Microsoft confirms Windows Server 2003 for Opteron

Microsoft Corp. will release a 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP for Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s (AMD’s) forthcoming Opteron and Athlon64 processors, the company announced Wednesday.

Microsoft announced support for AMD processors last year, but the omission of support for AMD in the release-to-manufacture version of Windows Server 2003 unveiled last week led observers to wonder if Microsoft would follow through on its plans. Beta releases of the operating systems are expected in the middle of 2003, Microsoft said in a press release.

Later this month, both AMD and Microsoft will launch their next-generation server products. Microsoft is set to unveil Windows Server 2003 on April 24, two days after AMD releases the Opteron. The Athlon64 for desktop processors is expected to be released in September.

AMD’s processors will use the x86-64 instruction set, which adds 64-bit extensions to the x86 instruction set used in 32-bit processors from AMD and Intel. Users will be able to run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications on the chip, but will need to recompile their existing 32-bit applications to take advantage of the benefits of 64-bit computing.

Most versions of Windows operating systems are written for the 32-bit x86 processor, so Microsoft needed to recode the operating system for Opteron or Athlon64 for IT managers that want to run Windows on computers with either chip.