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Microsoft is delaying the launch of 64-bit Windows again. Originally due for earlier this year the software will not now be ready until the first half of 2005.

A spokeswoman for Microsoft confirmed to IDG that Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems and Windows XP 64-bit Edition will not be available until some time in the first half of next year. Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003 has also been delayed til next year.

AMD and Intel already sell 64-bit chips which crunch more data per second and have better access to memory. Applications written for 32-bit machines will still work on the new chips.

On the server side, the delay could benefit rival operating systems like Linux or Sun's Solaris, which already runs on the new chips. But Microsoft's power on the desktop could see people delaying replacing their machines until Microsoft software is available to run on them. ®

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