Yesterday, Microsoft finalized the Release Candidate 2 (RC2) code for three products: Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), Windows 2003 x64 Edition, and XP Pro x64 Edition. Each of these RC builds includes performance, stability, and security enhancements when compared with previous builds, as well as minor feature changes, Microsoft tells me.
Windows 2003 SP1 RC2 is now available as a public download, but the two x64 products are available only to beta testers for now. All three products are expected to ship in final form by late March.
The x64 versions of Windows 2003 and XP Pro are designed to run on PC and server systems based on AMD 64 and Intel's Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T) microprocessors, which combine the compatibility of the 32-bit x86 platform with the advanced memory capabilities of 64-bit systems.
To help auger in the new era of x64 hardware, Microsoft will begin accepting submissions for the Windows 2003 x64 and XP x64 "Designed for Windows" logo program. The company would like device makers and PC makers to qualify their products for the logo so that customers can identify which products will work with the new systems. I'll be reviewing Windows 2003 SP1, Windows Server x64, and XP x64 on the SuperSite for Windows soon.