Are we ready for 64bit?

IT Business, Vista
1 Comment

On the servers, yes.

On the Windows workstations and peripherals, not quite.

There has been a fair bit of discussion on whether we are ready for 64bit platforms and more to the point, are we building systems that can power the coming 64bit wave of Exchange and Longhorn?

On the server side the response has been a resounding yes. Many have pointed out that 64bit processors such as Opteron have been out since 2003. You can also note that all Dell entry-level Pentium and Xeon servers are 64bit.

So we are 64bit capable. But are we ready for 64bit?

Not quite. Lack of drivers. Lack of support. Most of all, lack of faith among the early adopters. Nearly everyone that went to 64bit Windows XP has regretted it and most have rolled back to the 32bit edition. The trend with Vista is not pretty either. Many have complained about the lack of 64bit optimization in Vista, claiming that the Pentium-D class systems ran significantly faster in the 32bit than 64bit editions.

Drivers are perhaps the biggest complaint. They are not getting any better. For example, not a single modern printer in my house has a 64bit driver.

Who will gamble on 64bit?

Not Microsoft, they will sell the workstation OS regardless of the platform. No Dell, they aren’t stupid enough to flood their support lines with unhappy customers that just bought a brand new Dell and cannot use any of their older peripherals. Not the OEM manufacturers, they of all have the least budget and interest to support a microscopic market share. Don’t believe me? Ask Macintosh users about how many peripherals worked with them in the 3–7% market share days. Ask Donald Becker why he had to write nearly every network driver in Linux. Ask Redhat why they had to bend over backwards and deal with sellout criticism when they shipped kernels with modules that simply could not be compiled from source. You get my drift, OEM’s are going to be looked at for drivers but they have traditionally not been the leader. As a matter of fact, OEM model is in the exact opposite direction — they rush to ship the product with drivers that “work” and only after the adoption rate falls below the RMA rate do they start to fix the issues.

Grim scenario indeed.

So we are 64bit capable. We just aren’t ready.

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