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Microsoft Beefs Up 64-Bit Windows As Unix Alternative

Longhorn Server will be optimized to run database operations, business applications, and custom enterprise applications.

Microsoft's version of Longhorn for 64-bit servers will be optimized for high-end business applications in an attempt to make Longhorn an alternative to powerful Unix systems.

Bob Muglia, senior VP for Windows Server division, first aired the possibility of specialized "workloads" for Longhorn Server on Itanium at the TechEd 2005 conference in June. On Thursday, Muglia's Server unit published a Web bulletin that said Itanium Longhorn would be configured to maximize database operations, the running of business applications, and implementation of custom enterprise applications, often built in-house.

Longhorn Server will be optimized for ease of administration and management of the three workloads, the Sept. 1 bulletin said. Targeting these three workloads is in line with feedback from early users in the Windows Server test phase known as Longhorn beta 1, the bulletin said.

Itanium is a 64-bit hardware architecture from Intel that will run the 64-bit Longhorn Server operating system and serve as a platform for "transitioning most server workloads from 32 bits," Michael Cherry, an analyst with the Directions On Microsoft research group, said in a statement accompanying the announcement. Larger database systems run more effectively on 64-bit hardware and software platforms because they can address larger virtual memory spaces than 32-bit systems.

But Longhorn Server on Itanium should not be used for lower-level workloads, such as file and print server, fax server, Windows SharePoint, or Windows Media services. These roles "won't operate on Windows Server Longhorn for Itanium-based systems," the bulletin said. They've been disabled to allow the operating system to focus resources on enterprise applications.

An Itanium server running Longhorn would be a good host for consolidated databases or a database system that may need to scale out rapidly, IDC analyst Matt Eastwood said in a prepared statement.

Longhorn is the next version of Microsoft Windows. The client-side version is now known as Windows Vista, but the server version is still known as Longhorn.

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