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Windows 7: 32 bit or 64 bit OS?


29 Jul 2009   #1

Windows 7 x64 RC1, Vista Ultimate, XP Pro
 
 
32 bit or 64 bit OS?

What are the Pros and Cons of a 32 vs. 64 bit OS? It's my understanding that nothing works on a 64 bit OS which will of course use the 64 bit registers of your system. The software just isn't developed for the 64 or is there something I'm missing. I find it hard that the 64 is backwards compatible with the 32 but who knows and that's why I'm asking?


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29 Jul 2009   #2

win7rc
 
 
Win7

I installed 64-bit Windows 7 and loaded a fair amount of software (including shhhh--Open Source) It all runs, very well.
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29 Jul 2009   #3

64-bit Windows 8.1 Pro
 
 

I think you will be surprised at tghe number of 32bit programs that DO run on a 64bit system. I would go for it if given the chance!!
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29 Jul 2009   #4

 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by golden039 View Post
What are the Pros and Cons of a 32 vs. 64 bit OS? It's my understanding that nothing works on a 64 bit OS
You may hear that but it just is not true. I used the 64 bit Windows XP for about three years. What was missing was hardware drivers compatible with a 64 bit OS. Also there was very little in the way multi-media software for 64 bit, but most other 32 bit software would run in 64 no prob.

Quote:
The software just isn't developed for the 64 or is there something I'm missing.
Because of Vista x64, 7 is well supported by 64 bit drivers and software and more software becomes available every day. There are some hold-outs like Adobe; to view flash in websites you must run a 32 bit browser in your 64 bit OS (because Adobe refuses to support 64 bit), but that has not been a problem.

To me, it is the "chicken or the egg" issue. Chickens come from eggs, but eggs come form chickens so which came first? If no one buys 64 bit until software catches up to the technology, then no one will develop software because no one has bought 64 bit hardware.

That said, expect most new computer hardware sold to be 64 bit, and with time the software will catch up. If you already have 64 bit hardware and OS, then you can take advantage of the advances as they arrive. Do you have anything (major) to lose by going 64?
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29 Jul 2009   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I was hesitant to move to 64-bit as well, but wanted more than 4GB of RAM support for virtual machines.

So, I downloaded the Windows 7 64-bit RC1 release that is being given away by Microsoft and I loaded it to a spare hard drive and tested everything that I use. Everything worked just fine, no issues whatsoever.

Therefore, I have already purchased a copy of Vista 64-bit with a free upgrade to Windows 7 64-bit when it comes out.
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29 Jul 2009   #6

Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1
 
 

If you have the hardware for it, then by all means jump into 64-bit. The VAST majority of 32-bit applications run seamlessly in Vista x64 and 7 x64. You'll hit a snag with 32-bit applications that have 16-bit installers (as anything 16-bit will not work in a 64-bit environment), but those are few and far between these days. You'll also see performance improvements when using 64-bit applications, of which more and more are being developed.
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29 Jul 2009   #7
Lee

Win 7 Pro x64, VM Win XP, Win7 Pro Sandbox, Kubuntu 11
 
 

64 bit is probably your best bet, and since you have indicated the use of a VM than anything (legacy programs) can be used in the VM. With the VM you can run just about anything you want even Hackintosh (if you can get it to work). So, you have the right idea; go for it, you won't be sorry.
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29 Jul 2009   #8

Windows 7 Pro (MSDN)
 
 

Did you read the FAQ?

Quote:
9. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the x86-64 version?
The good:
* Support for more than 3 GB of RAM (with proper motherboard support; some older chipsets, like the Intel 945GM, do not allow the addressing of all 4 GB, even if your OS supports addressing all 4GB)
* Potentially faster execution resulting from the ability to operate on larger chunks of data and the addition of new registers (x86-32 being a register-starved architecture, this helps). This speed up requires that the program be compiled natively for x86-64, and the actual gain will vary from program to program.
* Future-proof. 32-bit will eventually die out one day. Could be many, many years down the road, though.
* Slightly more secure than the 32-bit version.
The bad:
* x86-64 requires more memory (and disk space) because the code is inherently larger, and because Windows has to also load the Wow64 libraries into memory (the stuff needed for backwards compat with 32-bit programs) (and keeping an extra set of DLLs around for 32-bit programs will eat up more disk space).
* All drivers must be signed. This is good (for security) but also bad (for small custom software that can't afford driver signing).
The ugly:
* You have to make sure that you have 64-bit drivers. Some manufacturers, such as Dell, haven't released 64-bit drivers for some of their older hardware.
* 32-bit shell extensions won't work.
* 16-bit programs don't work (not really a limitation of Windows, but of how AMD designed x86-64).
Basically, it comes down to weighing the pros and cons, and the decision will vary from person to person based on their circumstances. The one to really focus on is memory. 64-bit will quite a bit more memory. If you have only 1GB, then, as a percentage of your total RAM, the extra memory usage from 64-bit is too high, and your performance will almost certainly suffer (definitely not worth it). But at 4GB, the memory you gain from being able to address beyond 3.5GB will outweigh any extra memory cost (definitely worth it). And at 2GB or 3GB, there is still the same extra memory usage, but as a percentage of the total, it won't be as bad (might be worth it). You should also audit your system and make sure that there are 64-bit drivers for everything in the device manager because that can be a deal breaker. And if there is a 32-bit shell extension that you can't live without, that can be a deal breaker, too.


I have a system with 3GB of RAM that I'm going to keep using 32-bit on because of the driver problem (my TV tuner card is old and there are only 32-bit drivers for it) and the shell extension problem (PicaView32 was discontinued about a decade ago, and it's only 32-bit). So even if you've got the RAM to make 64-bit worth the while, you should still check to make sure that there isn't a dealbreaker.
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30 Jul 2009   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lee View Post
With the VM you can run just about anything you want even Hackintosh (if you can get it to work). So, you have the right idea; go for it, you won't be sorry.
While I have gotten OSX to run under VMWare the performance has been absolutely abysmal.

I just got some hardware to run a "hackintosh", but I plan to do so with an EFI-X USB dongle and a legal copy of OSX.
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30 Jul 2009   #10
Microsoft MVP

 
 

The built in XP VM is (IMO) much better than previous versions - and the performance is acceptable to me. To use it you'll have to ensure that your processor is capable of supporting it (hardware virtualization).

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor: Download details: Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Beta
Gibson's CPU Test: GRC*|*SecurAble: Determine Processor Security Features*|**
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 32 bit or 64 bit OS?




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