Windows Advanced Server, Limited Edition (LE) 1.2, an update to Microsoft's 64-bit Windows Server product, will ship later this month, the company said this week. Microsoft has optimized this new version for Intel's Itanium 2 processor, which began shipping Monday.

"The 64-bit Windows Server versions help us provide higher-scale solutions," said Bill Veghte, corporate vice president for Windows .NET Server Management, at a recent Windows .NET Server reviewer's workshop. "For example, we can move up to 256GB of RAM on Itanium 2 systems, and the \[64-bit version of\] Datacenter supports 32 processors." Windows LE is essentially a preview version of Windows .NET Advanced Server 64-bit Edition, which will ship late this year. The current LE naming convention for the preview version denotes that the products currently are available only through select PC and server makers, Veghte said. The final version will be available to any PC or server maker that sells Itanium 2-based solutions.

Microsoft will also support the Itanium 2 with other products. In addition to Windows .NET Advanced Server 64-bit Edition, the company will ship a new 64-bit edition of Windows Datacenter Server late this year and a new version of Windows XP--Windows XP 64-bit Edition 2003--in early 2003. Microsoft is also working on a 64-bit version of SQL Server 2003, which is currently shipping in beta form to select customers. "SQL Server 2003 is the anchor, next to Windows .NET Server, of our server products," Barry Goffe, group manager of Enterprise Marketing Strategy, told me recently.