64-bit Windows for the price of 32

Microsoft has signaled its plans to let buyers of a 32-bit version of Windows upgrade to a future 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003 for free.

Microsoft has released some details about its delayed 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003. The beta program for the product, which will offer support for AMD's Opteron and Intel's Xeon with EM64T, will begin in early August.

Also, Microsoft will soon divulge details about a buyback program, which will let customers who buy a 32-bit operating system exchange that operating system for a 64-bit version when it becomes available. Microsoft will offer more details about the program in a few months, said Dennis Oldroyd, a director in the Windows Server Business Group.

The 64-bit processors offer a performance advantage for users because they can process more data per clock cycle, boost memory and perform faster calculations. The software is expected to become available in the first half of 2005.

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