Windows XP x64 Edition Reaches RC2

Closing in on a scheduled April release, Microsoft has delivered to beta testers Release Candidate 2 of Windows XP x64 Edition, along with RC2 of Windows Server 2003 SP1. A new addition to the Windows family, x64 is designed to operate with the AMD Athlon 64 and Opteron processors, as well as the Intel processors with EM64T.

"This is our second major milestone and highest quality release to date
for the beta," Microsoft beta coordinators wrote in an e-mail to testers. "However, please keep in mind that it is not final release quality and you should limit your installations to test machines."

Windows XP x64 Edition RC2, numbered build 1433, is available on WindowsBeta to registered testers. Non-testers, however, can download older RC1 build 1289 free of charge via Microsoft's consumer preview program.

For Windows Server 2003 SP1, which provides the underpinnings for the company's upcoming 64-bit Windows Server line, Microsoft has included a "Security Configuration Wizard" to protect systems from attacks.

RC2 includes a number of improvements to SCW such as a completely new firewall, automatic port detection, additional server role definitions, as well as complete command line support. SCW is installed separately from Windows Server 2003 SP1 through the Add\Remove Windows Components dialog.

Microsoft is expected to soon begin accepting hardware device submissions for its "Designed for Windows" logo program that cover x64 Editions of its operating systems.

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