Windows users dreaming of mainstream 64-bit desktop and server operating systems must wait longer than anticipated, after Microsoft Corp delayed shipment of a clutch of upcoming products.
Microsoft’s Windows Sever 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems and Windows XP 64-bit Edition for Extended Systems are being pushed back to the first half of 2005, from the end of 2004.
Also pushed back into the first half of 2005 is the first Windows Sever 2003 service pack, a collection of security fixes and code updates to help lock-down the operating system.
Postponement for the operating systems and updates are just the latest delay for Microsoft, which has already pushed back two major pieces of software that were due this year – SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005. Additionally, the planned Longhorn operating system, due in 2005, is now expected in the first half of 2006, Microsoft said earlier this year.
Next month’s Windows XP Service Pack SP 2 launch has been given as the reason of this latest batch of delays.
SP2 includes a number of security enhancements to Windows XP, in the areas of internet and e-mail. The changes represent a concerted attempt by Microsoft to close the nearly three-year-old operating system to further crippling external attacks from worms and viruses.
A company spokesperson said some SP 2 security enhancements are being incorporated in SP 1, Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems and Windows XP 64-bit Edition for Extended Systems, and that Microsoft is giving itself sufficient time to conduct final testing.
The delay could pose a problem for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Inc, which is still waiting for a mass-market operating system capable of fully exploiting its AMD 64 family of products, which offers both 32-bit and 64-bit capabilities. However, the vendor has insisted in the past that the lack of a 64-bit Windows OS is not a major handicap, as the platform’s 32-bit mode still outstrips the competition, while 64-bit flavors of Linux are available.
The delay, however, will likely benefit AMD’s chip rival Intel Corp, who this year followed AMD’s lead by offering 64-bit extensions to its 32-bit line. It has already shipped server products with the 64-bit extensions The breathing space afforded by Microsoft’s latest set of delays will likely give Intel further opportunity to ramp up manufacturing, in line with delivery of Microsoft’s software.