Microsoft Opens x64 Upgrades to Retail

Following confusion surrounding its Windows x64 Advancement Program, which offers a free upgrade from the standard 32-bit version of Windows XP to the recent 64-bit release, Microsoft has clarified the language on its Web site. All users, whether they purchased or built their PC, are now eligible for the 64-bit upgrade.

Microsoft had previously said publicly that any Windows XP user with an x64-supported processor, such as an Athlon 64, may trade in their license for the x64 Edition of Windows XP. But the company's Web site for the program stated the program only applied to purchased PCs with an OEM copy of Windows XP.

The move left many Athlon 64 users who built their PC unable to take advantage of the free upgrade. To make matters worse, Microsoft announced that it would only offer its 64-bit operating system via PC manufacturers and not sell the box on store shelves due to limited driver support.

"Windows XP 64-bit is not gonna be on retail shelves? So how in the world am I supposed to get it," asked on BetaNews reader. "I built a AMD Athlon 64 system for nothing?"

A Microsoft spokesperson said the x64 Advancement Program Web site was updated in response to such feedback. The site now also accepts a Windows XP product key in addition to the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label that comes with OEM PCs.

"In order to be eligible to receive Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, your computer must have been ordered or built between March 31, 2003 and July 31, 2005 and must contain an x64 processor. You must also have a Retail (Full Packaged Product), System Builder, or OEM version of Microsoft Windows XP Pro (32-bit) to exchange," the site reads.

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