for users of desktops or workstations powered by Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon 64 or Opteron processors. Currently, Athlon 64 and Opteron workstations are having to run 32-bit versions of Windows like Windows 2000 Pro or XP.

These 32-bit versions of Windows cannot take full advantage of either processor chips 64-bit architecture and speed advantage over 32-bit processors like the Intel P-4 and AMD XP Athlon series.

Previously, the beta version of Windows 64-bit for AMD's chips was only made available last September to Microsoft's developer network during the launch of the Athlon 64 processor. Now, any user of a 64-bit AMD processor system can request a copy of the beta version for testing, via the Microsoft Web Site through the Customer Preview Program. You will only be asked to pay for shipping fees. You can also download it for free from the Microsoft site.

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Microsoft has said it plans to release the full version of Windows XP/64-bit later in the second half of 2004, much later than previously planned. It was meant to be released to coincide with the availability of the AMD 64-bit processor to the public.

Also, server customers outside of Microsoft's developer network can download a beta version of Windows Server 2003 for Opteron, a full release of that software is also expected in the second half of this year. It has been reported by Microsoft that over 5,000 customers have requested the beta version of Windows Server 2003.

Linux 64-bit versions to the rescue –

While Microsoft has been slow to fulfill the needs of the 64-bit hardware market, Linux has already stepped up to the plate. There are already a few 64-bit versions of Linux available for desktop and server systems. However, keep in mind that few usable 64-bit daily applications are out in 64-bit versions, making 64-bit an answer without a question. This may change quickly, once Microsoft releases the full version of Windows XP 64-bit.



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