Microsoft pulls the plug on future Itanium support

Summary:Microsoft has made it official: It is phasing out its support Intel's Itanium architecture, though it will take the company an estimated eight years to fully do so.

Microsoft has made it official: It is phasing out its support Intel's Itanium architecture, though it will take the company an estimated eight years to fully do so.

In a post on April 2 on the Windows Server blog, Dan Reger, Senior Technical Product Manager, said that Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the last version of Windows Server to support Itanium. SQL Server 2008 R2 (which is due to ship this coming May) and Visual Studio 2010 (slated to launch later this month) also are the last versions of those product families to support the architecture, according to the company.

Itanium has been surpassed by new and more capable x64 technology from both Intel and AMD, Reger said in explaining the move.

Microsoft will allow the Itanium versions of its products to run the normal support course, he said. From Reger's post:

"Current support for Itanium remains unchanged. Each of these products represent the state of the art of their respective product lines.  Each fully support Itanium, support the recently-released Itanium 9300 ('Tukwila') processor, and Microsoft’s support for these products will continue – following the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy. Mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems (and R2) will end, in accordance with that policy, on July 9, 2013, while extended support will continue until July 10, 2018. That’s 8 more years of support."

Microsoft may be ready to move on from Itanium, but Intel -- which introduced a new quad-version of Itanium in February 2010 -- may not be. As PC World noted, Intel has said it plans to release at least two more generations of Itanium during the next four years, HP, "which made a big bet on Itanium when it ended the development of its own PA-RISC processor, has repeatedly said that it is committed to Itanium's future," PC World added.

Red Hat also has said it plans to phase out support for Itanium, as first reported by The Register.

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Processors

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Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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