The OS is up and operational, and all the basic functions work. 32-bit and 64-bit application support is seamless and fully functional, and hardware that already has native 64-bit drivers appear to work just as one would expect them to. Obviously, we can’t test performance of the OS versus the 32-bit variant of XP, due to there not being enough driver support to carry out a fair comparison. In the future, when the OS is at a more mature level and driver support has improved, we certainly look forward to seeing if AMD’s claims of better performance through 64-bit computing will pan out.
For a pre-beta stage, we'd say the entire package is quite solid, but there is one caveat which will make or break the launch of this OS. Drivers. While Microsoft already has quite a few native 64-bit drivers bundled with the operating system, we're not anywhere near the amount of drivers needed to achieve mainstream compatability. Let's not downplay the fact that this requires a MASSIVE amount of effort not only from AMD, but from their hardware partners as well. They've got a great start on drivers, let's hope they can build up a healthy stockpile of working drivers before the OS gets released.
Of course, please consider that the operating system we're looking at today may look and function in a completely different manner. The current variant of Windows XP 64-bit Edition for AMD 64 is still in the pre-beta stages, and likely won't be hitting production-level quality for another few months. It's quite clear that Windows XP 64-bit for AMD64 will not be released in time for the Athlon 64 launch later this month, as was originally planned. Judging by our time with the operating system, our guesstimate would be that Microsoft could have a very solid product by the end of this year, which should be just when Opteron and Athlon 64 support is starting to pick up.
Just like Windows XP 64-bit Edition for Itanium, it is not expected that Windows XP 64-bit Edition for AMD64 will be widely released as a retail product. Pricing for the OS and how it will be distributed are still up in the air.
We'd also like to thank the folks at AMD who politely and promptly answered our questions regarding the OS.
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