At some point along the way, you've probably been given this advice about public speaking: (1) tell them what you're going to say; (2) tell them; and (3) tell them what you've said. I've always found that to be good guidance, yet so easy to overlook or disgard because there's so much I want to say.

Similarly, in November 2005, we told customers and partners about Windows Server's transition to 64-bit. We told everyone what we were going to do, here's an excerpt:

As part of its commitment to 64-bit computing, Microsoft has been delivering products that are optimized for 64-bit, including the newly released SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and Virtual Server 2005 R2. To help customers take full advantage of the power of 64-bit computing, products including Microsoft Exchange Server “12,” Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, Windows Server “Longhorn” Small Business Server, and Microsoft’s infrastructure solution for midsize businesses, code-named “Centro,” will be exclusively 64-bit and optimized for x64 hardware. In a future update release to Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Server “Longhorn” operating system, code-named Windows Server “Longhorn” R2, customers will see the complete transition to 64-bit-only hardware, while still benefiting from 32-bit and 64-bit application compatibility. For the highest-scale application and database workloads, Windows Server on 64-bit Itanium-based systems will continue to be the premier choice for customers for years to come.

In short, Windows Server 2008 will be the last 32-bit server OS from Microsoft. Onward to 64-bit only. Heck, 87% of all the servers shipping today are x86-64; x86-32 shipments have been declining and are about 7% of shipments.

So this week's WinHEC served as a time to remind customers and partners what we're going to do. Bill Laing showed a roadmap of server products that are already 64-bit only, such as Exchange 2007, Windows CCS, Windows Server virtualization, others, and approximate timeframe for other server products.

Unfortunately, Joe Wilcox and a few others got it wrong and heard that Windows Server 2008 would be the last 32-bit OS from Microsoft ... server and client. Cue Bob Harris pitching Suntory whiskey in "Lost in Translation." While the server team is bullish on 64-bit, the embedded and desktop world isn't near ready for x64 only. So the Vista team cleared up reporter's confusion today.

So as that day approaches -- the "tell them" day -- we'll keep reminding customers/partners of the workloads that benefit from 64-bit. Here's just a sample:

  • databases of serveral GB or more in size
  • connection-oriented apps, like Terminal Services
  • computationally-oriented apps, such as encryption or HPC
  • Email server: the Exchange 2007 team saw significant performance gains with the move to x64 only
  • Any server with more than 4 GB of RAM is a candidate for x64
  • Virtualization: our internal IT team has seen huge performance improvements from x64 host OS

And as a colleague asks me, "do customers really want to deploy a dual-proc, quad-core server with 2 GB of RAM, which leaves each core, on average, with 256 MB of RAM to work with?" My colleague is a big fan of 1 GB per core, which means 64-bit server OS.

Patrick