Windows IT Pro UPDATE-- Windows IT Pro Readers Take the x64 Challenge

Paul discusses reader responde to Microsoft's plans to move away from 32-bit platforms.

ITPro Today

December 6, 2005

12 Min Read
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1. Commentary
- Windows IT Pro Readers Take the x64 Challenge 2. Hot Off the Press
- To Sidestep Eolas Patent, Microsoft Plots IE Changes 3. Peer to Peer
- Featured Blog: Windows Vista Will Minimize Reboots
- Tip: How can I verify that my Windows Server 2003 Certificate Authority (CA) deployment is correctly configured? 4. New and Improved
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==== 1. Commentary: Windows IT Pro Readers Take the x64 Challenge ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]
Last week, I described Microsoft's recently announced platform strategy for moving its server products to the x64 platform and, over time, off of x86. Some products, such as Windows Server, will move to x64 gradually, and will support both x86 and x64 in the coming generation. However, others, such as Microsoft Exchange 12, the upcoming messaging server revision, will ship only for the x64 platform, a decision that could leave some users in the lurch. The problem isn't so much the hardware as it is the software. As Microsoft notes, almost 70 percent of all servers sold in third quarter 2005 used x64-based hardware, and those numbers will only increase as PC makers phase out x86 hardware in 2006. The real story here, of course, is that the vast majority of x64 servers rolled out worldwide are using 32-bit x86-based versions of Windows Server, not x64-based versions. So moving to 64-bit server products such as Exchange 12 will require corporations to install new versions of Windows Server as well as Exchange. The situation is further complicated because the x64 versions of Windows Server 2003 don't support upgrading from the more common x86 versions. So companies wanting to use x64 software products will need to perform clean installations of the OS, wiping out whatever system, applications, and services were previously installed. Therefore the installation will require extra time, planning, and testing, which can of course lead to additional costs as well. Microsoft argues, correctly I think, that the benefits to x64 are often greater than the risks and costs. But although this argument will be largely academic a few years from now, the current migration period, in which today's 32-bit systems are slowly phased out in favor of more scalable x64 solutions, will be painful for many and even prohibitively expensive. On the plus side, most software written for x86 will run fine on x64 OSs; that means that many of your custom applications will make the transition with little or no changes. But it's you, the Windows IT Pro UPDATE readers, who will need to make this transition. So last week, I asked you what you thought of Microsoft's decision to aggressively move to the x64 platform. Predictably, your feedback was invaluable and will, I hope, help Microsoft evaluate its decision in a slightly different light. Many readers were somewhat resigned to what they see as a steady series of unreasonable requirements for upgrading to new Exchange versions. Over the years, various Exchange product versions have required specific Windows Server versions--first Windows NT 4.0, then Windows 2000 with Active Directory (AD), for example. Requiring customers to install both x64 hardware and an x64 version of Windows Server to get Exchange 12 isn't welcome, but it's not surprising either. This, I think, is the toughest part of Microsoft's plan: With Exchange 12, customers will need to buy completely new hardware preloaded with Windows 2003 x64, or they're going to need to wipe out existing servers and install the x64 OS from scratch. That's a lot of work and expense. One might think that Software Assurance (SA) and similar volume licenses must offset some of the upgrade pain. But for customers who recently rolled out high-end Xeon hardware that doesn't include x64 capabilities, the benefits of getting Exchange 12 (or Windows 2003 x64) as part of their software subscription doesn't always outweigh the pain of having to wipe and reload. On a related note, there seems to be a bit of a backlash rising against the perpetual upgrade cycle that Microsoft requires customers to make to take advantage of new technology. Many noted that they're still running ancient versions of Windows and Exchange--NT 4.0 or Windows 2000 with Exchange 5.5, for example--because those systems still meet their needs. Obviously, these are small companies, but as a percentage of the overall market, I have to think they constitute a fairly large part of the customer base. This last point hints at what I consider to be the second biggest problem with Microsoft's plans. Are x64 hardware systems really as pervasive as Microsoft thinks they are, with regards to the installed base? If you break down Microsoft's core markets into three logical segments as the software giant does--small businesses, medium businesses, and enterprises--I think you'll discover that the spread of 32-bit and x64 hardware systems in deployment today varies widely by segment. Readers who responded were of two minds. First, many were surprised to discover that they had been purchasing and using x64 servers--albeit with 32-bit OSs--for some time without even realizing it. But many others were adamant that they had never seen an x64 server in deployment. And for some companies that use hardware for several years, the prospect of upgrading simply to get the next Exchange version was a bit hard to understand. What's fascinating is the disparity in responses. For every outraged response, there was a positive message, full of hope about the 64-bit future. Many people believe, as Microsoft does, that the transition from 32-bit technology to 64-bit technology will be more seamless and less painful than the previous transition from 16-bit to 32-bit. That it comes with better security features and a sudden and almost exponential scalability boost is just the icing on the proverbial cake. The server world is moving to x64 regardless of my opinion or your requirements. But I'd like to see Microsoft do something positive to make the x64 transition less painful. This could include an OS trade-up program, similar to what the company offered to Windows XP users on the desktop, which would obviate any direct OS upgrade costs. Microsoft could also provide x64 upgraders with a number of free support calls or provide similar services that would allay fears and ease the upgrade burden. Unfortunately, Microsoft's Technology Advancement Program, which allowed customers with 32-bit Windows 2003 versions running on x64 hardware to exchange those products for the equivalent x64 versions, expired in July 2005. It might be a good idea to at least reconstitute that program for Exchange customers.


