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HTG Explains: What’s the Difference Between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows?

32bitheader

Whether shopping for a new computer or upgrading an old one, you’ve likely come across the the “64-bit” designation and wondered what it meant. Read on as we explain what Windows 7 64-bit is and why you’d want a piece of that 64-bit pie.

Windows 7 and 8 have done an enormous amount to increase the popularity of 64-bit computing among home users but many people are unclear on what exactly it means (and may not even realize they’re already running it). Today we’re taking a look at the history of 32-bit and 64-bit computing, whether or not your computer can handle it, and the benefits and shortcomings of using a 64-bit Windows environment.

A Very Brief History of 64-bit Computing

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Before we start dazzling you with interesting history, let’s get the basics down. What does 64-bit even mean? In the context of discussions about 32-bit and 64-bit personal computers the XX-bit format refers to the width of the CPU’s register.

The register is a small amount of storage used by the CPU where the CPU keeps the data it needs to access the quickest in order for optimum computer performance. The bit designation refers to the width of the register, thus a 64-bit register can hold more data than a 32-bit register which in turn holds more than 16-bit and 8-bit registers. The more ample the space in the CPU’s register system the more it can handle, especially in terms of utilizing system memory. A CPU with a 32-bit register, for example, has a ceiling of 232 addresses within the register and is thus limited to accessing 4GB of RAM. This may have seemed like an enormous volume of RAM when they were hashing out register sizes 40 years ago but it’s a rather inconvenient limit for modern computers.

Although it may seem like 64-bit computing is the new kid on the techno-wizardry block, it has actually been around for decades. The first computer to utilize a 64-bit architecture was the Cray UNICOS, which sets a precedent for 64-bit super computers (the Cray 1 is seen in the center of the photo above). 64-bit computing would remain the sole province of super computers and large servers for the next 15 or so years. During that time consumers were exposed to 64-bit systems, but most were completely unaware of it. The Nintendo 64 and the Playstation 2, both seen in the photo above, had 64-bit processors a full 5 years before consumer level 64-bit CPUs and accompanying operating systems even make a faint appearance on the public radar.

Consumer confusion over what 64-bit means to them and poor driver support severely hampered the push towards 64-bit personal computers throughout most of the 2000s. In 2001 Microsoft released Windows XP 64-bit edition which, save for those wanting to deal with extremely limited driver support and many headaches, was not widely adopted. The following year OS X Panther and a handful of Linux distributions began supporting 64-bit CPUs in varying capacities. Mac OS X didn’t fully support 64-bit for another five years with the release of OS X Leopard. Windows supported 64-bit in Windows Vista but, again, it wasn’t widely adopted. All around it’s a bumpy road for 64-bit adoption among home users. The release of Windows 7, however, turned things in favor of 64-bit computing and many off-the-shelf computers now ship with Windows 7 64-bit.

Can Your Computer Handle 64-bits?

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Whether you’re a Windows XP holdout contemplating an upgrade to Windows 7 or you’re curious if your computer running Windows 7 32-bit can handle an upgrade to Windows 7 64-bit, there are a few handy ways to check.

You can check your version of Windows installation to see if you’re already running a 64 bit OS. Under Windows Vista and Windows 7 all you need to do is right click on Computer in the Start Menu and click Properties in the right-click context menu. This will take you to the System Properties menu (as seen in the screenshot above) and show you, under System type, whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system.

If you’re running Windows XP you can check in a similar fashion but the chances of you being a Windows XP 64-bit user are fairly slim. The most important step you can take with an XP machine (or a Windows Vista/7 machine running the 32-bit version) is to test your processor and see if it’s even possible for you to upgrade to a 64-bit version of Windows.

