Gates previews 64-bit Windows

Microsoft Chair and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates told the show attendees that moving from 32-bit to 64-bit development will be much easier than the previous move from 16-bit to 32-bit.

The "16-bit model that Intel blessed us with [included] tricky things forced on software development," Gates said.

"There is a new instruction set here, an instruction set that Intel and partners like [Hewlett-Packard] poured billions of dollars into," Gates said. "Microsoft has been very supportive of this effort every step of the way."

Intel has been working on a 64-bit chip for years, and Gates repeated the assertion by both members of the Wintel duopoly that 64-bit Windows will be a reality by the end of 2000. At the PDC, Microsoft is demonstrating machines running the Intel's 64-bit Itanium chip.

"Taking a 32-bit application and porting it to the 64-bit Itanium, you'll find, is dramatically easier than going from 16-bit to 32-bit," Gates said.

Smoothly transitioning Windows to 64-bit computing is key for Microsoft, which hopes to further push Windows 2000 into the enterprise and show that it can compete with competing high-end systems.

"One of the key milestones for Microsoft is showing the world that this high-volume Windows-based platform can scale beyond even the low-volume expensive platforms," Gates said.

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