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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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Makes sense
By AlexWade on 7/12/2010 8:58:27 AM , Rating: 5
When Vista first came out, I saw computers for sale that had 512 MB of memory. It was no surprise that Vista received such bad publicity when the people making computers acted like Vista was just XP with a coat of paint. Those computers were slow pieces of junk. Most of the computers I see sold today have at least 4GB of memory. For that, I expect Windows 8 to be 64-bit only. If you need 16-bit support, there is always virtualization or DOS Box.

RE: Makes sense
By MrWho on 7/12/2010 9:11:44 AM , Rating: 2
You mean for those who need 32 bit support...

RE: Makes sense
By Spivonious on 7/12/2010 9:57:38 AM , Rating: 3
No, 16-bit support. 64-bit Windows has WoW64, which provides 32-bit emulation. But it does drop 16-bit support, which surprisingly can still show up in some installers for Win95/98 apps.

RE: Makes sense
By Bateluer on 7/12/2010 10:19:23 AM , Rating: 3
Still a lot of high dollar 16 bit code out there too, lots of electrical engineering and machining applications/equipment are dependent on it. Sadly, but its a tough sell to convince a company to upgrade a multi-million dollar machine . . . even if its applications are 20 years behind the curve.

RE: Makes sense
By funkyd99 on 7/12/2010 11:31:29 AM , Rating: 3
The worst are old 32bit applications that use (even older) 16bit installers... The program would most likely run fine if only it could be installed!

RE: Makes sense
By martinrichards23 on 7/12/2010 12:22:20 PM , Rating: 2
Still a lot of high dollar 16 bit code out there too

That's a common thing for people to think, but I wonder why on earth someone using such old software would ever need to latest operating system anyway?

Its impossible that those old 16bit applications can be guaranteed to work even on 32bit windows vista/7. They could not have been designed for it.

If you have old software that you need, then you will need to carry on using an old operating system. Fact.

Just unplug it from the internet so it is secure!

RE: Makes sense
By Taft12 on 7/12/2010 2:25:50 PM , Rating: 2
Running an old OS disconnected from the internet all well and good, the problem is getting hardware with driver support of that old operating system.

RE: Makes sense
By delphinus100 on 7/12/2010 5:37:52 PM , Rating: 2
That's a common thing for people to think, but I wonder why on earth someone using such old software would ever need to latest operating system anyway?

Because we need/want the new stuff too, but separate computers aren't affordable or practical for those few 16-bit apps that one may still use.

I knew going in that they could not work here, but there are at least two, maybe three 16 bit apps (for which there are no 32-bit versions) that I would have on my Vista-64 laptop, if I could. However, I don't want them nearly enough for a separate laptop with XP or earlier.

I do miss Hyperterminal as well, but that's not a 16-bit issue...

RE: Makes sense
By The0ne on 7/12/2010 3:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
It's sad but true of engineering apps :( You figure they could make good use of the latest OS, 64bit, memory, etc. but no, they hardly ever change. At least I haven't encountered any major issues running them in a VM.

RE: Makes sense
By rburnham on 7/12/2010 10:21:38 AM , Rating: 4
I still have my old Super NIntendo for 16-bit support.


RE: Makes sense
By MrWho on 7/12/2010 11:02:13 AM , Rating: 2
I've got my ass covered too - got my Amiga for 16bit apps and my good old Timex TC2048 for 8bit apps. :)

RE: Makes sense
By Obujuwami on 7/12/2010 12:16:30 PM , Rating: 2
*Blows the dust off his Genesis and SAGA Master System*

Yes....these will do nicely....

RE: Makes sense
By quiksilvr on 7/12/2010 1:11:51 PM , Rating: 2
You got a SAGA Master System? I thought only directors get those :/

RE: Makes sense
By marvdmartian on 7/12/2010 10:27:00 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, my best (worst) example was a friend of a friend who asked if I could speed up their system. They brought it over, and the first thing I noticed were the system specs:
Compaq (ugh) with a 1.3GHz Athlon cpu (not even an XP+?), 512mb of PC133 ram (one slot of 2 taken up), and running Vista, with that wonderful Vista compatible sticker on the outside of the case.

That thing should have never been allowed to run Vista. And whoever at Compaq that thought that it could should have been taken out back and SHOT!

Oh, and it didn't help that this person had a task bar that took up about HALF of the width of the screen, when opened up! I kindly suggested that they put a copy of XP operating system on that computer, or just go out and buy a new one, and put that one out of it's misery.

RE: Makes sense
By mmntech on 7/12/2010 11:03:27 AM , Rating: 2
The electronics industry has a hard time differentiating "capable" and "ready". They tried the same crap with HDTVs. It's vague language that confuses the heck out of consumers.

There was even a lawsuit over it as many computers labelled "Vista Capable" could only run Basic Edition. Some computers being sold with the sticker couldn't even run that at acceptable speeds.

Vista was a resource hog and that was always its problem. Windows 7 largely fixed that.

RE: Makes sense
By MrWho on 7/12/2010 12:08:45 PM , Rating: 3
It's true, but IMHO, Vista was more a marketing failure than a technical one. Let me enumerate:

- Price
- System Requirements (compared to XP)
- Lock DirectX10 to it (I'm not convinced it couldn't be done on XP)
- Stickers mentioned above - (Un)Capable vs Ready
- Development time
- Pre-launch hype

As system requirements go, 7 didn't improve anything - MS just had to make sure they didn't go up compared to Vista so it could be a success.

RE: Makes sense
By Nutzo on 7/12/2010 12:13:38 PM , Rating: 3
Actually Window 7 did lower memory usage over Vista and improved graphics performance.

Microsoft has done away with the double buffering in Vista, and this is the reason why Windows 7 will actually deliver a superior performance. “It's basically because we're letting the video card do its job in managing the memory for those windows,” DeVaan stated, with Anguilo adding, “even though we're using less memory we actually have a faster graphics system going on Win 7”.

RE: Makes sense
By Obujuwami on 7/12/2010 12:21:48 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, and I have a real wold example of this:

I was running the RC back in September/October as a VM to see what Win 7 really was compared to Vista. My system wasn't all that impressive: X2 4600, 2GB RAM, 6800GTS. I dedicated half my RAM and half my CPU, and Win 7 RC was running as fast as XP was. TBH, that one experiment is what caused me to back Windows 7 100% from RC forward.

I work in IT, and yes Win7 64-bit does pose a slight problem for my users, but overall it is the upgrade they needed at the perfect time.

RE: Makes sense
By Taft12 on 7/12/2010 2:28:36 PM , Rating: 3
How the hell did a Vista-capable sticker get on the case of a PC whose guts (going by the memory and CPU) date back to ~2001???

RE: Makes sense
By The0ne on 7/12/2010 3:09:46 PM , Rating: 2
Decisions made by people called "Managers" or someone higher up. Happens all the time.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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