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Microsoft to support AMD's Sledgehammer?

Definitely... maybe...

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Two tantalising hints have emerged suggesting that Microsoft really does plan to support AMD's upcoming Hammer family of 64-bit processors.

Both clues come from third-party postings on a couple of investor-oriented bulletin boards. The first is said to be a copy of an email from Microsoft itself, posted on Silicon Investor. Asked by a punter whether the company will support AMD's x86-64 architecture via the Sledgehammer chip, the Beast's spokesimp apparently replied: "Yes we are always working with AMD to make our OS compatible."

Not a direct affirmative, perhaps, but probably the closest Microsoft will come to one.

The second posting, this time over at Motley Fool, says: "Last week I met with a friend who works for MSFT who I have been discussing AMD with and who was also at a presentation given by Bill G last week.

"Apparently Bill G talked about the forthcoming 64-bit processors saying that AMD had a simple and (32-bit) compatible approach to 64-bit while Intel's Itanium had a completely new architecture that would need software to be re-written for it. Bill ended the subject by saying that MSFT will be supporting both processors."

All of which is interesting given comments made by a senior Microsoft staffer at a European developers conference last autumn. Asked if the next generation of Windows 2000 - codenamed Whistler, but now known as Windows XP - wouldn't be released earlier in order to cater for the release of AMD's Sledgehammer, the speaker said: "No, because we have no intention of supporting the Sledgehammer with Whistler."

XP is due this summer. Apparently, the Microsoftie's stark response was shortly afterward modified from "never" to "later", which, since AMD's current roadmap has Sledgehammer shipping early 2002, makes sense. Of course, since x86-64 appears to offer better backward compatibility with 32-bit apps than Itanium - ie. better support for apps Microsoft sells and will continue to sell - Microsoft would be daft to ignore the platform. Microsoft may be many things, but stupid isn't one of them.

Of course, both postings could be false - either the posters are pulling a fast one, or their sources - and there's no third-party confirmation, but both do suggest movement from Microsoft's previous position of saying either nothing or 'no'. ®

Related Links

The Motley Fool posting
The Silicon Investor posting

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