It’s been a long time coming but the steady progress of x64 technology from both Intel and AMD has finally impelled Microsoft to drop future support for Intel’s variant Itanium 64-bit processor family.
Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the last version of Windows Server to support the Intel Itanium architecture. SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 are also the last versions to support Itanium.
Current support for Itanium remains unchanged. Each of these products represent the state of the art of their respective product lines. Each fully support Itanium, support the recently-released Itanium 9300 (“Tukwila”) processor, and Microsoft’s support for these products will continue – following the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy. Mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems (and R2) will end, in accordance with that policy, on July 9, 2013, while extended support will continue until July 10, 2018. That’s 8 more years of support.
Why the change? The natural evolution of the x86 64-bit (“x64”) architecture has led to the creation of processors and servers which deliver the scalability and reliability needed for today’s “mission-critical” workloads. Just this week, both Intel and AMD have released new high core-count processors, and servers with 8 or more x64 processors have now been announced by a full dozen server manufacturers. Such servers contain 64 to 96 processor cores, with more on the horizon.
Microsoft will continue to focus on the x64 architecture, and it’s new business-critical role, while we continue to support Itanium customers for the next 8 years as this transition is completed.
Once upon a time, Windows NT (the precursor to Windows Server) supported a variety of microprocessor architectures, but they have been steadily whittled down over the years. Itanium remained as long as it did because of its early promise of an industrial strength 64-bit Intel architecture. Now it mainly exists to power some Hewlett-Packard HP-UX (Unix) servers.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used this week’s Microsoft SharePoint Conference to reveal a bit about SharePoint Server 2010:
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer announced that the public beta of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010 will become available in November, and revealed some of the new SharePoint Server 2010 capabilities for the first time.
SharePoint Server is one of the fastest-growing products in Microsoft’s history, with over $1.3 billion in revenue, representing over a 20 percent growth over the past year. According to IDC, Microsoft attained a significant share of the collaborative content workspace market in 2008, and had the highest growth rate among top vendors with its Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.
During his keynote address, Ballmer talked broadly about SharePoint Server as a business collaboration platform and highlighted three key areas. One was how organizations can respond quickly to business needs with an improved developer platform that makes it easier to build rich content and collaboration applications. Another topic was the enhanced Internet site capabilities that help businesses drive revenue and retain customers on a single platform. The third was the choice and flexibility between on-premises and cloud solutions.
I’ve never found SharePoint Server particularly desirable for an Internet Web site, but as a intranet collaboration platform for an enterprise that uses Windows scaffolding (not just PCs) its attractions have definitely been recognized by large customers (although there are dissenters , ).
Hit the initial link above or the SharePoint Team blog for a survey of what is new in SharePoint 2010, but the key enhancements to my mind are the advent of real developer tools:
New SharePoint tools in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, giving developers a premier experience with the tools they know and trust
Business Connectivity Services, which allow developers to connect capabilities to line-of-business data or Web services in SharePoint Server and the Office client
Rich APIs and support for Silverlight, representational state transfer (REST) and Language-Integrated Query (LINQ), to help developers rapidly build applications on the SharePoint platform
And Microsoft hasn’t given up on SharePoint as a foundation for external websites – they claim to have two new SKUs for "Internet-facing sites, including an on-premises and hosted offer."
So when exactly will SharePoint 2010 be available? Microsoft says the first half of 2010 and rumor has it as late 1st half. And don’t forget that it will be 64-bit only.
The final version details for Windows Server 2008 were revealed today at the Microsoft TechEd IT Forum 2007 in Barcelona by Bob Kelly, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Infrastructure Server Marketing. To anyone familiar with Microsoft’s past server operating systems, there isn’t much that’s particularly novel except in regard to the new Viridian virtualization capability which has now been formally named Hyper-V:
Michael Kanellos and Tom Krazit at CNET have the story which is aptly titled Strike Three for Intel:
AMD’s surge can be seen most strongly in the U.S. retail market, which accounts for about 9 percent of global PC shipments. In the first seven weeks of 2006, AMD’s share in desktops in that area climbed to 81.5 percent, while Intel’s has slid to 18.5 percent, Baker said. That’s almost a complete reversal of their typical relative positions.
In notebooks, Intel’s share has declined to 63 percent, even though (NPD Techworld analyst Steve) Baker and others generally agree that Intel enjoys a technological advantage in laptops.
Just to be clear, this is only sales in US retail stores which excludes direct PC vendors like market leader Dell, which is exclusively an Intel shop, but it’s still a stunner. Hit the article for some analysis, but a key factor seems to be pricing and AMD relationship building. AMD is gaining share in servers as well.
It likely makes little difference to Microsoft whether Intel or AMD is leading, although it undoubtedly gives them more leverage in their dealings with Intel. There’s one area though where all three are getting hit and that’s 64-bit:
It looks like the world isn’t clamoring for 64-bit desktops just yet.
Nearly two and a half years have passed since 64-bit processors started going into PCs. But the software to take full advantage of these chips remains scarce, and customers aren’t buying much of what’s out there.
The dearth can be seen in a lot of ways. Microsoft released a 64-bit version of Windows for desktops last May, but has sold few copies, according to analysts.
Instead, most PC makers and software developers will wait until Vista, the next version of Windows
“There is just not enough driver support for 64-bit Windows,” said Rahul Sood, president of VoodooPC. “We don’t offer it. We are waiting for Vista.”
The slow emergence of a 64-bit ecosystem also means that those consumers who bought 64-bit systems in the past few years to “future proof” themselves against a software conversion really didn’t. By the time Vista comes out, those early 64-bit computers will be 3 years old, closing in on the typical four-year replacement cycle.
There’s more analysis in the article, but lack of driver support is always the kiss of death. If the drivers were there, you could make a case for running 32-bit apps on the 64-bit operating system in compatibility mode. Instead, most folks are running the 64-bit processor in 32-bit legacy mode.