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Sales are perking up for 64-bit after years of dominance by 32-bit OS's

The hottest buzz in the tech industry in 2003 was 64-bit hardware and operating systems. That year the industry seemed on the verge of a computer revolution.  Then AMD CEO Hector Ruiz stated, "Our industry, right now, is hungry for another round of innovation."

AMD released its first 64-bit processors that year.  While sales were decent, there was no consumer 64-bit operating system to take advantage of the hardware.  Then finally in 2005, Microsoft released Windows XP in 64-bit form.  Yet again the 64-bit industry seemed set to explode.

The release was met with much criticism, though.  Part of the problem was necessity -- even in 2005 the average user did not need more than 2 GB, in most circumstances.  Another major hitch was driver support.  All drivers had to be rewritten to work with the new width.

Despite these difficulties, three years later, for the first time, the 64-bit industry is at last healthy and growing.  With virtually all new processors from Intel and AMD supporting 64-bit, 64-bit OS's are flourishing as well. 

In a recent blog, Microsoft's Chris Flores reported that 20 percent of new Windows systems connecting to Windows Update were 64-bit.  This is up from a mere 3 percent in March.  He stated, "Put more simply, usage of 64-bit Windows Vista is growing much more rapidly than 32-bit.  Based on current trends, this growth will accelerate as the retail channel shifts to supplying a rapidly increasing assortment of 64-bit desktops and laptops."

Retailers such as Best Buy and Circuit City are also catching on to the trend, offering largely 64-bit OS-equipped machines for their most heavily advertised models.  Many manufacturers are also throwing in their support; Gateway will be transitioning its entire desktop line to 64-bit in time for the back-to-school shopping season.  To put this in perspective, in its first quarter, only 5 percent of Gateway's notebooks and desktops were 64-bit.  In its third quarter, a whopping 95 percent of desktops will be 64-bit and 30 percent of notebooks will be.

Aside from the increased memory, one other possible cause for adoption is the increased availability of software that takes advantage of the increased capacity.  Adobe's various graphical design product lines have been revamped for 64-bit.  Another drive may be gaming, which is typically memory hungry. "64-bit versions of Windows will begin to find their way into high-end gaming notebooks, which increasingly are being used as high-end notebook workstations as opposed to strictly gaming systems," said IDC analyst Richard Shim.

Finally, it may just be inevitability that is helping 64-bit.  While the upgrade will only provide subtle benefits to the majority of users, even power users, it is an iterative advance.  And like most advances, after a period of reticence, people are finally warming up to it.

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RE: What?
By FITCamaro on 8/4/2008 10:21:13 AM , Rating: 3
I'm running Vista Business x64 for my gaming system. I'd recommend it over Home Premium if you don't need Media Center. You get the built-in backup tool with it that works very well.

Not having any issues so far.

RE: What?
By Locutus465 on 8/4/2008 10:41:32 AM , Rating: 3
Just go Ultimate if you can swing it.... I use that on both my laptop and desktop and frankly couldn't imagin going with a less feature rich version of the OS :)

RE: What?
By FITCamaro on 8/4/2008 12:43:35 PM , Rating: 2
I just don't need a lot of the features. I don't use Media Center.

RE: What?
By AnnihilatorX on 8/4/2008 1:14:02 PM , Rating: 2
I am running business Vista x64 too and I am a home user. The shadow copy and backup tool are certainly great features. I couldn't care less about Media Centre, and the ripped off ultimate extras.

However you do lose native DVD decode in Vista business and you'd need to install 3rd party DVD codec.

RE: What?
By FITCamaro on 8/4/2008 1:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
I don't watch DVDs on my computer so its not an issue for me.

RE: What?
By kmmatney on 8/5/2008 1:19:39 AM , Rating: 3
VLC player - problem solved (assuming it works in 64-bit...)

RE: What?
By George Powell on 8/5/2008 1:31:47 AM , Rating: 2
Works fine.

RE: What?
By Polynikes on 8/4/2008 2:24:43 PM , Rating: 1
I'd rather save a lot of money on the OS and manually install a codec. :)

RE: What?
By Locutus465 on 8/5/2008 12:38:26 AM , Rating: 2
lol well I guess it's a bit easy for me to say since I got it all from my MSDN anyway... However the OEM option for Vista Ult does exist and Windows 7 should be out soon enough that you don't need to worry about x-fer issues.

There are some Ult. features I enjoy, for instance personally I appriciate the blending of home prem and business since I need the business tools for work and personally love playing around with MC... I also like the extra content though I wish there was move of it... Bit locker is cool and yeah, I do like holdem poker lol.

Personal preference, I can see why someone might make the chocies you made... But there are other options, like I said if it's not an economic burden then Vista Ult really is the best experience over all.

RE: What?
By Penti on 8/6/2008 12:58:10 AM , Rating: 3
If you buy your computer in parts (and play systembuilder) you probably get PowerDVD bundled with your retail graphics card box anyways. If you buy OEM-hardware you can always buy a dvd decoder for Vista that works with WMP for 15 bucks.

RE: What?
By schnazzer on 8/4/2008 1:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
Having built my system, I purchased and OEM copy of Vista Ultimate and I'm currently running it 64bit. The OEM copy was pretty cheap in comparison to the retail version. Only downside is its locked to one computer but that isn't really that big an issue for me.

So far, I'm pretty impressed with the 64bit version.

RE: What?
By tallcool1 on 8/4/2008 2:39:29 PM , Rating: 2
Wait, so your saying if you buy the retail version of vista versus the oem version, you can legally install it on more than one PC?

RE: What?
By rcc on 8/4/2008 3:42:16 PM , Rating: 2
No. But the OEM version is locked to one computer. Meaning that in theory if you build a new comp, you can't transfer the OS to it.

RE: What?
By DragonMaster0 on 8/4/2008 3:45:02 PM , Rating: 2
Unlike the retail version. With Windows 7 coming it shouldn't be a problem if you're getting Vista OEM for a new machine.

RE: What?
By bigboxes on 8/4/2008 3:46:56 PM , Rating: 2
No. He's saying that with the Ultimate you can move it to another pc and make upgrades to your pc easier. Once you install an OEM to a pc you cannot easily change your CPU or mobo due to the wording of the contract. With the retail version it's still just one pc at a time, just not the original pc that you are tied to with OEM.

RE: What?
By kmmatney on 8/5/2008 1:24:12 AM , Rating: 2
I've transfered my OEM copy of windows XP to several new motherboards as I've upgraded over time. When the motherboard changes, you need to re-activate windows. This worked fine on the first 3 upgrades - no issues. However my last motherboard upgrade, I had to call up Microsoft and argue that my old motherboard died - they eventually gave me a code to activate. So, you can upgrade with an OEM operating system, at least 3 times.

RE: What?
By tallcool1 on 8/5/2008 9:43:44 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps this is different with Vista?

RE: What?
By just4U on 8/5/2008 2:25:15 PM , Rating: 2
I don't believe it is different. One of my computers has been reactivated a half dozen times now (I change out alot of hardware!) and I've not run into any problems with Microsoft on my OEM Premium copy.

It's a hassle mind you calling in but mostly they just want to know if it's the only computer the key will be used on. Usually takes 5-8minutes to do.

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs
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