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To perform the test you’ll want to grab a copy of Steve Gibson’s free and portable application SecurAble. Seen in the screenshot above, SecurAble tests for three processor variables. First it tests your processor to see if it is 64-bit. Second, it checks to see if the chip supports D.E.P. (a security technology designed to protect machines from “unchecked buffer” attacks). Finally, it indicates if your machine can handle Windows XP virtualization under Windows 7 (hardware virtualization has other applications, but the much talked about XP virtualization under Windows 7 is by far the best known use). If you’re curious you can click on any of the results in SecurAble to get a more detailed run down of the results and what they mean. In the case of our test machine, seen above, the CPU is good to go for 64-bit computing, D.E.P. protection, and hardware virtualization.

The Benefits and Shortcomings of 64-bit Computing

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You’ve read a little on the history of 64-bit computing and your system check indicates you can run Windows 7 64-bit. Now what? Let’s run through the pros and cons of switching over to a 64-bit operating system.

What do you have to look forward to if you make the leap? Here are some of the enormous benefits to making the jump to a 64-bit system:

  • You can rock radically more RAM. How much more? 32-bit versions of Windows (and other OSes for that matter) are limited to 4096MB  (or 4GB) of RAM. 64-bit versions are theoretically capable of supporting a little over 17 billion GBs of RAM thanks to that spacious register system we talked about earlier. Realistically, Windows 7 64-bit Home editions are limited (because of licensing issues, not physical limitations) to 16GB of RAM and the Professional and Ultimate editions can rock up to 192GB of RAM.
  • You’ll see increased efficiency. Not only can you install more RAM in your system (easily as much as your motherboard can support) you’ll also see more efficient use of that RAM. Because of the nature of the 64-bit address system in the register and how Windows 64-bit allocates memory you’ll see less of your system memory chewed up by secondary systems (like your video card). Although you may only double the physical amount of RAM in your machine it will feel like way more than that because of the new efficiency of your system.
  • Your computer will be able to allocated more virtual memory per process. Under 32-bit architecture Windows is limited to assigning 2GB of memory to an application. Modern games, video and photo editing applications, and hungry applications like virtual machines, crave large chunks of memory. Under 64-bit systems they can have, brace yourself for another big theoretical number, up to 8TB of virtual memory. That’s more than enough for even the craziest of Photoshop editing and Crysis sessions. On top of the more efficient use and allocation of memory, applications optimized for 64-bit operating systems, such as Photoshop and Virtualbox, are super fast and take full advantage of the spaciousness of the processor and memory afforded to them.
  • You’ll enjoy advanced security features. Windows 64-bit with a modern 64-bit processor enjoys additional protections not available to 32-bit users. These protections include the aforementioned hardware D.E.P., as well as Kernel Patch Protection that protects you against kernel exploits, and device drivers must be digitally signed which cuts down on the incident of driver-related infections.

That all sounds wonderful, no? What about the shortcomings? Fortunately the list of shortcomings that come with adopting a 64-bit operating system is increasingly smaller as time goes on. Still there are a few considerations:

  • You can’t find 64-bit drivers for older but critical devices on your system. This one is a serious deal killer. Fortunately vendors are increasingly supporting 64-bit operating systems (you should have little problems with hardware manufactured in the last year or two). Unfortunately you’ll be hard pressed to get drivers for older devices. Have an expensive sheet-fed scanner from 2003? Love it? Too bad. You’re probably not going to find any 64-bit drivers for it. Hardware companies would rather spend their energy supporting new products (and encouraging you to buy them) than supporting older hardware. For small things that are easily replaced or need to be upgrades anyway, this isn’t a big deal. For mission critical and expensive hardware it is. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the upgrade cost and tradeoffs are worth it.
  • Your motherboard doesn’t support more than 4GB of RAM. Although it’s rare it’s not unheard of to have a motherboard that will support an early 64-bit processor but not support more than 4GB of RAM. In this case you’ll still get some of the benefits of a 64-bit processor but you won’t get the benefit that most people crave: access to more memory. If you’re not buying bleeding edge parts, however, hardware has gotten so cheap lately that it might be time to retire the old motherboard and upgrade at the same time you’re upgrading your OS.
  • You have legacy software or other software issues to deal with. Some software doesn’t make the transition to 64-bit smoothly. Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows 7 64-bit has no support at all for 16-bit applications. If by some chance you’re still using a really old legacy application for something you’ll need to either virtualize it or forgo an upgrade. Also, just because an application is 64-bit doesn’t mean the plugins and extensions for it are. Photoshop and Firefox are common applications where people run into this problem. The core application is available in an updated 64-bit form but important plugins are not.

