Print 125 comment(s) - last by Alien spoon.. on Feb 4 at 1:16 PM

Microsoft Says Tipping Point Already Reached

According to a source inside Microsoft, over 25 percent of Vista installations in the US at the end of last year were 64-bit. There were several major drivers for the switch to 64-bit, most related to cheap DDR2 DRAM.

Jon DeVaan, Senior Vice-President of the Windows Core Operating System Division, agrees. "From our point of view we believe that we have accomplished the tipping point in terms of 64-bit adoption. Now, this happened to a large degree because memory prices are coming down, and another dynamic that we've seen in the United States is that the retail channel is looking to use RAM upgrades as a way to boost margin. So what that means is that 64-bit machine run rate is increasing rapidly, and that means our ability to support those 64-bit machines fully in the broad ecosystem is a really important thing."

Any PC with 4GB of RAM or more must use a 64-bit installation of Windows in order to address the full amount of RAM. Typically a 32-bit installation would recognize a maximum of 3-3.5GB of RAM.

Instead of purchasing a 32-bit version and then having to change to 64-bit later when they purchase more RAM, many are choosing 64-bit at the start. Over 75 percent of Windows sales are based on OEM installations of new computers.

The majority of Core i7 platforms are also using 64-bit operating systems, due to the triple channel memory setup using more RAM.

If you bought Windows Vista as a retail packaged product, Microsoft offers a free 64-bit upgrade DVD for the cost of shipping and handling. The upgrade will be a full clean installation over the 32-bit version. Windows Vista Ultimate already includes 32-bit and 64-bit versions on the DVD.

Many OEMs also provide a free or low cost option to switch to 64-bit Vista.

Windows 7 is expected to be the last to natively run at 32-bits. The next major Windows revision after it will be 64-bit native, running 32-bit applications through the use of a compatibility layer.

Windows Server 2008 R2, the server version of Windows 7, is already exclusively 64-bit.

With the switch to Windows 7, it would be easiest for PC OEMs to adopt 64-bit exclusively. That would reduce the number of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) and drivers that would be needed by half, not an insignificant number when you consider that Windows 7 will ship in at least 4 editions. Multiply that by at least 34 localized language versions.

Additionally, the price premium of DDR3 will drop significantly as 50nm production kicks in. DDR3 is the memory of choice for AMD's CPUs using the AM3 socket, as well as Intel's Core i7 and Core i5 (Lynnfield). Due to lower power consumption, DDR3 adoption on laptops is progressing rapidly as well.

"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," said Chris Flores, a Director on the Windows Client Communications Team.

Since 64-bit Vista and Windows 7 can run 32-bit applications, the last remaining hurdle is driver compatibility. Many new devices now have 64-bit device drivers available for Vista, and those should be mostly compatible with Windows 7.

An important tool is the Windows Vista Compatibility Center. Devann thinks that 64-bit support will drive sales: "They can go here and look at 64-bit compatibility, and with the trend that we just saw this is a good place for communicating with your customers about your support for 64-bit, so that they can prefer your product if they have one of these 64-bit systems".

Devann addressed the crowd at WinHEC with the following message, "I urge everyone here to make sure that you have the right 64-bit support, and in general 32-bit software runs fine on 64-bit Windows, but when it comes to drivers, that's where the work is. And with this audience, it's something that we're all acutely aware."

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By Baov on 1/22/2009 2:01:15 AM , Rating: 5
This sucks! What about REEEEEAAAAAAAAAALLY old games that run in 16bit DOS?

By sliderule on 1/22/2009 2:34:27 AM , Rating: 3
If I can't play Spacewar! I'll be pissed!!111one

By StevoLincolnite on 1/22/2009 4:43:38 AM , Rating: 2
Get on old rig going, I did with Windows 98 and SLI Voodoo 2's so I can play the old classics in Glide. ;)

By probedb on 1/22/2009 5:02:50 AM , Rating: 2
Well seeing I can get BBC Micro emulators I'm sure someone will sort something for ye olde DOS games.

By freeagle on 1/22/2009 6:55:39 AM , Rating: 5
How about DOSBox?

By ADDAvenger on 1/22/2009 12:41:27 PM , Rating: 1
I use DosBox on my Vista64 laptop, the only catch is DoxBox still uses IPX for multiplayer and Vista finally did away with that protocol

By The0ne on 1/22/2009 1:12:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, people really need to research more and instead of setting up an old pc, run DOSbox or something similar. WINE for linux, etc.

And since PCs are faster, in general specifications, you can run VMs and run your games there too :)

By FITCamaro on 1/22/2009 8:17:11 AM , Rating: 2
So run a virtual machine with 32-bit XP install.

I'm glad they're finally getting rid of old legacy code for the sake of progress.

By bobsmith1492 on 1/22/2009 8:48:19 AM , Rating: 2
That's what I have to do... to play my games of "Stars!" Unfortunately I also have 16-bit engineering software (Eagle circuit and board layout) that, while it runs on Vista 64, renders super-slow when panning and zooming. :(

By FITCamaro on 1/22/2009 9:11:13 AM , Rating: 2
You can only cater to the lowest common denominator for so long before it isn't worth the effort.

Unless you're the government that is.

By mindless1 on 1/22/2009 11:02:08 AM , Rating: 2
Except that when it comes to 32bit OS, that is about 90% of the planet if not more. Only enthusiasts and professionals running workstation like loads care anything about 64bit, the rest of the population might have bought a system with 64bit OS but only 'cuz it came from HP or Dell that way.

Yes it's time to put more support into 64bit OS/drivers, but no we shouldn't drop 32bit support, that'd be stupid when it's the vast majority of PCs on earth.

Fact is, it just doesn't require 4GB of memory, nor even 2GB, to do the tasks most people do on a PC. Somehow this basic fact gets lost in the all the noise. There should be, and will be, a period of transition as there has always been in the past with other tech, because those with cooler heads realize what I do.

By FITCamaro on 1/22/2009 12:05:57 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't say running a 32-bit OS was the lowest common denominator. I said running a PC that can't run a 64-bit OS is. The vast majority of PCs out there have a 64-bit capable processor.

And if you don't, you merely don't upgrade your OS. Likely you wouldn't anyway since your older hardware wouldn't be able to handle the new OS.

By mindless1 on 1/23/2009 11:35:39 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think most who use 32bit should upgrade their OS, and yet some do, and since Vista has a 32bit version and Win7 is for all reasonable intents a WinME version of Vista, it should be a matter of announcing an end-of-like support cycle for 32bit, let them announce years ahead of time to give businesses due warning.

By Etern205 on 1/22/2009 6:12:54 PM , Rating: 2
Just setup a virutal machine and you can play your old 16bit games from there, with Win98 and run from there.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
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