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Microsoft Hardware

Microsoft to Require 64-bit Processors 377

Nom du Keyboard writes "According to Microsoft has said they will require 64-bit instruction set processors (AMD64/EMT64) for all future processor releases. These include Exchange 12, Longhorn Server R2 and Small-Business Edition Longhorn Server among others. I guess we have to bite this bullet sometime."
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Microsoft to Require 64-bit Processors

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  • by KiroDude (853510) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:11AM (#14051302)
    So is this bad news or good news, or?? come'on, give me something for my daily microsoft bashing spree!!
    • Winslows works under 64 bit?
      No really
    • So is this bad news or good news, or??

      It's not really either. Technology progresses, new Windows requires latest processors... it's scarcely news at all.

      What is interesting, though, is that there are still a lot of 32-bit processors around which are perfectly viable. Microsoft didn't absolutely require a 32-bit CPU until Windows '95; previous releases could always run in Standard or Real mode if you didn't happen to have the hardware to use 386 Enhanced. When that release came out in late 1995, hardly a

      • by iamhassi (659463) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:37AM (#14051485) Journal
        "But when MS goes to pure 64-bit, there may well still be a lot of legacy Pentium IVs around running just fine. "

        well, in the original article [] that the article links to it says:
        "Separately, Microsoft also announced that the Compute Cluster Server and several other upcoming server software releases will work only with 64-bit processors."

        They're talking specifically about server software, not really desktop.

        In the article the post links to it says:
        "company executives detailed its plans to add support 64-bit microprocessors in its server applications and operating systems."

        so they're supporting 64 bit in their OS, but not requiring it... least none of the stories said they're requiring it.

        I agree, I think it's a mistake to require 64 bit support in desktop OS's in the near future, I mean there's 5 year old processors that run the latest XP just fine so to say 5 yrs from now that most processors made today wont run Windows 2010 (twenty-ten ;) seems to be a pretty serious statement.

        Are they trying to kill Intel sales?

      • by ZiakII (829432)
        there may well still be a lot of legacy Pentium IVs around running just fine. Maybe we'll be able to get these guys to consider alternatives at that point?

        Most Pentiums IVs can support 64 bit processes.

        from Intel's website Scalability and performance with Intel® EM64T Intel® Extended Memory 64 Technology (Intel® EM64T) can improve performance by allowing the system to address more than 4 GB of both virtual and physical memory. Intel EM64T also provides support for 64 bit computing to hel
      • This is all server software, and as I understand it, people don't usually upgrade between major software revisions on production servers. So all the 32-bit servers out there are going to keep on running the same things.

        On the other hand, new servers sold today are pretty much exclusively AMD64; both Intel and AMD have deployed AMD64 accross their entire desktop and server product lines, IIRC. So for the new servers that will be using this new software, it's not a big deal.

        Of course, does it make sense to re
    • It means that if you want to update your server software, you'll have to buy new servers too.
    • by Southpaw018 (793465) * on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:22AM (#14051393) Journal
      It's more a matter of prodding an industry where "standard" computers still come with 256mb ram. Dell's current high end machines come with 512, and some manufacturers can and will sell you a computer with 128mb of ram. (I'm not Dell bashing - they're the only company I'll use if I'm not building it myself. Just saying.)

      Anyhow. What I'm getting at is the industry has been somewhat sluggish to adopt new tech under pressure to keep costs down. The 64-bit processors have been around for a while, but many computers don't have them, and the only reason why is that it's not cost-effective for the industry giants to switch over. As for performance...well, you won't see much difference with a 64-bit processor, but that's not because they aren't better - that's because people haven't been writing new code for them due to slow adoption rates. Vicious circle and all that.
      • It wasn't that long ago that you could still order a computer from Dell with 64mb ram and Windows XP.
      • by CdBee (742846) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:47AM (#14051546)
        Recent news covered the maturing of the WINE platform for running Win32 binaries on x86 *nix operating systems

        How ironic that just as we reach the point where there is a good chance of a Win32 binary running on WINE, the big move to Win64 applications begins in earnest.