Before we leave the cons side of things, I’m going to weigh in on a personal level. I have been running Windows 7 64-bit for nearly 2 years now and I have run into only a single issue related to the operating system being 64-bit. Everything has functioned smoothly, I’ve enjoyed rocking 8GB of ram, I’ve run half a dozen virtual machines at one time without a hitch, and overall I’ve been extremely pleased. The only issue I ran into was trying to get my early 2000-era Canon scanner to function. Canon simply failed to produce a driver set for it and all the hacks and tweaks failed to coerce it to work. Ultimately I just bought a new and equally as cheap scanner for $50 and called it a day. All things considered it was a very nominal trade off and given how little I actually use a scanner it’s possible I might still be unaware it wasn’t working. 64-bit computing has become affordable, easy to use, and virtually headache free.


Have your own experiences with 64-bit Windows to share? Whether you were an early 64-bit adopter or are on the upgrade fence, let’s hear about it in the comments.

 

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/22/11

Comments (57)

  1. J

    64bit XP was a nightmare!

    64bit windows 7 has only troubled me once. My school required some old cisco VPN software not available for 64bit. Solved it by using XP mode. A week later my school offered a new VPN software…

  2. Hatryst

    Excellent info…!
    Maybe one can try running both versions side by side on the same PC…

  3. Béranger

    Win64 might be able to allocate more than 2 GB per application, but this is only valid… for 64-bit applications.

    Most people would only use 32-bit applications, no matter what Windows (32/64) they use.

    Do they sell separate 64-bit editions of Office, Photoshop, etc? I couldn’t notice this in ANY advertisment! So I take it this is NOT the case.

    So basically, I see NO incentive to use a 64-bit Win7 on a system with 3 or 4 GB of RAM — which is what most people buy nowadays. 32-bit should still be OK… except that the morons OEM-install the 64-bit Win7 HP.

  4. alexd

    Can someone explain to me why Windows Server 2003/2008 Enterprise and Datacenter Editions x86 suport up to 64 GB of memory? http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366778(v=vs.85).aspx

  5. Jon

    Nice application, just found out both my pc and laptop are 64 bit compatible.. never knew that till now. I feel a weekend project coming up.

  6. Joanne

    I love my 64 bit but hate the issues with Outlook 2010….. Google calendar sync for one is an issue that they have not been able to solve at this point…. amoung others.
    However, I will do without these for all the speed!!!

  7. PhDrSeuss

    i dont know what this computer can and cannot hold. i am just gettin 2 know it still dont know much bout it). 1 thing 4 sure …its a windows.

  8. k

    @Alex’s it can but its a bodge. Only 4gb useable at any time out of the 64gb.

    About x64 drivers. I remember reading that Ms said if a manufacturer wants to put a ready for win7 sticker on their equipment. It must have x64 drivers now.

  9. Brad

    The main reason I chose a Win7 x64 machine was so I could run SolidWorks without being limited to only 3GB of RAM. The downfall with running x64 came when I had to install AutoCAD. We’re still running CAD 2008 due to a third party add-on that only works on x32 bit AutoCAD 2008. CAD’s installer would detect what version you are running (x32/x64) and install what it feels is the correct version. Thanks to a ‘fix’ I found, I managed to trick the installer into installing the x32 version.

