Friday, June 03, 2005

The saga that is the exchange program

OK, so today's topic is going to be the exchange program that we currently offer for 32bit users to migrate their license to x64 edition. The requirements in case you arent aware of the program are located here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/64bit/upgrade/default.mspx and here https://microsoft.productorder.com/clientx64/default.aspx

Currently, the exchange program is taking roughly 4-6 weeks to get to those who ordered it. For some it seems that this is unreasonable. I disagree personally, I think that the exchange program is an awesome way for people to get basically free software from Microsoft with the exception being that you will need to have a little patience while the CDs are burned, the order processed and the 32bit license deactivated. I honestly dont see what the big deal is here.

One thing to keep in mind for those of you who are considering this is that the exchange program is that if you choose to go with the Microsoft exchange program, then you will lose your supportability with your OEM, if you have OEM media. This is a BIG deal, so make sure you fully understand what that means before you do so. If you have OEM media, call your OEM before using our program to see if they offer something similar, because it will remain supported by them. Also, keep in mind the fact that drivers are our number one issue right now, and that most OEM shipped machines have all of the drivers installed when they ship. This means that if you choose to exchange your license with Microsoft and you lose your 32bit license and THEN you cant find drivers for your devices you are in big trouble.

So, in closing, if you ordered the exchange program, awesome, thank you.....now be patient. If you havent, make sure you know what you are getting into before doing so or you might be very disappointed and not have anyone to turn to. Microsoft DOES NOT WRITE DRIVERS, so if you call us after an installation and say your doesnt work, we're only going to tell you to speak with your hardware vendor. Which in reality, you should have done prior to ordering the exchange in the first place.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

More stuff...

So some other things came to mind that are asked pretty frequently. Things will appear here as I have the time to think of them.

1. You cant upgrade to x64. If you need to have a dual boot installation with your current install, make sure that you have a separate drive or partition for the OS to go on, otherwise you're in for a very bad situation. As always, make sure you back up your data prior to doing so.
2. If you cant upgrade, you cant uninstall either. This means that when you are done using x64, if you dont like it, you must format the drive or partition its on and remove the boot.ini entries for it.
3. You can upgrade from prior beta editions, but Microsoft doesnt support this. You do this, you're on your own.
4. Your OEM is your main point of support. Whomever you purchase your software from, they hold the responsibilty for supporting you. This is why its a good idea to by pre-installed x64 editions, so you have a support outlet. It also takes care of the driver issues mentioned earlier as most OEM shipped versions have drivers for the devices onboard.

Other links:
http://www.planetamd64.com/ (PlanetAMD64, excellent resource for drivers)
http://www.64bitstuff.com/ (64bitstuff is another great external site for drivers and information)

Some helpful links and a quick Q&A

The main x64 newsgroup that Microsoft runs is :
microsoft.public.windows.64bit.general

You can see the public Microsoft x64 sites here:
Windows XP x64: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/64bit/default.mspx
Windows 2003 x64: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/64bit/x64/default.mspx

Trial software can be downloaded from either of those links, Windows XP x64
is a 120 day trial, and Windows 2003 x64 is a 180 day trial, and both come
without support of any kind. You can always find good information in the
newsgroups for common issues with either of these trial versions.

Speaking of which, let's go over some of the common questions we see on the newsgroups.

Q. Can x64 editions run 32bit software.
A. Yes, and no. x64 supports most 32bit applications as long as they dont require a 32bit kernel mode driver. Applications that typically have such drivers are antivirus, firewalls and some CD burning applications. Also, there are some 32bit applications that have 16bit installers that we dont upgrade on the fly, those applications will need to be referred to the manufacturer for a new installer package.

Q. Is x64 twice as fast as 32bit Windows?
A. No. You might see some speed gains in certain applications but in general we run 32bit applications at full speed (comparable to a 32bit OS).

Q. What do I need on a hardware level to run x64?
A. You must have a supported CPU from AMD or Intel. Right now, those CPUs are AMD Athlon64 and Opteron64's and the Intel EM64T line of Xeons and Pentium4's.

Q. Where can I buy x64? Why havent I seen it at my local retailer?
A. x64 is OEM, MSDN, and Software Assurance only. This means that you can most likely go to your local computer store and purchase a mouse and x64, or you can always get it from the larger OEM's preinstalled (such as Dell or Compaq/HP). You can not buy it off of a shelf.

Q. What are the major issues currently being seen in x64 editions?
A. Right now the major issues revolve around application compatibility (see above) and drivers. Drivers must be 64bit to work properly in x64. If you cannot find a 64bit driver for your device, and it isnt included in Windows, then you will need to speak to your vendor. Microsoft does not write drivers for devices, the hardware vendors do. Also, x64 editions enforce drive decoration, which means that you might have a 64bit driver but it will appear to fail to install properly. This can be due to INF decoration, I wrote a public KB article on this which can be found here: http://support.microsoft.com/?id=888728

Q. Where can I find Intellimouse software for my Microsoft mouse or keyboard?
A. Currently, there isnt any. There should be an x64 version of it in the near future.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Getting things started

My name is Joseph Conway and I currently work as a Support Escalation Engineer for Microsoft Corp. Most recently I served as the x64 beta lead for the newly released x64 line of operating systems from Microsoft.

As this is a new technology area that spans both the consumer and business spaces, I wanted to have a personal place to post relevant information on x64, information thats industry wide, etc. Note that all information posted here is my own personal opinion and Microsoft or any of its associated companies has nothing to do with the validity of the comments or information posted here. So if you see it here, its coming from me, take that for what its worth.