Sun poised to ship 64-bit Solaris for Merced

At least six months ahead of Win64 first beta. Oh dear...

Sun will turn up the heat on Microsoft this autumn by shipping key developers an early access release of Solaris for Intel's IA-64 simulator. Although Intel has now demonstrated Merced silicon in action, for the near future much software development will still be carried out on the simulator. Sun is demonstrating 64-bit Intel Solaris at this week's Intel Developer Forum, and the company has already made it clear that it intends to use 64-bitness as a stick to beat Microsoft. The latter's Win64 for Merced was demonstrated earlier this week, but the company isn't planning a first beta until the first half of next year, giving rivals from Sun, SCO and the Linux developers a chance to run with the 64-bit ball earlier. And in light the recent confusion involving Compaq and NT for Alpha, it looks far more likely that Win64 will suffer the traditional Microsoft slippage rather than hitting the schedule. Tellingly, Microsoft is planning a hybrid 32/64-bit version of Windows 2000 to deal with early 64-bit platforms, plus a mechanism to allow Win2k to address more memory. If Microsoft was absolutely convinced it could ship Win64 for Merced's release, then these wouldn't be necessary, right? Sun meanwhile is polishing up an IA-64 ISV programme which will allow ISVs to develop IA-64 optimised applications using Solaris IA-32 and Sun IA-64 cross-compilation tools. It will also be possible for existing Solaris 64-bit UltraSparc applications to be recompiled for IA-64. Sun's ISVs will receive an IA-64 simulator system pre-configured by Intel, IA-64 Solaris, a tools suite, white papers and direct access to Sun's engineering development team. ®

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