    I was able to install the 32bit CAD in XP Mode, but there were network issues at work since the ‘xp mode’ network id is different than my Win7 ID.

  10. PhDrSeuss

    what if i have a windows vista ultimate service pack 2? does it matter?

  11. Woot

    Been running Win7 x64 for a while now (after switching from good old WinXP. Yeah, totally ignored Vista.) and I’m really happy about it. No crashes, no slow-downs, nothing weird at all.

    I love it.

  12. 01NB

    @ Beranger: Office 2010 can be installed in either 32 or 64 bit. Same with Photoshop.

  13. www.hugfails.com

    @alexd

    some intel CPUs can use PAE. its kinda silly – as of today’s hardware- because your robbing a percentage (about 6%) of your obviously outdated proc. you buy a board that addresses more than 4 gigs ram, who knows what your licensing for MSServer costs ,you buy the 4 gigs of ram but you wanna go cheap on a 32 bit single core cpu? linux kernel 2.4.x and greater could go through the 4 gig wall too. Theres other limitations as well. http://www.spack.org/wiki/LinuxRamLimits

  14. Tony

    I’ve had two problems since moving to WIN7-64… I had a similar Canon Printer/Scanner/Copier issue I couldn’t resolve, and I tried about 5 different USB Wireless receivers to no avail. That was right when I upgraded. I’m giving third parties another year before I try again.

    Other than that the WIN7 system has been awesome. I have recorded a video in Sony Vegas, edited photos, opened Quickbooks, and had a few browsers open with no slow-down. Very nice.

  15. Nice

    Thanks for that application I never knew my processor was 64-bit. My old scanner doesn’t even have drivers for 32-bit win7 so I might just upgrade.

  16. Jason Fitzpatrick

    @J: 64-bit before Windows 7 was a nightmare all around. Windows had enough usability issues in prior versions without the headache of poor driver support.

    @Hatryst: You could certainly do a dual-boot install if you really wanted to put the same hardware through the paces. Given how stable Windows 7 64-bit is though (and assuming you’ve got a nice chunk of memory on the machine) I think you’ll quickly forget all about 32-bit.

    @Beranger: This is true, if you want more memory allocated per individual process you’ll need optimized applications. Merely having access to a general pool of memory that pushes 8GB and beyond however is not to be undervalued. Take for instance, the splattering of Chrome instances I have open right now…. I’m a sloppy tab closer (because having a huge amount of ram allows me to be!). I have over 50 tabs open in Chrome (all separate Chrome processes), Photoshop, Firefox (12-15 tabs there), TweetDeck, Acrobat, and at least two dozen minor programs like image viewers, IM clients, etc. None of these individual applications is using more than 2GB of RAM but collectively they’re using way more memory that a 32-bit OS could address.

    On a related note: Photoshop comes as a universal app and, at least in CS4, installed both the 32-bit and 64-bit app. Office offers the same kind dual-installer only you pick which one you want during the installation process. 64-bit applications are all around you, you’re just not seeing them because you don’t want them.

    @Alexd: PAE (Physical Address Extension). It’s a feature that allows 32-bit/x86 processors to access larger physical address space. Compared to native 64-bit support it’s a poor work around. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Address_Extension I opted not to delve into it within the body of this article because it’s not particularly relevant to a modern user (although perhaps it merits a nod in the history section!)

    @PhDrSeuss: Matter in what context? You can have Vista Ultimate on both a 32-bit and 64-bit architecture. If you’re asking if you can run Windows 7 64-bit (or any 64-bit OS for that matter), you’ll have to run the application highlighted above to see if your processor supports 64-bit register spaces.

    @Woot: I totally ignored Vista too. I went from XP to Windows 7 which was, by any measure, like going from the 17th century to the 20th.

