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Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday will announce the beta availability of a native 64-bit version of its Windows XP operating system that is designed to support 64-Bit Extended Systems, including platforms based on AMD64 technology.

Microsoft will make the announcement at AMD’s launch of the AMD Athlon 64 processor in San Francisco.

The beta version of Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems will be made available to MSDN subscribers, and a final release is expected to be available in the first half of 2004.

Windows Server 2003 for 64-Bit Extended Systems also is available in beta with final release expected in the first half of 2004.

The updated 64-bit operating system, Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems, will run natively on AMD Athlon 64 processor-powered desktops and AMD Opteron processor-powered workstations.

The updated operating system includes the Microsoft Windows on Windows 64 (WOW64) technology, which will enable customers who currently have Windows XP-compatible 32-bit applications to run those applications on the 64-bit operating system.

The WOW64 architecture also takes advantage of the AMD64 architecture to enable compatibility with 32-bit applications without a loss of performance in most cases.