Microsoft is to develop 64-bit versions of its Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems designed to support the upcoming AMD Opteron and Athlon 64-bit processors.
The move represents a blow to Microsoft's Wintel partner Intel, which is touting its own Itanium 64-bit CPU architecture that does not support x86 native applications.
Microsoft explained that AMDs processors, which are backwards compatible for x86 code, offer "architectural flexibility that allows customers to upgrade to 64-bit applications as they become available, and protects customers' current and future technology investments".
The software giant confirmed that it will extend 64-bit support in XP and Server 2003 to run natively on the Opteron processor for servers and workstations, and the upcoming Athlon 64 for desktops and notebooks.
The company has promised to deliver desktop and server beta code in the middle of 2003.
"We are pleased to help usher in a new era of business value by extending our ongoing investment in 64-bit computing to the AMD platform," said Brian Valentine, senior vice president of Microsoft's Windows Division.
Dirk Meyer, senior vice president at AMD's Computation Products Group, added: "Native 64-bit Windows on AMD provides customers with a high-performance 32-bit application platform together with an easy migration path to the power of 64-bit computing."
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