Is 128-bit Windows a reality or just a great story?

Word is, Microsoft is planning 128-bit versions of Windows 8 and 9, but don't get your hopes up.

News of a leak about Microsoft’s Windows 8 sure has stirred something over the Internet. Some say Windows 8 won't happen until Windows 7 is perfected and others say that Microsoft has already begun recruiting employees to help build Windows 8.

It would make sense that planning, preparation and recruiting would be underway if Microsoft plans to keep the planned 2012 release date for general availability of a major release. But really the most controversial news came from a Linked-in post by a Microsoft employee who claims that Windows 8 (maybe) and Windows 9 (definitely) would offer 128-bit versions of the OS.

When I read that note my first reaction was, "YES!" I love the idea of speeding up the operating system and allowing for more RAM, more processing power…MORE…MORE…MORE! But before I get too excited about this idea, I decided to do some investigating.

While theoretically a 128-bit Windows version would be almost limitless in its capacity for handling CPU cores and RAM, that’s one of the issues I came across in my research. It seems that a 128-bit OS would be able to handle memory addressing up to 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 bytes or 281,474,976,710,656 yobibytes. I am not even sure what that is, but I do know that it is more memory than all the data that is currently stored on the entire earth. That is an insane amount of potential addressable memory and while I could possibly see server-side uses for all that power (well, come to think of it, no I can't), seriously, what would you do with all of that on a desktop?

Not to be missed is the fact that 64-bit systems have really yet to take hold in the Windows world, except for on the server side of things. True, Microsoft has pushed Exchange Server 2007 and Office Communications Server 2007 R2 as 64-bit only architectures, Windows 7 is still offered as 32-bit. I have heard that Windows 7 will be the last 32-bit Windows and personally I hope that’s true. With the 4GB limit of addressable RAM and the bottleneck that 32-bit presents, it is time to say goodbye already. When we moved from 16-bit to 32-bit there was not this much of a pull to keep the old 16-bit architecture. It is time to embrace 64-bit which has been available since Windows XP.

Is 128-bit Windows science or science fiction? I’m not sure, although I do know that we have 64-bit Windows versions available now and I would love to see it widely adopted. I think laptops and desktops with 6 – 12GB of RAM are awesome and with the coming of better multi-core CPU’s, it gets even better. My thought is, 128-bit Windows is …NICE…however, I hope Windows 8 is more innovative with the user experience. What do you think about 128-bit Windows or even adopting 64-bit Windows. Let me know.

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