  17. Enrique

    ……..You can’t find 32-bit drivers for older but critical devices on your system. This one is a serious deal killer…… or should said You can’t find 64-bit drivers for older but critical devices on your system. This one is a serious deal killer……

  18. Gouthaman Karunakaran

    I have a Core i5 laptop with 3GB RAM running 32-bit Windows 7 Ultimate. I’m pretty happy with the performance and currently not contemplating a RAM upgrade. Will it make sense to move on to 64-bit now or can I just stay with 32-bit.

    I don’t have legacy apps or anything since all I need is Google Chrome.

  19. YJ1H

    1. Windows XP x64 came out in 2005 (not 2001)… I bought it… had no issues until Apple actually disabled sycing with iPods on 64 bit machines after an update.

    2. While a 32bit OS can see up to 4GB of RAM, due to the system also having to deal with virtual memory and keeping track of memory on components like your graphics card, only ~3.2GB is usable by the Operating system.

    3. The Nintendo 64 did not have a 64-bit CPU (it had 32 registers) it only had a 64bit memory bus…

    4. Due to the flexibility of the Unix 64bit / 32bit architecture, a 32bit Unix kernel could handle 64bit ” kernel modules / “drivers” and 64bit applications and a 64bit is backwards compatible with the 32bit counterparts as well… This is a stark contrast to Windows and Linux systems. OS X did not need to have a 64bit kernel running to take advantage of 64bit apps and “drivers”.

  20. dr Neutron

    Article is disingenuous. To run Win 7(64 bit) you always need more memory than win XP (32 bit). This is a MicroSoft sock puppet article. How is win 7 more efficient than win Xp? What? It gives the DRAM a massage. People if you need more memory you are less efficient. Next I’ll hear that a Maserati is more efficient than a Volkswagen Bug.

  21. Peter Quiring

    Corrections:

    Nintendo 64 is actually two 32bit CPUs. It’s not true 64bit, it’s a marketing scam. See wikipedia.

    64bit code actually runs 20% slower than 32bit code due to increase in size of EXE but the advantage is you gain access to more than 4GB of RAM (it’s a trade off). So unless you have 8+ GBs of RAM (and use it) you really should stick with 32bit. 3 GBs is enough for the average user.

    Someone asked why some OSes (Windows Server) can use more than 4GB RAM on 32bit systems. That’s because they use PAE (Physical Address Extension) See Wikipedia on that too.

    Get your facts straight!!!

  22. Sam

    Jason,

    one mistake in this below line

    “You can’t find 32-bit drivers for older but critical devices on your system. This one is a serious deal killer”

    it should read

    You can’t find 64-bit drivers for older but critical devices on your system. This one is a serious deal killer

    Thanks
    Sam

  23. Gary Larivee

    Bought a new Toshiba laptop with windows 64 bit. Seems to work faster so I upgraded my desktop to Home Premium. Only one problem. I am still using a DOS program for my books. Probably more by good luck than good management I was able to reload XP on my second drive. Tricky to start but better than $400 to upgrade accounting program to windows version.

  24. Paul

    To me, using Windows 7 64 bit is the ONLY choice for Windows.

    I used to be a die hard XP user, but it has one major fatal flaw that 64bit windows fixes.
    It’s almost impossible to adequately protect Windows XP from rootkits. If your computer has a serious rootkit like aleureon, you are in for a crapload of trouble. I don’t care if you use MBAM, Antivirus, and spyware protection, if you are infected with a new rootkit, you will never know about it on XP. That is a Fatal flaw and the truth is that with the amount of malware lurking on torrents, it’s really, really easy to get one.

    Windows 7 64 bit with patchguard is practically immune to rootkits. For me, that alone is the BEST reason to upgrade to 64 bit. At least with Windows 7 64 bit, my antivirus and spyware detection has a chance to work properly. On Windows XP, it wouldn’t even see it if a rootkit is installed.

