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Microsoft has cancelled a version of Windows XP for Intel's Itanium processor that no one really used and even fewer people cared about.

Gone is the 64-bit iteration of Windows XP meant to run on Itanium workstations and one day, in Intel's wildest dreams, on Itanium-powered home PCs. Microsoft will now concentrate its 64-bit desktop OS efforts on the x86-64-bit chips from Intel and AMD. It will also continue to make a high-end version of its Server OS for Itanium chips.

"Because Windows on x64 systems delivers excellent flexibility and choice, while also enabling a smooth migration from 32-bit to 64-bit applications, Microsoft believes Windows for Itanium-based systems is a stronger offering in the high-end server market, and will continue to promote and offer Windows Server 2003 Enterprise and Datacenter Editions for Itanium-based systems," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "For the mainstream server and workstation markets, however, we believe we can best serve our customers needs with Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition, and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, respectively."

Since no major vendors actually sell Itanium workstations anymore, the loss of Windows XP 64-Bit Edition Version 2003 is hardly earth-shattering material. What's more significant is that this OS drop marks the second dismissal of Itanium by Microsoft. In November, Microsoft confessed that it won't support Itanium with an upcoming version of Windows tuned for clusters - Itanium's strongest segment of the server market.

It's hard to say how many people ever actually used 64-bit Windows XP for Itanium. The OS missed many of the features present in the 32-bit OS, often arrived late and was, well, relegated to the dismal Itanic market. Most Itanium workstation customers ran Linux on their systems as well.

For a nice recap of Microsoft's 64-bit OS trials and tribulations have a look here. ®

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