Microsoft Australia has confirmed a global rumour that the next 64-bit version of Windows XP will only be available to OEMs, including local system builders, and resellers.
Danny Beck, Windows product manager at Microsoft, said that the upcoming 64-bit extended version of Windows XP for Intel and AMD systems, dubbed X64, would not be available via retail.
Instead, the new OS – which would also be 32-bit compatible – would be made available to OEMs, local system builders and other B2B resellers only, soon after development is completed towards the end of this year, he said.
'You need specific hardware [to use the OS],' Beck said.
Microsoft, Intel and AMD kick off an Australian roadshow in Sydney tomorrow, 8 July, explaining why and how developers should get into developing for X64, he said.
Beck said it was not true that 64-bit computing was only desirable for specialist consumers, such as hardcore gamers, and would have little relevance for business.
'People said that about the internet seven years ago,' he said.
Games, computer graphics and multimedia were obvious applications for 64-bit. However, banking and finance was also expected to find the added performance a boon, he said.
'People doing a lot of financial modelling, [for example],' Beck said. 'Also ... more intensive database work, record-keeping and database administration. 64-bit certainly brings speed to the whole customer services age, such as, when customers call on the phone wanting data lookups.'
Customers would increasingly demand the benefits of 64-bit computing as they had when the internet began to percolate into businesses. 'This is about future-proofing,' he said.
Businesses were heading into a post-Y2K and post-GST PC refresh, so it made sense for many to look at moving to 64-bit compatible systems, Beck said.
Microsoft had been shipping a 64-bit version of Windows for Intel's Itanium processors for more than 12 months. However, the upcoming version would have better x86 capability, he said.
'We're moving to the next generation of 64-bit,' Beck said. 'It extends the x86 processor set ... X64 will run 64-bit Windows, drivers and software specifically compiled for the instruction set, run 32-bit software without being re-compiled and act like an x86 processor.'