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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.

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?

Mick lies again
By Pirks on 7/12/2010 10:11:24 AM , Rating: 5
"Some companies -- like Apple -- heeded the call early", oh really?Let's check the facts, Mick, shall we?

XP 64-bit for Itanium - October 2001
OS X 10.4 for PPC 64 - April 2005

Apple was 3.5 years LATER than Microsoft with 64 bit OS.
Verdict: Mick lied again.
Case closed.

RE: Mick lies again
By Alexstarfire on 7/12/2010 10:48:05 AM , Rating: 3
Is it any surprise?

RE: Mick lies again
By martinrichards23 on 7/12/2010 12:33:28 PM , Rating: 2
XP 64-bit for Itanium

Yeah that was a really popular operating system.

XP 64bit for computers that people actually bought was released in April 2005 as well.

And even that was extremely unpopular, even Vista 64bit was fairly unpopular.

RE: Mick lies again
By martinrichards23 on 7/12/2010 12:34:41 PM , Rating: 2
btw, I should put it on record that I still hate Apple.

I just like facts.

RE: Mick lies again
By Taft12 on 7/12/2010 2:34:58 PM , Rating: 2
A post by Pirks is rated 4????? This is a first

Anyway, if MS "heeded the call early" in 2001, Sun had 'em beat by about half a decade and DEC a full decade.

RE: Mick lies again
By croc on 7/12/2010 3:27:18 PM , Rating: 2
I think that you, many others on this board, and possibly even Mick are getting 64 bit chips (RISC) confused with 32 bit chips with 64 bit extensions... Itanium, like its Alpha predecessor, was a RISC chip. Today few companies actually actually make RISC chips. Fujitsu, with its Sparc series, seems to be the most popular, but even they may drop the RISC chip for super-scalar raster-vector analogue chips.

Sorry, but for many apps, an X32 - 64 bit is NOT a 64 bit CPU.

By The Raven on 7/12/2010 10:11:49 AM , Rating: 3
Wonderful! Now my mother-in-law can run her malware without slowing down her system in a significant way!

No more tech support calls whoopee!

RE: Sweet!
By Taft12 on 7/12/2010 2:36:34 PM , Rating: 2
You must not have much experience with recent malware.....

RE: Sweet!
By The Raven on 7/12/2010 3:51:39 PM , Rating: 2
Actually I don't lol, and to tell you the truth, I decided to stop trying to help my mother-in-law etc. when they have malware attacks and instead focus on contributing to the FOSS community. Not to sound like a virus-free FOSS gloatbag, but no troubles here. On the other hand, my wife has a Win7 netbook with Avast! on it and there have been no probs there either. Kudos to MS!

Hopefully with whatever measley contribution I make to the community, I hope I can fix my mother-in-law, etc's problems in the near future. Until then, their calling India.

I am surprised that it is not higher
By troysavary on 7/12/2010 9:11:26 AM , Rating: 2
Every system I see on sale around here, even the cheapo compaqs and acers, have 64 bit.

By Nutzo on 7/12/2010 11:09:19 AM , Rating: 2
Even my <$400 Acer Laptop (11.6 screen, 1.3Ghz dual core) came with Windows 7 64 bit.

Unless you have some hardware/software that just won't run under 64-bit, and can't be replaced, there's no reason not to go 64-bit.

Last year none of my other home systems where 64-bit capable. This finally gave me the excuse to rebuild them (beside the fact they where getting way to slow). Household should be all 64-bit be the end of summer.

By funkyd99 on 7/12/2010 11:44:17 AM , Rating: 2
Dell is still behind the curve... even their mid-range Latitudes still come with Win7 32bit by default, and many times it's impossible to customize to 64bit without talking to a sales rep.

Years ago, the only way to get Vista 64bit on a Dell workstation was to find their secret 64bit landing page (or talk to a rep)... looks like things haven't changed much, as far as their business site goes.

Die IE6!
By Noliving on 7/12/2010 11:17:30 AM , Rating: 4
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.

So basically by 2014 we can finally say that IE6 will essentially be dead!

RE: Die IE6!
By tech4tac on 7/12/2010 1:50:42 PM , Rating: 2
...hmmm. You must have missed the funeral:

Do NOT speak ill of the dead ;-)

RAM amount
By bobsmith1492 on 7/12/2010 12:09:47 PM , Rating: 2
"With 64-bit Windows 7 up to 192 GB of memory is addressable."

Theoretically, with a 64-bit address bus, one could access 16,777,216 terabytes, so is 192GB is an arbitrary limit set by Win7?

RE: RAM amount
By UNHchabo on 7/12/2010 2:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure if it's "arbitrary", but 192GB is a limit set by Win7. If you get Windows Server 2008, it can address 2TB of RAM.

Also, I should point out that the current CPUs can't even address the full 64 bits of addressing space; they can only do 48 bits:

By YashBudini on 7/12/10, Rating: 0
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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