As I speak with people I know, they tell me things about their technology lives. The conversation always gets around to what they like and don’t with what they use, what they are looking forward to, and what it would be nice to see happen in the future.

Many are very happy with Windows XP, and have few problems. Still, there are a few that are itching to try out Windows 7, simply because it will be a change. Microsoft is counting on that, because otherwise the only adopters of Windows 7 would be the people who had Vista foisted upon them.

When I look at the systems I work on, it is both amazing and a hard slap of reality. The average system I work on has only 512MB of memory, and many systems that have been spec’ed by a small firm as a one time purchase have only 256MB of memory. Of course these are systems that were purchased 3 – 4 years ago, and you simply would not believe how difficult it is to make the operating managers of these places see what might happen to productivity if those machines were bumped to at least 1GB.

As I ask these people other questions, moving to 64-bit computing seems to be almost the last thing on their minds. As a matter of fact, I can’t say I have ever worked on a machine that has a 64-bit OS installed (other than enthusiast friends’ machines).

Sure, there are more than a few servers that are 64-bit, and have more than 4 GB of main memory, but as for desktops, it’s not on the radar.

So why, when they have yet to release 64-bit versions of their own programs (Office, Windows Live essentials, etc.) would Microsoft get all fired up about 128-bit computing?

Still, there is a story on Ars Technica about the word about 128-bits in Windows 8 and 9 –

Believe it or not, Windows 7’s successor(s) have been in the planning and early development stages for a while now. We haven’t posted anything about any of them yet, but we’ve been watching closely to see if anything really interesting turned up. Exactly two weeks ago, it did. A LinkedIn profile, which has already been taken down, for a Robert Morgan, Senior Research & Development at Microsoft, has shone a sliver of light on the possibility of 128-bit support coming to Windows 8. Morgan has been with the software giant since January 2002, but we’re more intrigued with what his profile (first paragraph) and his status (second paragraph) recently stated, before his profile was taken down:

Working in high security department for research and development involving strategic planning for medium and longterm projects. Research & Development projects including 128bit architecture compatibility with the Windows 8 kernel and Windows 9 project plan. Forming relationships with major partners: Intel, AMD, HP, and IBM.

Robert Morgan is working to get IA-128 working backwards with full binary compatibility on the existing IA-64 instructions in the hardware simulation to work for Windows 8 and definitely Windows 9.

Windows 8 News found Morgan’s profile first and immediately started trying to get in contact with him over LinkedIn. When we saw this, we leaned back and waited to see if they could get a response from him. They did. The site claims it has managed to get an exclusive interview with Morgan and is letting its readers to ask questions. The deadline is October 11, 2009 so head on over and post your queries.

This news is interesting because we always thought Windows 7 would be the last release that had 32-bit and 64-bit versions. This was brought on by the fact that Windows Server 2008 R2, the server version of Windows 7, was the first Windows Server release to be 64-bit only. The next client version of Windows should therefore follow suit, but apparently Microsoft is going to prepare it for 128-bit as well. We’re not saying Windows 8 will definitely come in 64-bit and 128-bit flavors, but Microsoft is moving down that path, and at the very least, Windows 9 will.

I’m all for looking forward, but is this not truly going from the sublime (having 64-bit OS that actually has 64-bit applications) to the ridiculous (work on 128-bit operating system when there are no plans for mainstream 128-bit processors, and the average person is going to have to be dragged into 64-bits?) ?

I read about this stuff everyday, yet I have seen nothing from Intel or AMD, or anyone else for that matter, concerning a mainstream 128-bit processor.

from Wikipedia

In computer architecture, 128-bit integers, memory addresses, or other data units are those that are at most 128 bits 16 octets wide. Also, 128-bit CPU and ALU architectures are those that are based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size.

There are currently no mainstream general-purpose processors built to operate on 128-bit integers or addresses, though a number of processors do operate on 128-bit data. System/370, made by IBM, could be considered the first rudimentary 128-bit computer as it used 128-bit floating point registers. Most modern CPUs such as the Pentium and PowerPC have 128-bit vector registers used to store several smaller numbers, such as four 32-bit floating-point numbers. A single instruction can operate on all these values in parallel (SIMD). They are 128-bit processors in the sense that they have 128-bit registers, but they do not operate on individual numbers that are 128 binary digits in length.

As great as that might be for bragging rights, who would use it?  (I doubt that IBM will be asking for any copies of Windows 8, knowing that the rift between Microsoft and IBM is still as wide as ever) That 0.000001% of the market that might make use of it would not make it worthwhile – they are using clustered 64-bit CPUs anyway; chances are that they would not want the CPUs even if they were offered gratis. There are other ways to accomplish the same things, and they exist now, as do the applications and operating systems.



Quote of the day:

It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.

– Gore Vidal

(the guiding strategy of Steve Ballmer?)


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