Windows 7 - Will It Turn The Tide To 64-bit?

One of the questions all of us face when considering deployment of Windows 7 is whether to go 32- or 64-bit. Vista's 64-bit support hasn't turned the tide from 32- to 64-bit but Windows 7 might. DRAM memory is pretty inexpensive so it's not unreasonable to consider having 4GB of RAM in your computer which would make Windows 7 64-bit very happy.

You'll of course need to have a 64-bit compatible CPU, such as the Dual Core 2 systems commonplace on computers purchased these days. 4GB is the minimum recommended memory for a Windows 64-bit system but running a 64-bit OS means you can actually use all of that 4GB of memory. (32-bit Windows Vista is effectively limited to using round 3.581GB as it allocates memory for PCI addresses, video cards, the PCI Express bus, system BIOs and other low level system resources. This varies depending on your system configuration.).

64-bit Windows systems can take advantage of up to 128GB of memory and beyond.

Microsoft has a series of FAQ questions on its Windows help site to weight the pros and cons.  (The FAQ is for Vista but it still applies to Windows 7). The biggest issue with moving to 64-bit Windows has been and still may be 64-bit compatible drivers. Windows 7 will benefit from the fact that Vista certainly helped push driver manufacturers to create Windows compatible 64-bit drivers. Sufficient memory and driver support will likely be the two biggest factors in considering going to 64-bit Windows 7 but we'll also be deploying 32-bit Windows 7 on many existing computers that have neither sufficient memory nor 64-bit CPUs.

The real answer to the 64-bit question is, yes... if we go 64-bit it really means we'll be deploying both 64- and 32-bit Windows 7 systems.

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