Microsoft has released Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Datacenter x64 Edition, and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. Yes, it’s the day of 64-bit. For some time now, 64-bit Athlon and Opteron microprocessors have been running on 32-bit Windows, or betas of the 64-bit version. Now, the stable versions have been released to manufacturing.

"Microsoft believes this is the right time to provide this flexible new OS to customers and, with broad industry partnerships, help usher in a new era of computing. Partners are embracing 64-bit computing in a meaningful way and the availability of x64 will serve as a catalyst in the market to bring benefits to the mainstream. More than 300 partners from every segment of the industry have demonstrated support for Microsoft‘s x64 platform on both the desktop and the server."

With Microsoft already keen on the Opteron, and using it inhouse, it was not going to be long before we got a fully fledged 64-bit Windows OS.

Both Intel and AMD believe that 64-32 processors are the way to go, although Chipzilla was slow to convert to the idea. It has accomplished its volte face by putting its Itanium processor into a niche and hopes that it will topple RISC chips from the enterprise space.

The new capabilities of 64-bit processing are to be used well if promises from Microsoft are to be believed. Microsoft certainly expects 64-bit to become almost instantly popular now.

Microsoft advertises the 64-bit Windows platform as increased scalability and reliability, faster processing, the ability to handle larger amounts of data more efficiently, more security, and better manageability. Microsoft expects workstation users that run into 32-bit-lints today and enthusiasts to be first to make the switch to Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. In a recent conversation with Tom's Hardware Guide, the company said that it expects shipments in the "millions" within the first 12 months after introduction.