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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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By Belard on 8/5/2008 8:47:51 AM , Rating: -1
Why has 64bit Windows become more important all of the sudden? In a word, Vista.

A 2GB XP computer doesn't run out of resources the way Vista does. Want proof? Check or sunday newspaper. There are PCs you can buy for $500~600 that have 3~4GB of RAM and a LCD monitor as well. These are bottom end computers with 4GB of RAM.

We've gone from a 1GB XP computer for power users to 4GB Vista systems to open your email and look at internet porn.

Since Vista32 doesn't actually use all 4GB of RAM, rather than confuse the customers with "why I only have 3.25GB of RAM?! I got ripped by <insert PC company name here> for selling me defective memory, I'm going to sue!". go ahead and give them 64bit and hope for the best. Considering that if someting is broken with Vista32, its mostly not going to work with Vista64 either.

Its still silly that memory requirements have exploded for the basic users because of sloppy programing from Microsoft. If Vista was built-right, 2GB would still be more than enough for most users, but instead its the new "512mb XP" config.

To some degree, this is a good thing. The transition to 64bit is becoming swift. IT *WILL* force developers to make drivers and software for 64bit. The Vista screw up will make Windows7 an easier migration.

To make things simpler, Microsoft has NO BUSINESS making a 32bit version of Windows7. Their last statement a few months ago was "It will be 32 & 64bit" But why bother? By Jan 2009, 4GB of RAM should hit about $50 on AVG (Currently $70~100), quad core CPUs starting at $120 ($150 currently for retail AMD).

And 64bit Vista really hits its sweet spot at 8GB of RAM! The virtual memory can be mostly killed (it cant be turned off completely)

So by Christmas 2009, 8GB of RAM will be -$100, Quad core CPUs -$100, 1TB HDs at $100. Who'll need 32bit Windows7?

And this is why many people and business are not dealing with Vista today. It offers little, if any advantage over XP and requires severe upgrades or new computers to use. The software and drivers today will work (supposed) 100% with Windows7. That will be the time to buy new hardware.

Ah, with only Windows7 in 64bit (Is anyone thinking in Microsoft?) there is no need to have all these 32bit SKUs or confusion about "I need to upgrade to 64bit version, it will cost me how much?" reformating and installing OSes, etc etc. please MS, have simple verisons of Windows7. Home, business, server. OEM and Retail/Upgrade (Retail costs $100~150, no "upgrade" $100 version).

By mindless1 on 8/5/2008 5:35:29 PM , Rating: 2
Why bother with 32 bit is because the industry is moving towards smaller, less expensive systems that have smaller flash based storage and won't necessarily have over 4GB memory in them, if even that. A modular 32bit Windows 7 could be more suitable for that than either 32/64 version of Vista or 64bit Windows 7.

If we make the advanced plans to just keep piling more memory into systems, what does this allow? It allows developers to keep being sloppy, keep bloating code, keep preventing the cost of systems for our most common uses from decreasing, as well as the size of our ultraportable systems.

I have mixed feelings about this kind of artificial cap, but if we look to history as evidence, something needs to be done to turn this ship around before the increasing complexity causes more and more unresolved bugs, the bandwidth causes more and more slowdowns in networking (esp. wireless), and we reach a point where we can't just keep improving upon existing electronics tech to counter this, or at least not without large cost increases. This may be a few years away still, but in that time if we don't reverse or at least slow the data/code/etc growth, it will limit us more than if we took steps today to manage it.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins
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