        No, I don't believe this is a prime or even a significant motivating factor.. it's just the way things are.
        • MS is only forcing 64-bit CPUs on a few server apps. It'll be a decade before all 32-bit processors will be off the corporate desktops, so almost all software will be compatible for a long while. Additionally, going to 64-bits doesn't change the API, so most of that work will still be relevant.

      • Not to mention that a lot of proprietary software is only available as 32bit.. Although you can run this on a 64bit system, if it requires any additional libraries they must also be 32bit, forcing you to have 2 complete sets of libraries..
        One such example is the flash plugin, there is no 64bit flash therefore you need a 32bit browser and 32bit copies of all the libs the browser uses, not to mention having to use 32bit versions of every other plugin (like java for instance) even tho 64bit versions are availa
        • Wouldn't be such a bad thing for all proprietary software. If it's still current and being maintained it'll give the developers the kick up the arse they need to compile a 64 bit version. I expect once MS release a 64bit only OS, you'll find a 64bit version of Flash appearing very quickly indeed.

          It would still be a problem for any software which is no longer maintained (company went bust etc, 10 year old program) which people still want to use. But as you said it'll still be possible to run these, it'll jus
      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:50AM (#14053452) Homepage Journal
        ``It's more a matter of prodding an industry ... "standard" computers still come with 256mb ram. ... the industry has been somewhat sluggish to adopt new tech under pressure to keep costs down. ... 64-bit processors have been around for a while, but many computers don't have them''

        It sounds like you resent that the industry isn't progressing to faster and bigger hardware, and focusing on bringing cost down. I'm actually happy with this; I'm doing the same things I was doing years ago (and I'm sure the same is true for many others), so why should I need a bigger and faster system for them? If Pentium (classic) or ever 486 systems were available at a price that reflected the performance difference with current P4s and Athlon64s, I'd buy those in a heartbeat.

        As it is, I can't get a real cost advantage by buying slower hardware, but I can get lower power usage. Since I believe lower energy usage is the only realistic way to reduce pollution in the short term, I've done so; my main machine is a VIA EPIA (underclocked to 266 MHz), and I have a 800 MHz iBook G4 (downclocked to 600 MHz). Both of these perform the tasks I use them for just fine. Both of them have 256 MB RAM, but I could make do with half if I took the trouble to get smaller modules (which I won't).

        I have no need for a machine that will execute more idle cycles per second, nor do I have a need for software that requires such a machine.
    • by Linker3000 (626634) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:31AM (#14051450) Journal
      Hell yes this is good news because everyone knows that you can't make a decent word processor work properly with less than 64 bits - up until now all code writers have really struggled to make 8-, 16- and 32-bit processors handle such complex tasks - look at the kind of sucky code we had to put up with: WP 5.1, Wordstar, Lotus Manuscript, Word for DOS - heck maybe now we'll see some improvement on the shitty vi and emacs!!

      Typical improvements will be:

      1) Spell and grammar checking - with a 64-bit processor, the WP app will be able to offer up to (2^64)-2 suggestions for a mis-spelled word rather than just a handful.

      2) More underline styles

      3) Ability to type faster without the system locking up.

      4) Documents finish printing before you've typed them

      5) AI components know what you are thinking and will auto-finish sentences for you MICROSOFT SUCKS.

      6) Systems will be able to do more things at once - imagine being able to check email while typing at 2000 wpm AND be composing replies to messages you haven't even received yet while printing tomorrow's news.

    • Well, as a linux/freebsd chap myself, I'd have to say good. On the one hand, it'll move 64-bit up into the standard relm (ie, everything has it and cheaper) and I'll be taking eveyone's "deprecated" athlon-xp's and pentium 4s :).
    • So is this bad news or good news, or??

