The October 22nd, WINDOWS 7, release date has come and gone. Now a lot of us are getting ready to purchase and install the latest operating system from Microsoft. Unlike previous years, there is an additional decision that needs to be made. Are you going 32 bit or 64 bit?
If your processor is more than a few years old the decision may already be made for you. It’s possible your hardware is not 64 bit compatible, but if you have a relatively new system it’s going to be your choice.
WHAT IS IT?
The term 32 bit and 64 bit architecture refers to the way your systems processor (CPU) uses or addresses memory. Everyone knows how important memory is to their system. 32 bit systems, which are what most people are using now, can only use between 3.4 GBs to 4.0 GBs of memory. 64 bit architecture can take advantage of much more memory than this. I’m running 6 gigs in the system I just built and depending on which Windows 7 64 bit version you choose, you will be able to take advantage of up to 192 GBs of System Memory. Below I’ve listed the amounts of memory each can handle.
• Starter: 8GB
• Home Basic: 8GB
• Home Premium: 16GB
• Professional: 192GB
• Enterprise: 192GB
• Ultimate: 192GB
IS MY SYSTEM 64 BIT COMPATIBLE?
Earlier I mentioned that your hardware may not be 64 bit compatible. Confirm that your processor is 64 bit compatible by following the path below.
1. Click: Start/Control Panel/System or System Maintenance/Performance Information and Tools/View and Print Details.
2. In the System section under 64 Bit Capable you can see if your system is 64 Bit capable.
Alternately you may want to download and run the SIW application which will tell you the same thing. It’s listed under: Hardware/CPU/the very first listing under Number of Processors. You will also want to be sure to uncheck the Toolbar option.
WILL MY PROGRAMS WORK?
Most of your programs will work even though they may have been designed for 32 bit systems. There will however be some exceptions. I haven’t had the experience myself but I read reports of some antivirus programs not being compatible and possibly some drivers, especially printer drivers.
In the past 64 bit drivers have been the hardest hurdle to overcome. This time however it seems like that isn’t going to be a big problem. I’ve installed Windows 7 on everything from Ultimate Gaming rigs to older laptops and desktops. I’ve not had a single driver issue. I’m even using an old HP all-in-one 750 xi printer. I’m sure it’s at least 5 years old and it’s working fine.
If you want to check some of your software first, Microsoft has provided a Compatibility Center . The center was originally developed for Vista and to be honest looks like it’s been forgotten.
A better options may be within your installed copy of Windows 7. Check out this Microsoft Tutorial for making older programs run in your version of Windows.
So where’s the dilemma? Looks like a slam dunk for the choosing the 64bit flavor of your favorite Windows 7, right?
WHAT WILL I REALLY GAIN?
Speed, speed, and more speed. The ability to do more and do it better. The last couple of years when reading blurbs extolling the use of 64 bit systems, it was always the same. There was mention of increased audio and video encoding followed by the perfunctory mention of increased power for CAD and engineering programs.
Now it’s different. Everything is in place; hardware, operating systems, drivers, and software. We’re poised for the switch that will force developers to capitalize on the power that’s been available for years. Finally it looks like the popularity of Windows 7 64 bit, along with it’s proven Compatibility Mode, will be just enough to finally get us where we need to be.
IS THERE A DOWN SIDE?
If there is a downside, it’s that 64 bit data occupies more space than 32 bit data. This in turn increases the memory requirements. Is that a downside? No, not really, considering the low cost of memory and the increased performance.
Game manufacturers should be some of the first to get off their duffs, so expect to see some revolutionary changes in speed, detail and much more realistic environments. Dark dreary backgrounds have been a pet peeve since I bought my first PC game years back. No more excuses and empty hype. Bring on the sun. Get that dead dragon pumping blood in the light of day. Explode those grenades out in the bright sun with some beautiful trees in the background.
I’m also expecting an explosion from the Video presentation and editing side of things. The past couple of years has seen YouTube rocket to 1 billion daily uses and the trend has been to bigger and better clips. I even increased my IE cache size to better handle some of them. I expect changes and improvements to be fast coming.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Buy Windows 7 64 bit of course. If you didn’t preorder, check the news paper for Weekend Sales. Then go to your favorite Online store and check their Specials. There are some excellent prices on new Windows 7 laptops and desktops.
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