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Microsoft wants to make software performance simpler for IT departments to manage, and it plans updates to two key systems-management products next year and in 2007 that include new technology for monitoring the health of applications.

Microsoft to ship 32-bit version of Longhorn server

Microsoft Corp. plans to ship 32-bit, x64 and Itanium versions of its Longhorn server operating system, company executives said yesterday.

Microsoft had earlier committed to shipping both 32-bit and x64 versions of the Longhorn client but had not shared a full list of hardware platforms it would support with the server version of the operating system, due in 2007. Last week, Windows chief Jim Allchin said a final decision had not been made on a 32-bit version of the server.

"We will support 32-bit and 64-bit," Bob Kelly, a general manager in Microsoft's Windows server group, said in an interview yesterday. "We're in a transition period from 32-bit to 64-bit. We believe that will take a while."

Microsoft will ship a 32-bit version of the Longhorn server so customers can run the new operating system on existing server hardware. At the time the Longhorn server version ships, Microsoft expects that the vast majority of new x86-based servers, if not all, will be shipped with x64 processors.

"Over the next year, about 70% of the systems will be x64. The whole hardware model will refresh very quickly," Kelly said. "A customer, when they buy a server, won't be going and choosing between 32-bit and 64-bit; they are going to buy a server, and it will be 64-bit enabled."

It took about nine years for users and software makers to fully transition to 64-bit on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris, Kelly said. "It takes a while for customers and the ecosystem to come around and flip platforms," he said.

Microsoft does not expect the Windows transition to take that long. Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, has predicted that the move will be smooth and fast.

The Windows transition should be more smooth than the Solaris migration because of the work Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp. have done to support both 32- and 64-bit applications on the same systems, Kelly said.

The Longhorn server will ship about six months after the client, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said yesterday. The client is expected to be broadly available for the December 2006 shopping season. Ballmer spoke in a keynote presentation at the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas.


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