Microsoft ending support for Itanium

The current version of Windows Server will be the last for the high-end Intel processor

Microsoft is ending its support for Intel's Itanium processor with the current version of its Windows Server OS, according to a Microsoft blog posting Friday.

"Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the last version of Windows Server to support the Intel Itanium architecture," Dan Reger , a Microsoft senior technical product manager, wrote on the Windows Server Division Weblog. "SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 are also the last versions to support Itanium."

The news will come as a setback for Intel, which has struggled to get its 64-bit Itanium processors more widely used by server makers. It released the latest, quad-core version of Itanium in February after several delays. By that time Red Hat had already announced in January that it would not support Itanium with the next release of its Linux OS distribution.

Burton Group analyst Nik Simpson said it was "no coincidence" that Microsoft announced its decision during the same week that Intel released its powerful new multicore Xeon 7500 series processors, which include high-end reliability features that Intel once reserved for Itanium.

"For Microsoft, reliability was the only thing that Itanium had going for it, the number of Windows licenses sold on Itanium is negligible compared to the x64 business. So the decision to drop Itanium was probably a relatively easy one," Simpson wrote in a blog post.

Microsoft's Reger said much the same. "The natural evolution of the x86 64-bit ('x64') architecture has led to the creation of processors and servers which deliver the scalability and reliability needed for today's 'mission-critical' workloads," he wrote.

Microsoft will continue to provide mainstream support for Itanium-based systems until July 2013, and extended support until July 2018, Reger said, in line with its standard support policy.

Intel recently committed to delivering at least two more generations of Itanium during the next four years, dubbed Poulson and Kittson. 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.

But the end of support by Microsoft is sure to spark a fresh round of questions about the platform's prospects.

For Itanium, Microsoft's move is "bad, but not disastrous, at least for now," Simpson said.

Most Itanium processors are sold in servers running Hewlett-Packard's Unix variant, HP-UX, he noted. But there will soon be just a handful of OSes remaining for Itanium that have "enterprise-ready credentials," he wrote. Those include Novell's Suse Enterprise Linux (SEL), Groupe Bull's GCOS, and HP's HP-UX and OpenVMS.

"Of those operating system platforms, only HP-UX and OpenVMS actually require Itanium. GCOS and SEL are both supported on x64 processors, which will probably hasten the end of support on Itanium now that x64 can match Itanium for reliability," Simpson wrote.

"So HP is likely to be the last man standing in the Itanium systems business, but the new features and scalability of the 75xx Xeon beg the question, 'will HP adapt its Itanium hardware to support the Xeon 75xx and port HP-UX or OpenVMS to the x64 platform?'"

A Microsoft spokesman confirmed the company's blog post is accurate. Intel could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftwindows serverapplication supportwindows server 2008intelItanium

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?