      Personally, here's the bad news: when this happens, the IT dept at the college I work for are going to demand a larger budget for the 64 bit hardware that will be required, and their selling point will be that this is an absolutely necessary upgrade. Realistically, it won't provide the college with any new capabilities and it will increase associated costs (diversion of resources from daily operations to preparing for the new installs, troubleshooting them, etc). Th

  • by CDPatten (907182) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:12AM (#14051309) Homepage
    They have also said a 32-bit version of the Longhorn server would be available. alsID=7046 []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:13AM (#14051316)
    ... 32-bit code. Heck, even XP still has some 16-bit programs by default. Sysedit and are just a couple examples. It's safe to say that 32-bit code will be with us for quite a while. Remember, 16-bit apps didn't die when Windows NT 3.1 (and later, Windows 95) came out.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Windows XP 64bit has all the 16 bit subsystems removed, and can't run any 16bit software.
      • Does that mean it can't run DOS programs? Just looking for some clarification because I'd hate to buy a 64 bit processor that can't run some of my old games (at least, not without an emulator like DOSBox).
        • Correct. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770)
          XP-64 will no longer run DOS or Win16 programs. It has WOW32 (Windows on Windows 32 bit) to run 32-bit code, but no more WOW16. If you wish to run old DOS programs under it, you'll need a full-blown emulator. Personally I recommend the use of DOSBox, even if you are using 32-bit Windows, as it does a much better DOS emulation than what comes in XP. DOS programs require hardware access of the kind that cannot be given in a protected environment. XP doesn't emulate a whole lot of that so plenty won't run (it
  • Microsoft is breaking backward compatability?

    Anyone have anything debunking this?

    • by Craster (808453)
      Just because the OS requires a 64-bit processor, doesn't mean that 32-bit apps won't run in a virtual machine environment, much the way that 16-bit apps run in the wowexec VM on Microsoft's current 32-bit OSs.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:19AM (#14051375)
      Microsoft is breaking backward compatability?

      That's not how I read it. Microsoft is going to require 64 bit processors for its new software. That's about equivalent to them requiring a 32-bit processor for Windows 95, and thereby excluding everyone on a 286. No reason why these systems shouldn't run legacy 32-bit apps - and maybe even 16-bit apps - but they're going to need a 64-bit processor.

      • by ggeens (53767)

        That's about equivalent to them requiring a 32-bit processor for Windows 95 and thereby excluding everyone on a 286.

        Actually, 80286 support was dropped in Windows 3.1 (AKA Windows For Workgroups). WFW could only run 16 bit code [1], but it needed the virtual memory features of a 80386.

        [1] Except if you installed "win32s", a subset of the Win32 API.

        • Actually, Windows for Workgroups was Windows 3.11 (clever aside about the intentional "bug" in calc.exe where entering "3.11 - 3.1" gave the answer "0"). Windows 3.1 was just non-network-ready "Windows". Brilliant marketing idea, actually.

          Pretty much *everybody* installed win32s, because freecell came with it...always winnable my ass.

          • Oh man!

            I remember that kludge that was Win32s. It saved me buying Win95 for about 18 months, but it finally got to the point where all the cool stuff required '95. I finally jumped into that mess in mid '97 and six months later I went to Linux full time.

            Ahhh, Free Cell. I could beat it with some regularity. I found a card game (maybe from MS back in the day?) called Cruel. It lived up to its name...

    • by CDPatten (907182) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:21AM (#14051390) Homepage
      "Microsoft is breaking backward compatability? "

      I'm assuming you are talking about 32bit? If you are then... Longhorn Server R2 doesn't come out until 2009, the 2007 version will come out with a 32bit counterpart Their 64 bit platform run 32 bit code without degrading performance.

      The only thing that has to be re-written is 32-bit drivers. They are only breaking "driver" compatibility for legacy hardware. However hardware makers have started (last summer) to write the 64 bit drivers for their hardware, so I wouldn't worry to much about that.

