Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday made broadly available a beta version of its Windows Server 2003 for systems using the Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) 64-bit Opteron processor.

The beta version of Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems had been available to a small group of testers in a “technical beta” since October but is now available for anyone interested in trying it out through a customer preview program, said John Borozan, a product manager at Microsoft.

Microsoft expects tens of thousands of users to download the beta of the server software, which is unchanged since the release of the technical beta, Borozan said. Several hundred testers participated in the technical beta, he said.

“A lot of customers are using Opteron with 32-bit Windows. The release of this beta is the first time they can tap the additional power of that hardware using 64-bit Windows,” Borozan said.

When it ships some time in the second half of this year, Windows Server 2003 for 64-Bit Extended Systems will be available in Standard and Enterprise editions. There are no plans for a separate beta for the Standard version, Borozan said.

At the same time that Microsoft ships the software for Opteron systems, the company plans to introduce a Standard edition of Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Itanium-based servers. Microsoft already ships Enterprise and Datacenter versions of Windows Server 2003 for this Intel Corp. processor, which competes with AMD’s Opteron.

Release of the Windows Server software for Opteron-based systems was pushed back about six months last October. Originally the company had said it would deliver the product in the first half of 2004.

Pricing for all 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 will be the same as for the comparable versions of the product’s 32-bit entries: US$999 for Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, which includes five client-access licenses (CALs), and US$3,999 for Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, which includes 25 CALs.



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