Microsoft has reported that it will no longer develop its Windows Server software beyond the current 2008 version of the product for Itanium. Some analysts see the development as another step away from the processor that powers the only servers which can run the HP-UX environment.
In a Microsoft blog, the company reports
With the increasing scalability and additions of mission critical features of the x86-64 server platforms, customers are taking advantage of these new technologies available for industry standard servers, such as those coming to market built on both the newest Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processors. In response to these changes Microsoft is streamlining our product portfolio. Therefore Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 will be the last versions of these products to support the Intel Itanium processor.
Per Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy, these current versions will continue to be supported via Mainstream Support until mid-2013 and Extended Support until mid-2018.
If you thought you'd left the phrase "Extended Support" behind you while migrating from the HP 3000, you have a rerun of the experience if you've moved to an Integrity server and are operating under Windows Server. This might be a small slice of the migrated 3000 community -- many have chosen Xeon or Opteron systems. But this is a troubling sign for a chip that grows deeper into a niche with every year.
HP 3000 customers have built careers on working in a closed, one-vendor environment. HP built the 3000 hardware and carried on development of MPE/iX for decades. Now the HP-UX customer is working with the same situation, and seeing the popularity of the chip which runs HP's Unix continue to decline.
An extra three years of mainstream support, followed by another five years of Extended Support, will do nothing to inspire application development of Windows Server solutions for Itanium. This is the same kind of end-chime that HP pealed for the 3000 and MPE/iX.
App developers working in the 3000 community have been edging away from Integrity and Itanium for several years. Few want to go on the record about their retreat, since they're HP channel partners and don't want to jeopardize a longstanding business relationship. But concurrent development of 3000 alternatives, using industry-standard hardware rather than Itanium, is commonplace in the enterprise world which knows 3000 sites.
The only other business HP operates like this is its OpenVMS community. This week they're meeting to swap technical solutions, a development we'll talk more about tomorrow.