      Is that enough info to debunk?
      • The only thing that has to be re-written is 32-bit drivers. They are only breaking "driver" compatibility for legacy hardware. However hardware makers have started (last summer) to write the 64 bit drivers for their hardware, so I wouldn't worry to much about that.

        I'm worried, or would be if I used windows. Big names will probably write them, but will random taiwanese (e.g.) USB network adapters work with the new windows?

      • run 32 bit code without degrading performance.

        You mean, better than they run code now, degrading performance over weeks and months as the registry tries to commit suicide?

        I keed, I keed!
    • Yeah, its utter bollocks.

      It was news to Eileen Brown [] and the Exchange team who have been busily building and testing Exchange on 32 / 64 bits.

      I'm not sure why Microsoft announced this - but I'm quite sure that they're going to be building and testing 32 and 64 bit versions of all their major products right until far closer to release date, then they will decide what to release based on what their customers are asking for.

      Offtopic: Can anyone think of a good update to this:

      Windows is a 32-bit shell for a 16-

  • Good, and bad. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bogado (25959) <<bogado> <at> <>> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:15AM (#14051329) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft is pushing the 64bits, so it will become the standard and will be cheaper. On the other hand it will force people to buy new hardware, every one knows that the new office will have a new, incompatible, format. People will start using it and will force others to install a new 64bits CPU.

    Off course people could simply return the software that don't work and the adoption rate will be slower then before...
  • by Artie_Effim (700781) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:15AM (#14051330)
    Finally a new use for my Commodore 64!! I cannot wait to hand input hex strings for Exchange 12 ;)
  • by Sduic (805226) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:15AM (#14051331)
    >2GB minimum memory requirement! :)
  • Typo? (Score:2, Informative)

    by TeleKawaru (639739)
    I think they meant "future product releases." You can't say that processors include "Exchange 12, Longhorn Server R2 and Small-Business Edition Longhorn Server"
  • by lightweave (522226) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:15AM (#14051336)
    I guess this is good news for gamers. If MS starts to enforce 64Bit machines, then game developers will also turn around and start making more for 64Bit machines. Of course this will still take some time as the 32Bit machines will still be available for quite some time. As for companies it is probalby not so nice, because MS constantly forces them to upgrade without need. And as somebody else said: Some time we have to bite the bullet anyway, so why not now?
    • companies it is probalby not so nice

      Just what I thought. It's enough hassle to update a company full of PCs for a next Windows version. Next they will have to junk all their desktop hardware and not just update the Windows line, but also buy a sh*t load of new hardware. Hardware wendors will _love_ Microsoft for this move. I guess Dell will owe them one.

  • by jav1231 (539129) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:19AM (#14051364)
    First of all, yes this is probably a good move on their part. Yet, its not like they can dictate anything. Yes, they have a monopoly but there are cracks in it. There are alternatives now. The really ironic thing is they're talking up 64bit but they were the last to even have compatibility for it.
    • Oh, they can dictate anything that they want. Not that anyone else has to listen. Regardless, they do have a lot of power in this sort of thing, and if they decide that the next versions of their server-based software is going to require 64-bit processors, then very likely the users that want that software are going to follow suit. There are a lot of advantages to going to 64-bit systems in this ever-growing world where file and data sets are getting larger and larger.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:19AM (#14051374) Homepage

    From the article: "IT professionals will be able to consolidate the total number of servers running 64-bit (processors) and users will be able to have bigger mailbox size."

    How big are these mailboxes that you need 64-bit processing space??? *boggle*

    • Don't worry. 64-bit SPAM is coming any day now...
    • by jcr (53032) <> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:26AM (#14051417) Journal
      How big are these mailboxes that you need 64-bit processing space??? *boggle*

      I knew that goddamned HTML mail would lead to this!


