I am building a trimmed-down version of my comp for a friend. She is just going to use it for email, internet, music, and dvd/cd burning. I have Win 7 pro 64 bit and have had minimal compatibility issues, and I have been able to get those straightened out. Given that she will only have 2 gigs of RAM and would need my help to sort out any issues, is there any benefit for her in getting the 64 bit version of windows 7? Thanks.
Not much benefit with 2 GB unless you plan on installing more later, I know there are people that recommend 64 bit now. If she has some legacy software and hardware you may find that you get less calls from her with 32 bit.
In OEM you will have to choose 32 or 64 bit, but in an Upgrade or Retail both disks will be included.
If there's no chance that she's going to use the computer for anything else in the future then 32-bit is probably fine.
But if she might decide to use the computer to edit photos, use Office, or other applications, etc., then it might be worth installing 64-bit now. If you start to run into the limits of your computer then one of the cheapest and most effective upgrades you can do is to add more RAM. With a 32-bit OS you'll be restricted to less than 4GB of RAM, whereas a 64-bit OS will let you go to whatever the limit of your hardware is.
I imagine she will use other apps, but will probably not do too much multi-tasking. My inclination was to go 64bit for purposes of upgrading, but I wan't it to be trouble free for her and I just can't see her needing 4gigs of RAM.
There is no real cost from 32bit to 64bit. If I were you, I would purchase the 64bit version. Microsoft will soon leave the 32bit system... and I fear they will do it the VISTA way... remember when nothing on XP was compatible with Vista? The problem is still an issue even with Windows 7 on the shelves.
What type of existing hardware, if any, does she have? If she has any old legacy hardware, it might not work with 64-bit Windows. If she doesn't have any old hardware she's going to hook up, then I'd go 64-bit for future upgrades, especially when it comes to memory.
One thing I've noticed with people who say "I'll only use it for xxxxx". Eventually, yyyy and zzzzz come up and when they limit themselves, they find that can't run what they want and then they have to spend more money to overhaul the system.
I guess it just depends on what your system is and what you are planning on trimming down on (CPU, graphics card, etc).
I agree with those who recommend 64-bit. Only reasons to use 32-bit anymore are:
1) Less than 2 GB of RAM (no problem in your situation).
2) Legacy hardware or software that simply will not work with 64-bit.
So look into her situation with regard to reason #2. Check the Windows 7 Compatibility Center or manufacturer's website if you are unsure of compatibility for a piece of software. If there is nothing incompatible, I highly recommend you use 64-bit Win7.
Upto 4 gigs of ram - no real performance advantage with 64 bit (32 bit will have 3.5 gigs of ram available for operating system plus programs, 64 bit - 4 gigs). In her cas, as my wife's, I see no need to go above 4 gigs of ram.
As to programs, Yes 32 bit will die out (Seveal years from now) - Bear in mind, for the average user, most new programs just add bloat (Features the average user will not use - Just look at word processor suites.
I'm running 32 bit (with 4 gigs) on two laptops and one desktop. Have 4 gigs on new desktop w/4 gigs ram. And yse I have a very good scanner that the vender refuses to updat driver.
That Said, If she ups the memory to 4 gigs and has NO Compatability issues with 64 bit GO FOR IT - BUT she will also be fine with 32 Bit for the near term (ie 4 ->5 years). This is a forum where the "Latest and Greatest" is embraced.