Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Windows Vista: 32-Bit or 64-Bit Editions

Windows XP x64 was the first 64-bit edition of the consumer version of the Windows OS. Windows Vista like XP comes in two versions, the x86 (32-bit) and the x64 (64-bit) versions.

Some people might ask what's the difference between x86 and the x64 versions of Windows? I will over simplify the answer by telling you the biggest difference between the two OSes:
  • x64 version of Vista can address up to 128GB of RAM (the x86 version can only address up to 4GB of RAM)
  • x64 version of Vista supports Data Execution Prevention (DEP). DEP can helps protect your computer against software-based attacks by preventing code executing in memory that's marked for data only.
The two biggest problems with the x64 version of Windows, is that it requires 64-bit versions of all your hardware drivers (i.e.: printers, video, sound, etc.). There are also some application compatibility problems with older programs.

In Vista's defense it's worth noting newer hardware is shipping with the 32 and 64-bit versions of the drivers. Some hardware manufactures are also updating their drivers to work with the 32 and 64-bit versions of Vista. Check your hardware manufacturer's web site for more information.
  • You can't use the 32-bit drivers in the x64 version of Windows.
  • All x64 drivers have to be digitally signed by the manufacture in order to be installed in the x64 version of Windows.
  • The 64-bit version of Vista lacks support for older 16-bit DOS and Windows applications altogether.
So you might ask at this point should I upgrade to the x64 version of Windows Vista, and my answer is that all depends. If you need to run the x64 versions of applications, then you should upgrade. If you don't need to run these application and you don't need to access more then 4GB of RAM then you should run the x86 version of the OS.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow... so i'll just go for 32-bit.. thanks for this post :)