    It’s not any faster than XP for sure, especially after it’s tweaked the way I had it. After some time though, I’ve grown to like Windows 7 64 bit. I had to fix some major performance issues with it. i.e. shadow volume copies causing major freezes, small file caches, and a bunch of driver issues, but once it’s working, it’s very, very nice to have a laptop with 16 gigs of ram. :)

  25. Doug Harding

    I have a Win7 64bit Sony. Updated to Office2010, chose the 64 bit version. Had to switch to Office2010 32bit version. Seems Office2010 64 bit is not compatible with MS Mobile Device Center Activesync used to sync my Windows phone, and MS has no intentions of making it compatible.

  26. Paul

    Oh, and for those people that are thinking about running Windows 7 64 bit on a low memory system, I would recommend turning off the superfetch service and turning off aero /switching to a basic theme. Both of these consume ridiculous amounts of ram for the minimal functionality it provides. If you do have the ram though, it is nice. :)

  27. JP

    In installed XP64 to my wife’s cad workstation .. back then .. and her CAD forever lost some problems (Especially the ones where after long drawing session on XP32 nothing worked in the end) .. and we also found that printing from her CAD gained stability. She merrily ran XP64 until few months ago when we got her new PC with Win764 – CAD in question is ARCHICAD (Always the latest version), One has to keep in mind that ARCHICAD supported XP64 at that time.. The only problem was with WIBU key.. But even that worked after 4th re-installation.

  28. m0hamed

    well its not possible in my country. you would be hard pressed to find a ram stick larger than 2gb so probably you can have a max of 4-6 gb of ram and that is the most important incentive for 64bit

  29. Bob Steinhardt

    Got error messages today on 64 bit Win 7 professional:

    -Your speech recognition won’t start

    -Win 7 is not genuine

    Had to reboot several times.

    Can’t MicroSoft stop wasting my time?

  30. Dulwichdik

    If you really want to use more ram with 32bit programs running on a 64bit machine (WoW64) Turn off the page file and stop windoze swapping in and out of the hard drive in the virtual memory. You’ll need at least 8 gigs and a watchful eye on your system. if you had this set up on a ssd drive then it will certainly fly!!

  31. Mike

    What would really be good would be a universal converter that would do all the bit shifting so that 64 bit users could still use their older software. Dare I hope that we could one that would let us still play DOOM or Quake?

  32. MikeT

    @ Peter Quiring> Where did you read that a larger executable file makes a program run slower. The actual code as well as various compiler optimizations will determine the speed at which a program will run. An executable optimized for speed will often be larger than one not optimized in such a way. So it may be that 64bit code runs slower than 32 bit code (although your post is the first time I have seen that said as a blanket, all inclusive statement), it certainly is not because of the size of the executable.

    (exclamation points omited for tact reasons).

    @ dr Neutron> Using your line of thinking, we could go one step further and say that if you need a multi-tasking OS you are being less efficient. Run one program at a time until you are finished, then start your next program. We could all have kept our 286 computers with Dos 6 and 640K Ram.

    Just had to comment cuz I tire of doomsayers and complainers.

  33. Doug H.

    I have been working on 64 bit systems since 1995. The IBM AS/400 system went from CICS 48 bit processors to RISC PowerPC 64 bit processors then. Not only the hardware, but the OS and ALL application code was 64 bit. 64 bit allows for considerable more bandwidth through the system and as mentioned above much higher addressing schemes. Today the follow on successor in this line of systems the Power i is running some 128 bit functionality. The IBM Power systems are what the Watson, Jeopardy platform is. Although the Watson system was highly optimized it is the same system IBM supports for general businesses applications. So 64 bit is not magical, not even new, and back 16 years ago the AS/400 was not a Super Computer as implied above when mentioning the Cray.

