News filtering out from some sharp-eyed people on Usenet indicates that AMD's new 64-bit Hammer chip may be getting explicit XP support sooner than thought. That Microsoft is working on XP-AMD64, and other tools to go with, is no secret: the company won't comment, but there are error messages and appropriately named files in enough publicly-available MS products to remove any doubt.
This matches some curious behaviour by Intel during the IDF. It's not as if Microsoft didn't exist, more that Intel was feeling slightly embarrassed about the companies' closeness and eager to put some of that famous clear blue water between them. Certainly, while the company was going over its 64-bit server chip plans for the future, MS got only a cursory mention. That could reflect the reality that in the $25K+ systems range -- where Itanium and pals are going to play -- Windows still has nothing like the stranglehold of the low end, or their annoyance that MS is being nice to AMD.
As Intel knows, 64-bit chips don't go fast by themselves. You need a compiler that knows just how to treat them to get their best. and while Intel has the resources to buy up some of the finest compiler designers on the planet and team them with its silicon engineers AMD isn't so lucky. But if Microsoft is lending a hand, then the playing field may be a bit more even.