IS MS ducking the Win64 question?

The OS codenamed Janus looks like being a long time coming...

Microsoft has taken a very low key approach to the 64-bit version of Windows, codenamed Janus, so low that it was not even mentioned at the recent financial analysts conference. This suggests that it is not even slideware yet. The search engine on Microsoft's web site includes a reference to an article in CRN that says that Janus is the code name for the Windows 2000 Data Center server, but does Microsoft does not confirm this otherwise. Microsoft has provided some information on how to support Win64 data models in its developer network documentation, and the Microsoft Platform SDK, but that's about all officially, apart from a Microsoft preliminary document on large memory enabled device driver and software requirements. This is very basic, and was only posted earlier this month. There is a warning that device drivers must be recompiled for Win64 because 32-bit device drivers, even if they an address a 64-bit address space, are not supported in Win64. ISA cards are also taboo for Windows 2000 and will not figure in the hardware compatibility list. It therefore looks as though Win64 hardware devices and drivers will not be ready until later next year, so it would be optimistic to expect Janus to appear before 2001 - perhaps to cries of Hal-lelujah? Meanwhile, Compaq yesterday announced that it has set up a Win64 porting centre in Bellevue, near Redmond, with 64-bit Alpha-powered machines to help developers test their applications. All that's missing is Win64. Microsoft intends that Win 64 will support Merced. However, it is not expected that Win64 will not be available until after the first Windows 2000 bug fix, which will be maybe second half 2000, plus a sack or two of salt, so probably at least a year. There's plenty of scope here for the Wintel duo to blame each other for the delays. Microsoft has given out confusing messages as to whether Windows 2000 Data Center was to be a different product from Win64. The plan is to bring out the Data Center version some months after Windows 2000, where "some" is upwards of three months, probably with a 32-bit version of Windows 2000, and then rejig it when Microsoft gets Win64 working. Microsoft has been briefing some of its friends about Win64, but has said nothing officially. Should it bring out a duff Win64 and claim it to be a Unix killer, Microsoft will be laughed all the way back to Unixland. Putting together all the leaks and clues from the briefings, and the recent Fusion meeting in San Francisco for Microsoft partners last weekend, it looks as though Microsoft already knows that its Active Directory is not up to the requirements of a zero-downtime Win64, so it is having to be reworked, especially as Novell's NDS is being taken very seriously and NetWare is selling like hot cakes. Windows 2000 will not initially have load balancing and failover support, something that IBM and Compaq have already for NT 4.0. The advantage of 64-bit addressing is of course that there can be direct addressing beyond 4 Gigabytes. Intel's own chip sets will limit the addressable space to 64 Gigabytes, but third parties will probably produce Terabyte chip sets. The Janus codename may be a bit of a joke too: Janus was the two-faced Roman god of doorways, gates, and quite likely windows. It looks as though Microsoft will need all the help it can get to crank up Win64, and two heads could be better than one. ®

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