  34. Eileen

    Whew, I am a little nervous about treading in this space where everyone’s so clued up technically! :-) So please excuse this old lady’s ignorance..
    I have a new computer running Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit and MS Office 2010 64 bit. My biggest frustration is that my (South African) version of QuickBooks 2010 cannot ‘see’ Office and I therefore cannot send PDF docs via email straight out of QB. Have to save doc as PDF first and then attach to an email. Anyone with any solution?
    QB South Africa eventually conceded after argument that they do not support 64 bit Office.
    The bright spark I was dealing with also said at the time that Office did not come in 64 bit version!
    She has since changed her mind!!

  35. Akhil pm

    I tried a new version of eclipse(eclipse 6.5) on my 32 bit win7 but it failed to work.But when i installed it on a 64 bit version of win7 on my friend’s laptop it runs smoothly.More and more important softwares are now switching to the 64bit version.

  36. bassmanwa

    I am running win7 64 bit and find it really great as you say miss some 32 bit progs especially my satnav which is brand new but does not have a 34 bit driver and my old hand held palm zire31, but have upgraded my software to professional and now have xp mode on a virtual computer and am able to use these devices again in that area, pretty neat

  37. Ronald

    For ancient scanners try VueScan: http://www.hamrick.com/vuescan/vuescan.htm#supported before buying a new one …

  38. diablo3dfx

    The only thing keeping me from installing 7 64bit is my TV tuner. I have a Hauppauge PVR 500 and apparently it has an issue with 64bit Windows and having 4 or more Gigs of RAM. I’m still rocking a Q6600 CPU on a 680i SLI board, so an upgrade may be in my not too distant future. At that point I’ll get a Hauppauge HVR 2250 or whatever the current decent to high end tuner card may be for my Media Center needs.

  39. Jack

    I’ve been running Win7 64-bit for over a year and it is the best computing experience I’ve ever had. My first PC was a Sperry Model 25 with 256 K RAM and a green screen monitor so I’ve used about everything out there. When I retired in Jan 2010, I bought a Dell I1764 and it has been a dream. Yes, I did have to upgrade Office, Quicken, and some other apps, and my address book from 1996 no longer worked :-) but the speed and efficiency of this laptop has been great! I gave my HP Pavilion with 32-bit Vista to my daughter because it was too slow. Win7 64-bit has been great for me.

  40. indianacarnie

    Love my 64 bit machine! Haven’t used 32 since xp and no…. I didn’t skip Vista. Have only found one very minor program that would not work for me. I don’t even remember what it was to tell you the truth. Win7 + 64 bits = bliss!

  41. Peter Quiring

    MikeT> Well, it has to do with the fact that generated 64bit code is slightly larger than the same code in 32bit which causes more cache misses. I’ve heard of tests done to prove this. I’ll try and do my own tests to verify this. But it just makes sense to me, I’m a programmer.

    Linux is a better choice over windows because it supports PAE. Microsoft can’t support PAE too much because of bad driver support. So with Linux you get up to 256 TB RAM and 32bit performance. I know it sounds strange but that’s what I’ve heard.

    Plus with 64bit Windows you basically have two sets of files in memory (32bit and 64bit) which is an added drag on the system.

  42. Manc

    Thanks for the great article.

    I hit the last problem on the list – got a user with a new iMac, 8GB RAM running Win7 on VM Fusion. Tried 64-bit but her dated Adobe Acrobat Pro & associated plugins just wouldn’t play nice with it so had to settle for 32-bit Windows 7 :(

  43. Yull

    For my home desktop PC a 64 bit OS was a choice since 2006 when I started to use XP 64 bit. Except some minor disavantages (e.g. lack of drivers for a IrDA dongle) it works very well.

    My notebook (Asus UL20A) has preinstalled Windows 7 64 bit, until now I have no complaints. Even Ubuntu Desktop 64 bit (installed via Wubi) performs excellent.

  44. Nancy

    I use an expensive machine embroidery software program to create designs. i belong to an online worldwide forum where we discuss this. The software program blacks out at certain points if you are running the 64 bit version of windows. It does this for everyone and the company is working on new software is going to cost – probably several hundred dollars.