    • So now when I come home I can have 17179869184GB of spam waiting for me instead of the pathetic 4GB that my 32bit mailbox allowed. Woohoo!
    • I have users that are now getting very close to exceeding the 2gb limit in mailbox size, and going to a 64-bit server would alleviate us of this problem. Disk is cheap, but when the system can't handle >2gb mailbox sizes....
    • Re:Mailbox size?!? (Score:3, Informative)

      by photon317 (208409)

      Typically on a traditional 32-bit OS files within a filesystem were limited to 2GB in size. Some people have easily more than 2GB of mail, and if your mail system stores all of a user's mail within a single "mailbox" file, you see the problem.

      OTOH, it's not really smart at all for a mail server to have one file per user (or even one file per "mail folder") - methods akin to the unix Maildir standard are far more efficient on modern filesystems that scale well as dentry lists grow.

      And OTOOH, most 32-bit OS'
  • Good lord... won't a required move to 64 bit architecture put all those gaming addicts with drug addictions into a heroin induced frenzy? I mean if you think it's hard to kick the 32 bit habit.. now they'll be selling their own mothers to get the next copy of Duke Nukem 64ever...
  • oh Bob, (Score:2, Funny)

    by in10d (555219)
    you are so brilliant!

    "IT professionals will be able to consolidate the total number of servers running 64-bit (processors) and users will be able to have bigger mailbox size," he said.

    twice bigger, i guess?
  • upgrade cycle? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BushCheney08 (917605)
    And whoever said that Microsoft was a key player in forcing people to upgrade their hardware?!?
    • Actually, one of the key points that we considered when we made the move to 64 bits for Exchange was that roughly 80% of the Exchange servers out there *right now* are 64-bit capable. People have been using Opterons in 32-bit mode to run Exchange 2003.
  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:24AM (#14051409)
    I guess we have to bite this bullet sometime.

    That should be we as in "we MS windows users" that have to bite this bullet thank you very much.

    We as in "we people with high memory requirements" will need 64 bits because we actually need them.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:27AM (#14051423) Journal
    According to Microsoft has said they will require 64-bit instruction set processors (AMD64/EMT64) for all future processor releases.

    I think "all" should be "some" and "processor releases" should be "software releases"... Here's CNET's take on it:

    Microsoft said some upcoming products, including its Exchange 12 e-mail server, will run only on 64-bit processors.

    It seems to be mostly a focus on 64-bit server products from now on to me, and far from a total switch to 64-bit.
  • Because typing
    cd C:\\Program\ Files\ \(x86\)\\ ...
    in bash is killing me.
  • I mean, just a short while ago, MS didn't even have an OS that worked properly (ie, utilized more than 32-bit compatibility) on 64-bit processors. I find it difficult to believe that they're so confident in their code's stability and have adequately tested it... Oh, yeah, this is MS, company who forces upgrades for extra fluff features rather than real usability, functionality, or stability. Nevermind.
  • Seriously? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:36AM (#14051475) Homepage
    There is no problems with linux pumping out binaries for x86, x86-64, PowerPC, ARM, and a multitude of other architectures. Why does windows only run on 1 type of processor? Wouldn't they have a much bigger market segment if the allowed you to run it on a larger variety of hardware? Microsoft used to have an Alpha version of NT. Did nobody want it? or was it just so bad that nobody could use it? This move will make more people shy away from upgrading their MS software. Software upgrades usually aren't *that* expensive, but if you have to upgrade your servers just to upgrade your software, then a lot less people will be doing it.
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by naelurec (552384)
      Why does windows only run on 1 type of processor?

      I think its simply because no one used other processors to run Windows (Back when NT3/NT4 supported MIPS, Alpha, PPC..). The Alpha seemed (at the time) to be the second most-used platform for NT as it did have performance advantage over IA32, but ultimately, not enough software was released native for Alpha to make it a truly usable platform.

