A Microsoft representative alerted me yesterday that the company has issued new public betas of its upcoming 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP. In addition, the company revealed that it plans to change the names of these products to conform to AMD's x64 naming scheme.
  
"With development of a single Windows platform for x64, we will be officially changing the name of both x64 desktop and server offerings to Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition, and Windows Server 2003 Datacenter x64 Edition," the Microsoft representative said. Earlier, the products used the moniker 64-Bit Extended Systems, as in Windows XP for 64-Bit Extended Systems. But now that Intel has joined AMD to produce compatible 64-bit CPUs that run on top of the 32-bit x86 processor architecture, Microsoft is now using the simpler x64 term to refer to software that runs on the chips.
  
Microsoft also revealed that the pricing for the new x64 products will be identical to the 32-bit pricing. "Windows XP Professional x64 Edition will be priced at the same level as Windows XP Professional (32-bit)," the representative told me. "Similarly, the Windows Server 2003 x64 will be priced on par with Windows Server 2003 (32-bit). There will also be an option for customers to participate in a technology exchange in which they'll be able to trade in their 32-bit licenses for 64-bit licenses when they're available." (I discussed this technology exchange in an earlier issue of WinInfo Daily UPDATE.)
  
Regarding the x64 products' features, Microsoft noted that XP Pro x64 includes "near-feature parity with the 32-bit version" of XP Pro. Microsoft says that the new XP Pro x64 public beta includes support for Windows .NET Framework 1.1 and updates to the Luna UI, Power Management, Windows Messenger, Windows Media Player (WMP), Windows Movie Maker 2, the Bluetooth support infrastructure, and the wireless support infrastructure. The XP Pro x64 beta also includes language support for French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Swedish, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese.
  
You can download the XP Pro x64 beta and the Windows 2003 x64 beta through the Customer Preview Program on the Microsoft Web site. Both betas will run on AMD and Intel x64-based systems.