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==== 2. Hot Off the Press ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected] To Sidestep Eolas Patent, Microsoft Plots IE Changes
Last week, Microsoft announced that it would indeed change the way Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) handles embedded Web page content, sidestepping an Eolas Technologies patent that had landed Microsoft in court. Microsoft first warned Web developers over 2 years ago that it would have to make these changes to IE, then changed its mind and challenged Eolas in court. With Eolas now sitting on a $521 million jury ruling, however, Microsoft has returned to its original plan for modifying IE. Microsoft says it still plans to appeal the ruling as well. Read the rest of the story at the following URL: ==== Events and Resources ====
(A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows IT Pro: ) Web Seminar - Plan and Implement Highly Available Exchange Systems Register today: Web Seminar - Manage and Reduce Planned Downtime Register today: SOXCon 2005 - December 7, 2005 - 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. EST
THE FIRST AND ONLY Internet conference and vendor exhibition focused exclusively on the systems, processes, management methodologies, and best practices that comprise the Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Management market. Register here and view the full day's agenda. Sign up today at Microsoft Exchange & Windows Connections 2006
April 9-12, 2006, Orlando, Florida. Microsoft and Windows IT Pro magazine team up to produce the essential conference for systems administrators and IT managers in Windows and Exchange technology. Register by January 9 and receive one FREE hotel night at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort. Call 800-438-6720 for details. Web Seminar - Get the Tools, Tips, and Training That You Need to Avoid a Messaging Meltdown When an Outage Strikes Register today at DevWeek 2006 - Europe's Biggest Event for Developers & DBAs
DevWeek and SQL Server DevCon take place in London from 20-24 February, with dozens of technical sessions and workshops on Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, WCF, WPF, WinFS and ASP.NET 2.0, presented by world-class speakers such as Jeff Prosise, Dino Esposito and Ingo Rammer. Early bird deadline is 16 December. ==== Featured White Paper ==== Download a White Paper - You Could Win an iPod Nano Get your free copy today at ~~~~ Hot Release: (Advertisement) Postini ~~~~ Protect and Manage Instant Messaging 85% of businesses use IM for business or personal use to improve communication and reduce email usage. In this free white paper learn how to protect your company and implement a managed IM security solution! ==== Instant Poll ==== Results of Previous Poll
The voting has closed in Windows IT Pro's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Has your company started rolling out x64 hardware?" Here are the results from the 189 votes:
- 25% Yes
- 74% No
- 1% I don't know New Instant Poll
The next Instant Poll question is, "What has been your company's most challenging IT-related problem this year?" Go to the Windows IT Pro home page and submit your vote for a) Lack of funding for hardware/software upgrades, b) Lack of funding for hiring/training IT help, c) Network security (viruses, hackers), or d) Other. ==== 3. Peer to Peer ==== Featured Blog: Windows Vista Will Minimize Reboots
Check out Mark Edwards' most recent posting to the Security Matters blog. Tip: How can I verify that my Windows Server 2003 Certificate Authority (CA) deployment is correctly configured?
by John Savill, Find the answer here: ==== Announcements ====
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Become a VIP subscriber and get continuous, inside access to ALL of the online resources published in Windows IT Pro, SQL Server Magazine, and the Exchange and Outlook Administrator, Windows Scripting Solutions, and Windows IT Security newsletters--that's more than 26,000 articles at your fingertips. You'll also get a valuable one-year print subscription to Windows IT Pro and two VIP CDs (CDs include the entire article database on CD, delivered twice per year). Don't miss out...sign up now: Windows Scripting Solutions--Holiday Special
The Windows Scripting Solutions newsletter is a "must have." Subscribe today and SAVE up to $30 off the regular price. You'll get 12 helpful issues loaded with expert-reviewed downloadable code and scripting techniques, as well as hundreds of tips on automating repetitive tasks. In addition, you'll get access to the entire online newsletter archive (more than 500 scripting articles), including the popular "Shell Scripting 101" series. This resource will help to save you time and money. Order now: ==== 5. New and Improved ====
by Trisha Pendley, [email protected] 64-Bit Backups with Backup for Workgroups Lockstep Systems announced that its disk-based backup software, Backup for Workgroups, now supports Windows 64-bit editions, including Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and all editions of Windows Server 2003. Backup for Workgroups' ability to support both 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows lets the product grow along with companies as they begin moving from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows. Competitive pricing, fast backup times, and easy data-recovery features are designed especially for small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs). Backup for Workgroups is compatible with Windows 2003/XP/2000/NT4.0/Me/98 and all versions of Exchange. Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Tell us about the product, and we'll send you a T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows IT Pro What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to mailto:[email protected]. ==== Contact Us ==== About the newsletter -- [email protected] About technical questions -- About product news -- [email protected] About your subscription -- [email protected] About sponsoring UPDATE -- [email protected]


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