      Fast forward to today and I don't really see a strong argument for releasing on multiple architectures. x86-64 provides
  • by cciRRus (889392) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:37AM (#14051487)
    In view of the future 64-bit requirement, can anyone update this neat quote?

    Windows 9x: noun. A collection of 32-bit extensions and a graphical shell for a 16-bit patch to an 8 bit operating system originally coded for a 4-bit microprocessor. Written by a 2-bit company that can't stand 1 bit of competition.

    --- Anonymous
  • by lightweave (522226) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:41AM (#14051509)
    If you don't know what ReactOS is, it is a replacement for Windows which aims to get 100% binary compatible. []
    Just like Wine does on Linux, but with the advantage that there is no Linux underneath it. It is a fully working OS on it's own.

    One of the initial motivations for this project was to brake this MS enforced cycle, and so far they made good progress. They are already capable of running some serious stuff like Unreal Tournament (Serious in terms of implementation not neccessarily for companies :) ). Of course there is a long way to go still, but since the aim is to stay binary compatible, if they progress as good as in teh last two years, then this could become a serious thread if it would be adopted by companies to avoid hardware changes when they don't even need them. And of course, since it is an Open Source OS you still have room for improvement and fixing of exploits that may be discovered. Which is more than you can expect from a Microsoft Windows.
  • One of the reasons for doing is this is to force people to upgrade.

    Let's fgace facts, Longwait and Office 2**n have nothing compelling enough to warant upgrading. But this move ensures that you will not be able to find any 64 bit machines that don't have them on it (Even if you don't want them at all)

    Plain and simple... It's their attempt at replicating Windows 95 all over again.

    • Then they would enforce 64bit desktop software. They are only enforcing 64bits for *future* *server* software. This hardly can be blamed considering those software will be released at least in 2007 and all x86 server processors since almost an year are x64 compatible. Sure, Athlon XPs, Pentium M, some Pentium 4 and Semprons do not run x64. I really can't see a reason to run Exchange 12 on an Athlon XP in 2007.
  • We will soon be looking back at the 64-bit processor as archaic and quaint.
  • Don't you guys remember the Digital Alpha ?, it had a port of Windows NT 4.0 back in the 90's
  • by sonofagunn (659927) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @09:04AM (#14051671)
    Most of you guys have no clue what Microsoft is actually doing. They are going to require some of their *server* products in the future to run on 64 bit processors - not home PCs. A lot of their server products today run on 32-bit and 64-bit processors already. I bet most of their new installs of these server products are already being done on 64 bit processors so they're just going to make things simpler. I doubt anyone will complain.
  • by (H)elix1 (231155) <> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @09:11AM (#14051720) Homepage Journal
    One of the things moving to the x86-64 cores get you is access to more RAM. I built a home system with 4x1024M sticks of RAM. With a 32 bit OS (like Win2K and WinXP in my case), you cannot access all 4G of RAM (easily). Windows reports back anywhere from 3.2-3.5G of RAM - in part due to the PCI devices mapping resources, etc.

    With Win2k3-x86 and WinXP-64, most of the hoops (and startup switches) you use just go away. It just works. Same applied to Linux - moving to an A64 build just worked.

    For server operations, more RAM is good. This is not as evil as it sounds.
  • I guess we have to bite this bullet sometime.
    Right, you can switch to Linux and actually use an OS that runs on more than one processor set well.
  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @10:39AM (#14052624) Homepage Journal
    I guess Microsoft is feeling the pain of shipping their software only in binary form. Rather than paying the cost and compiling and shipping for both architectures (like Apple might do), they are putting the cost on the customer by supporting only one architecture per product.

    Oh well, one more advantage of open source promoted from theoretical to real status. And yet another instance of Microsoft pushing the hardware upgrade threadmill. Keep running, hamsters! Run or you'll fall down! Not that anyone should be surprised by that, though.

It is contrary to reasoning to say that there is a vacuum or space in which there is absolutely nothing. -- Descartes