    I also had to dump MS Office 64 bit that I had running on my Win 7 64 bit machine due to issues between Intuit (Quicken/Turbo Tax) and Office. Reloading it as Office 32 bit has solved the issue.

  45. Robert in Oregon

    The Sony VGX-XL1, XL2 and XL3 ‘Digital Living Systems’ use a software driven disk-eject for the slot-style optical drives. All versions shipped with either Windows XP 32-bit or Windows Vista 32-bit. The systems will all upgrade nicely to Windows 7 64-bit, with only one exception. Sony, for whatever reason has not written a 64-bit software fix for the optical drive disk-eject. The only way therefore to eject a disk is with the mouse; the physical eject button on the front of the PC is not functional. Tens of thousands of these XL* systems are in use. Sony needs to address this issue.

  46. Kevalin

    I am dual-booting 64 and 32-bit Windows 7 on my Gateway P-7805u FX, and I can tell you, the difference between the two, both in speed and smoothness, is considerable, despite some fairly consistent bugs in both versions. I’d run 64-bit exclusively, but I have a couple of programs that simply refuse to run that side, but which I must be able to use.

  47. Dave

    Hi, I am still testing a new win7 64bit at work, and only have one issue. A CNC machine we have uses a software program for writing the CNC code. The software uses a dongle on the parallel port. The software will in no way run on 64bit. I loaded it in xpmode and it loads but microsoft in its infinite wisdom did not include a parallel port in virtual mode. Therefore, even though the software is loaded, the software cannot see the dongle attached to the parallel port, so the software will not run at all. The manufacturer from Italy says the software will not run in 64bit, so do not even try. So much for getting out there and programming for the future, huh. If anyone has a fix for this issue, I would really like to put this all behind me. Thanks,

  48. OMAR MEXICO

    Excelent info! *****

  49. OMAR MEXICO

    Magnífica información.
    Gracias

  50. Clint

    64 bit is more trouble than it’s worth at this point in time.

    I’ve NEVER used more than 4 GB of memory and I have very very few 64 bit programs.

    On the downside I seem to run into the “won’t work or works poorly with 64 bit” almost every day.

    For instance I just bought an external hard drive enclosure to use with a spare 500GB HD..

    but… guess what, you cannot transfer large files (1 + gb) on it with 64 bit systems. I can’t even boot up puppy and use the da#$% external drive.

    I am so sick of this crap. I strongly advise against 64 bit until it actually works.

  51. Elie

    A great article ! Thanks HTG

  52. Culebras

    I have Windows 7 64 bits running in my laptop and I found the same problem you mention in the text: drivers for an old Acer Scan. The solution was Vuescan, a software that have emulations for many old scanners. Maybe you can rebring to life your old Canon Scanner.

  53. Howdoyoudo

    Hello, I have a system with 4gb of ram. My motherboard supports up to 4gb ram. I am planning to get a GPU with 1gb memory. Will my 32bit system be able to address both of the memory?

  54. karthick

    Hi……… Is there is the difference between play Games in 32 bit and 64 bit……….. I need the difference for that……….. Ur classification was really good… thanks for that… but reply for my questions pls…….

  55. pcunite

    @Dave
    Try using a USB to parrell convertor and see if the CNC software will work with it.

  56. DR.

    what if you have both 32 & 64 bit with vista home premium? Is that normal? 4 RAM. Also with the vista SP2 how do I download for both? Thnaks, The Doc.

  57. devilbymoonlight

    hmmm I remember a wonderful machine many years ago…. the early ones had a 16 bit data bus a 24 bit address bus but the cpu’s registers were all 32 bit, ( motorola 68000 @ 7.14mhz ) but the machine was classed as a 16 bit machine… even though all 16 registers, thats 8 data registers and 8 address registers were 32 bits wide, I often wonder if the pc would have ever made it into our homes if the Amiga was still here… lol

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