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IT managers shouldn’t hold their breaths waiting for any of the new 64-bit Windows Server or Windows XP versions that Microsoft was shooting to deliver this year. And ditto with Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), the security-focused update originally targeted to ship this year.

Now, Microsoft officials are saying these updates won’t ship until some time in “the first half of 2005.” They cited quality concerns when asked for the cause of the delay.

“Microsoft wants to allow sufficient time for tuning and testing of SP1 and x64, particularly for the server-relevant security enhancements from Windows XP SP2, which is due to release to manufacturing (RTM) in August,” said a company spokeswoman.

Read more about the SP1 security feature list planned for Server 2003.

“We now anticipate Windows Server 2003 SP1 and Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems will ship in the first half of 2005, whereas we previously estimated the release timing for both to be the end of 2004,” the spokeswoman added. “Additionally, given Windows XP 64-bit for 64-bit Extended Systems is also tied to Windows Server 2003 SP1, it will also ship the first half of 2005.”

First word of the possible date slip for the 64-bit Windows releases was reported by Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Steven Bink on his Web site over the weekend. Bink said, according to internal company schedules, Microsoft had been hoping to ship the new 64-bit desktop and server Windows releases in December, but now is expecting to ship them in March 2005.

Microsoft officials wouldn’t be more specific as to the month or quarter they are now targeting to deliver the final 64-bit SKUs and SP1.

Several Windows enthusiast sites reported last week that Microsoft had delivered an interim build of Windows Server 2003 SP1 (build No. 1218) to registered beta testers last week. Microsoft officials would not confirm any information cited by beta testers regarding the interim build.

Instead, Microsoft officials held to its party line that SP1 will include the “server-relevant security technologies” that Microsoft will deliver in Windows XP Service Pack 2 next month, as well as a new security-configuration wizard that will “enable customers to further lock down enabled server roles (file server, app server, etc.) based on the specific usage model for that role.”

Microsoft officials also have said that the new 64-bit Extended System releases (for both Intel- and AMD-based systems) will be based Windows Server 2003 SP1.

Developers are hard at work on drivers for 64-Bit Linux and Windows. What devices are being supported?

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