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Windows 7's 64-bit adoption contrasts sharply with lackluster Windows Vista 64-bit adoption

With the rise of memory hungry applications like browsers with rich web content, DirectX 11/OpenGL video games, and an ever expanding wealth of business software, the time for 64-bit software is obviously now.  Some companies -- like Apple -- heeded the call early.  Others like Adobe (Flash), have yet to make a move on many flagship products.  But Microsoft may just convince those laggards to act, with the success of Windows 7 64-bit edition.

Early numbers from video game download service Valve indicated Windows 7 64-bit adoption to be quite high.  On Thursday, Microsoft blogger Brandon LeBlanc confirmed these numbers, reporting that as of June 2010 46 percent of Windows 7 installs were 64-bit.  This number is dramatically high, when compared to Windows Vista, which had only 11 percent 64-bit installs, or Windows XP, which had less than 1 percent 64-bit installs.

The biggest advantage of the leap to 64-bit is the increase in the amount of addressable memory.  32-bit systems can only address up to 4 GB.  With 64-bit Windows 7 up to 192 GB of memory is addressable.

One key factor to adoption was Microsoft's insistence that hardware partners make their devices compatible with the 64-bit version of Windows 7.  Writes LeBlanc:

Through the Windows Logo Program (the “Compatible with Windows 7" logo today), hardware partners are required to develop 64-bit drivers for their devices and software partners are required to have their applications compatible with 64-bit Windows 7. This groundwork was laid with the Windows Logo Program for Windows Vista and carries through to today with Windows 7. 

Businesses are loving Windows 7 64-bit -- in fact Gartner predicts that by 2014 75 percent of business PCs will be running a 64-bit edition of Windows.  Intel, which opted out of the "Vista experience", recently completed a massive adoption [PDF] of 64-bit Windows 7 and has loved the results thus far.

Windows 7 is the fastest-selling operating system in world history.  Even as Windows 7 looks to pass Windows XP to become the 
best-selling operating system in history, Microsoft is reportedly hard at work on Windows 8, which may see a 2011 release.  The company is also preparing Windows 7 Service Pack 1 for public consumption.

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How about...
By danobrega on 7/12/2010 8:38:29 AM , Rating: 2
dropping the 32bit version for Windows 8? It's about time.

RE: How about...
By Brandon Hill on 7/12/2010 8:40:37 AM , Rating: 4
I say they go 64-bit with only two (retail) versions:

Home & Professional -- just like the good old Windows XP days (before Media Center came in to muck things up :-) ).

RE: How about...
By Taft12 on 7/12/2010 2:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
MS planned EVEN MORE than the 5 versions of Vista that were released (double that for 32/64 bit variants) until OEMs like Dell told them to take a hike.

They are moving in the right direction, but getting that down to 2 versions (64-bit only) would be commendable.

RE: How about...
By amanojaku on 7/12/2010 8:48:36 AM , Rating: 1
It's planned (I forget when), but the date/version is a moving target. MS just can't drop 32-bit support and expect people to say "no big deal!" What usually happens is software companies collect statistics of the user base (like Valve did), then MS meets with the largest companies and obtains the metrics. MS would then send a survey out to developers globally (through some kind of registry, convention, etc...) to compare their stats to the large companies' results. If the trend shows a significant increase in 64-bit usage AND a significant decrease in 32-bit usage AND developers clearly abandon 32-bit MS would announce the final 32-bit OS.

RE: How about...
By Flunk on 7/12/2010 9:02:30 AM , Rating: 2
Since 64bit Windows can also run 32bit programs a lot of your arguments are void.

What they really need is for every piece of computer hardware manufacturered for about 5 years to be 64bit compliant (including drivers). That way they can make the transition with leaving out the majority of user's hardware.

RE: How about...
By amanojaku on 7/12/2010 11:11:07 AM , Rating: 2
I wish it was that simple. Anyone who works in the corporate world would know that most systems (particularly user systems) are still 32-bit, with the majority of 64-bit systems being servers. The fact is the large organizations have a lot of applications to support, and out of 1000+ apps there might be that one that's incompatible with the 64-bit OS for some stupid reason, and not because of a piece of hardware. Yet, it's a core piece of the company's business process and can't be removed. So the end result is the organization stays with 32-bit until that application gets updated, which could be never. At that point the organization is required to stick with a 32-bit OS. Political battles will ensue as people try to get away from the legacy app, but in the years (yes, years) that battle is fought user systems need to be purchased or renewed, further entrenching the application.

If MS was only worried about gamers and web surfers we would have been 64-bit-only 3-5 years ago. But MS doesn't make money off of us, it makes it's money off lucrative corporate support contracts.

RE: How about...
By martinrichards23 on 7/12/2010 12:28:42 PM , Rating: 2
So which organisations are running software that can't be updated?

That would be a terrible position to be in for any reason, not just 64bit issue!

RE: How about...
By gixser on 7/12/2010 8:23:00 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect many organizations are running software that "cannot* be updated. Happens all the time, especially in my segment of the IT field - Law Firms...especially now.

In these past two years this has been my experience: Software companies going out of business - no updates. Budget slashed - no money to buy update or switch to new software. Even if there is money to purchase software, IT staff has been cut but project load is increasing. No IT resources left to implement or document changes let alone research alternative products or provide training. Yeah, pretty much sucks but I suspect we'll see a big increase in budget this year. If not, things are going to go pear shaped pretty dammed fast.

I work for a large, global law firm and that's my experience. I remember working at small law firms were I was the only "IT guy" and the phrase "IT budget" was complete jibberish. Needless to say, updates/upgrades were not planned unless it mean't certain disaster.

Maybe that's just law firms though....hopefully.

RE: How about...
By danobrega on 7/12/2010 9:13:26 AM , Rating: 2
yeah yeah, that's all very politically correct of them. The problem is your not going anywhere soon if you want all the ladies to agree. Sometimes you just have to do it. If MS switched to 64bit only others would follow, there would be no other chance. The previous versions would still support 32 bits for long enough.

RE: How about...
By rburnham on 7/12/2010 10:19:41 AM , Rating: 2
I was hoping they would do that with Vista. I heard that Intel had a lot to do with them keeping the 32-bit version? Something about some of their chips being only 32-bit capable?

Anyway, these numbers seem low. Most tech folks I know said they went 64-bit with Vista and never looked back. Heck, among the four PCs in my house, only one was 32-bit Vista when it came out, and that was only because my wife had an old digital recorder that would not work in Vista x64. That item is long gone and now we are a fully 64-bit household.

But yeah, please Microsoft go 64-bit with Windows 8. Please! I'll be your best friend?

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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