Microsoft have released a preview of the 64 bit version of Windows XP Professional for beta testers. Now called Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, the final version of the OS will now be released in 2005, having been delayed from winter 2004, no doubt because of delays with XP SP2. Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition will also be released in 2005.
Those of you wishing to test the OS have a 450 mb download ahead of you – which doesn’t seem that bad, really though copies are available free on CD with a modest shipping charge. From a feature standpoint, 64 bit Windows is virtually identical to the standard version, the program and kernel code is compiled to take advantage of the increased processor world length. Pricing for the final OS will be similar to 32 bit versions.
64 bit XP will run on a range of 64 bit processors and support up to 16 gigabytes of physical RAM and eight terabytes of virtual memory. RAM support will increase as hardware manufacturers catch up. 32 bit users on some processors will be able to upgrade to the new OS for free.