The company announced that its Windows Advanced Server, Limited Edition, is now available for computers based on Intel's 64-bit Itanium chip.
Microsoft said that Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard and IBM will start shipping servers running the new operating system within 30 days. Other computer makers will ship it later this year.
The Itanium chip, aimed at heavy-duty workstations and servers for businesses and engineering, supports greater amounts of system memory and offers stronger floating-point, or mathematical, capabilities than current 32-bit desktop processors. The extra memory support and the floating-point capabilities serve to increase the performance of applications including Web hosting, data warehousing, computer-aided design and scientific research.
The 64-bit version of Windows, based on Windows 2000, joins several other 64-bit operating systems ported to Itanium, including several Linux releases. Microsoft is also working on 64-bit versions of its Windows XP operating system. The new XP-based 64-bit OSes, one each for workstations and servers, are due next year.
"Itanium-based servers combined with Microsoft's latest server software offer customers superior performance, greater choice, reliability and investment protection at significantly lower costs than proprietary solutions," Abhi Talwalkar, vice president and assistant general manager, Intel Enterprise Platforms Group, said in a prepared statement.