Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 R2, and Visual Studio 2010 will represent the last versions to support Intel's Itanium architecture, Microsoft has announced on its Windows Server blog. Mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 R2 will end on July 9, 2013, with extended support ending five years later.
With most Itanium systems being used with HP-UX, this is not surprising. Microsoft already dropped Itanium support for desktop Windows with the release of Windows Vista, and with Windows only making up an estimated 5 percent of Itanium installations, the death of the server product seemed likely to follow. Microsoft is not the only company to drop the platform, either; Red Hat announced late last year that it would be ending Itanium support, as the level of usage did not justify the continued development effort.
Itanium was never a mass-market product, and the increased capabilities of x64 hardware have diminished its appeal in most scenarios. While Itanium once had reliability and scalability capabilities not found in x64 processors, this is no longer the case; Intel's latest processor offerings, the Xeon 7500 series, matches the Itanium platform for both scalability and reliability. This means that large mission-critical single-image systems with hundreds of cores have little need for Itanium; x64 will suffice.
Given the lack of widespread use of Windows on Itanium, the decision is unlikely to make much difference to Itanium sales; it is, however, sure to worsen the perception of IA64 as a dying platform. Coupled with Intel's consistent inability to release new versions on time and failure to ramp clock-speeds aggressively, IA64's future certainly looks pretty bleak.
Source: ars technica