Hardware / CPU/Chipset

Vista will be the last version of Windows for Pentium 4 and Core Duo owners

UPDATE | Microsoft's Alex Heaton has clarified the comment of Bill Laing, on which this story is based. "Bill Laing, a General Manager in the Microsoft Windows Server Division, has been quoted as saying that Windows Server 2008 will be the last 32-bit operating system. Bill is a server guy and indeed Windows Server 2008 is the last 32-bit server operating system – all future operating systems for server hardware from Microsoft beyond Windows Server 2008 will be 64-bit," Heaton said.

"A few folks took Bil'’s comments on Windows Server and applied them to Windows Client deriving that Windows Vista would be the last 32-bit operating system. That is an incorrect extension. While Windows Vista includes both 32-bit and 64-bit and there is a growing community of drivers for 64-bit Windows Vista we have not decided when Windows Client will follow Windows Server and become 64-bit only."

It's the end of the line for 32-bit operating systems, Microsoft has proclaimed at its annual Windows Hardware Engineering conference

After the software giant has gotten over its hangover from partying like it's 1999 with the release of Windows Server 2008, it will have one last 32-bit hurrah with a "release 2" update to Windows Server 2008, and that'll be it.

There will be no more versions of Windows -- on desktop or server -- that will work on 32-bit CPUs like Pentium 4 or Core Duo (first-gen MacBook owners, take note, Windows Vista will be the last version of Windows installable on your machine.)

The company's general manager for Windows Server platform, Bill Laing, confirmed that "Windows Server 2008 is the last 32-bit operating system (for desktops and servers) that we'll produce".

Speaking during a morning keynote address WinHEC, Laing described the company as being "in the middle of a transition to 64-bit computing. Post-2008, we will transition to 64-bit. Many Microsoft products are becoming 64-bit only today, because they're realizing the benefits of 64-bit computing."

EIGHT more versions of Windows en route

Meanwhile, whatever was in the water over at the Windows marketing building on Microsoft's sprawling campus, it seems their Windows Server counterparts have also been drinking it.

At yesterday's WinHEC geekfest in Los Angeles, Microsoft detailed that an astounding eight versions of Windows Server would be on the market by next year, including a new SKU for medium-sized business boxes.

All will be built on the foundations of Windows Server 2008 , which in turn shares much of its code with Vista. (Both the desktop and server-side operating systems not only sprang from the same soil but at several stages in their long gestation were due for simultaneous release.)

First up are the four versions of Windows Server 2008: Web Edition, Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition and Datacenter Edition. Fair enough, as that's a repeat of the SKUs in the current Windows Server 2003 family.

More news on Windows Home Server

In October this year we'll see the debut of Windows Home Server , which has so far resisted attempts to be branded with a year-based version.

(Microsoft also announced at WinHEC that Lacie and Gateway had joined HP as launch partners for Windows Home Server hardware, confirmed that Windows Home Server would be available system builders rather than restricted to OEMs, and released a list of third-party vendors who are developing software for the home server platform. These include Diskeeper's defragmentation utility, home automation tools from Embedded Automation's mControl and Lagotek's Home Intelligence Platform, plus media streaming from PacketVideo Connect and SageTV).

Amped up server for small businesses

In early 2008, Home Server this will be joined by another new server sibling aimed at medium-sized businesses of between 25-500 PCs (these are US definitions of business sizes -- most Australians would consider a 500-seat shop to be a large business).

Codenamed 'Centro', but likely to be christened something way out and radical such as Windows Medium Business Server 2008, the platform will borrow from the successful Small Business Server recipe.

This will include a simplified setup and licensing process plus bundled and tightly-integrated products such as the Exchange, SharePoint and SQL servers as well as the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM offerings and a new version of Solitaire. (Okay, we're kidding about that last part.) Unlike the single-sever SBS platform, however, Centro will be capable of spanning across several server boxes.

Centro will be followed mid-year by Small Business Server 2008 (currently codenamed Cougar), which brings the tally to seven serves of Windows Server.

The final member of the family is the streamlined Windows Storage Server for managing storage, including network-attached storage boxes. WSS is currently parked in '2003 R2' mode, although the WinHEC Server Madness roadmap didn't specially call out a next release of WSS. Maybe there wasn't enough room on the PowerPoint slide...

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