64-Bit Windows Part 1

64-bit computing is here today.

Quite literally: this is a 64-bit laptop, running a 64-bit operating system. And if you want to buy a 64-bit system, well, it’s dead easy: go to www.AlienWare.com , and order yourself a rig for home or for the office, and choose from among various 64-bit processors you can have installed in them.

So, 64-bit computing is not off in the future: it is here now. And in a few months, 64-bit hardware is going to be the norm. Here’s a quote from Phil Brace, a marketing director in Intel’s server group: “By the middle of [2005], virtually all our server products will be 64-bit capable.” AMD doesn’t need to make statements of that nature because virtually its entire product line is already 64-bit, and, by virtue of that they now own more than 50% of U.S. retail store sales for desktop PC’s . . . so almost 1 in every 2 desktop PC’s sold in a retail store today has an AMD 64-bit processor inside.

What’s the consequence of this trend among the hardware manufacturers? Well, it means that in about a year, your customers are going to have 64-bit hardware in their data centers, if they don’t have some already. And you have to keep in mind that when they buy that hardware, the sales reps are telling them all about how the 64-bit hardware will give them power to exploit for years to come. Consequently, your customers turn around to you, their software vendors, and ask, “what are you doing to help me optimize the value of my investment in 64-bit hardware?” And at that point, you need to have a 64-bit strategy to present to them. Let me emphasize that this is not a hypothetical scenario. It was one of the very first issues that I was helping Microsoft’s software partners to deal with when I joined Microsoft a little over a year ago. Customers were saying, “we’ve got 64-bit hardware now . . . tell us what you’re going to do about that!” So, today, you’ve just got to have a 64-bit strategy, and my objective in this series of posts will to help you develop one. 

My plan is quite straightforward. We are going to talk about the quite different kinds of 64-bit hardware on the market, what Microsoft is doing about them, and what you can do about them as software vendors.