Microsoft is closing the doors on all 32–bit versions of Windows after Server 2008 ships later this year. This announcement came during the second day of WinHEC as Microsoft posted an updated version of their Windows Server shipment schedule:

Server Schedule
Image via Todd Bishop

This move to 64–bit operating systems will definitely be for the better, even thought the transition probably won’t be pretty. I can already picture it now when home users go out to purchase the next version of Windows only to find out that their computers aren’t capable of running it. The result could be quite a nightmare, and probably similar to the experiences of switching from 16–bit (ex. Windows 3.11) to 32–bit (ex. Windows 95).

64–bit computing definitely has its benefits, but the transition will take some time and cause a lot of headaches. The hardest thing for most people when switching to 64–bit Windows are finding compatible drivers for their hardware. Software applications can typically be started in a “compatibility mode” that gives 32–bit applications the ability to run in 64–bit Windows, but the same thing cannot be done for drivers. This means that the operating system either has to include all of the drivers you need, or the device manufacturer needs to produce the necessary drivers. Up to now there has really been no motivation for these device manufacturers to develop the drivers, but now that they know what the future has in store for them they might start shifting their priorities.

Also at WinHEC, managed to snap an image of Vista Service Pack 1 running on one of the PC’s:

Vista SP1

Mary Jo Foley was starting to think that Microsoft might not even ship a service pack for Vista after all the talk about how great the Windows Updates were. This sighting at least shows that they are thinking about creating a Service Pack 1 even though a list of enhancements and a release date is still not available.