Windows 7 64-bit Creeping Up on 32-bit Installs

Upgrading to Windows 7? Did you go with the 64-bit or the 32-bit version? We're guessing that lots of you went for the 64-bit, as that's slowly creeping up to become the majority of Windows 7 installations.

According to data released by Microsoft, 46 percent of all Windows 7 installs are the 64-bit version. This is a huge jump over the 11 percent of 64-bit installs for Windows Vista and the less than 1 percent for Windows XP.

Windows community guy Brandon LeBlanc explained why more bits are better: "A primary benefit of 64-bit Windows is the increase in addressable memory. This makes more 'bits' available to Windows, which means more information can be 'addressed at once. 32-bit architectures have a memory ceiling of 4GB while the 64-bit architecture increases the memory ceiling to approximately 17.2 billion GB or RAM! Windows 7 is designed to use up to 192 GB of RAM, a huge jump compared to limits with all 32-bit systems.

"Essentially, 64-bit Windows allows your PC to take advantage of more memory to do more things. If you are like me and are running tons of apps, you can see a real difference in performance. Aside from the performance gains, there are also security enhancements and support for virtualization as well."

The growth in 64-bit can be attributed to a couple things. One, price of RAM, while not at a low-point right now, is still cheaper that what we paid during the launch of Windows Vista. Secondly, 77 percent of PCs sold at retail in April 2010 with Windows 7 came preinstalled with the 64-bit OS, according to NPD.

We want to hear from those of you who are running 32-bit Windows 7. Tell us why you're still behind that 4GB barrier!

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  • Tamz_msc
    The main reason behind this is that Windows 7 is the most stable 64 bit release yet from Microsoft.
  • mauller07
    It also increases the amount of virtual memory addressable by each application from 1.5GB aswell and makes all that graphics card ram fully addressable in your expensive multi card setups :P

    have to remember all memory in your system is limited by the bit depth of the address space

    7 64bit definitely worth the buy
  • palladin9479
    Ok STOP. The primary reason to use a NT x64 kernel OS (Windows XP x64 / Vista x 64 / Windows 7 x64) has nothing to do with address space, although that is a good side benefit.

    The #1 biggest reason is that the NT x64 kernel was built from the ground up, its completely 100% done from scratch. The NT x86 kernel has much code left laying around from the Win 98 / 2K / XP era, even a few 16-bit DLL's are in there. This is a requirement for the NT x86 kernel to be backwards compatible with software made for previous windows OS's, both 16 and 32 bit. This legacy code and support for undocumented features is what lead to the famous "windlblowz" and blue screen nightmares. It also led to the huge security flaws because the older NT kernels allowed applications access to kernel space memory.

    The NT x64 kernel was built from scratch with a better security model in mind, sand-boxing of kernel vs user processes and preventing user mode programs from accessing kernel memory or otherwise interfering with kernel mode drivers. A NT x64 system is very hard to crash from an application point of view. The application can crash but it won't take the system down with it. A buggy x64 driver can still cause a BSoD or unstable behavior, but that is why MS went nuts with requiring signed kernel drivers and such. Everything in kernel mode must be x64 code, you can't naively load a 32 bit piece of code into the NT x64 kernel, it just won't work. Because of that lots of older HW drivers don't work in Windows 7 and there isn't much you can do about it. They sacrificed backwards compatibility for system stability.

    32-bit applications are executed inside a virtualized system environment. There is a system component called Windows on Windows 64 (WoW64) that creates a virtual environment to execute the 32 bit code in. This includes 32-bit DLL's for DirectX, a different program files folder, and a completely different registry. 32-bit programs are rooted in the WoW64Node section of the registry instead of the main software section. If a 32-bit program crash's all it can do is take down its own bubble, all other programs remain unharmed.

    -That- is the reason you use Windows x64. Not for the memory addressing (2gb application space vs near infinite) but for the system stability and security.
  • Other Comments
  • Lmeow
    I'm not really surprised, nowadays you need more and more memory and 4 GB is I would think is standard in a 2009/2010 mainstream computer, and for 4 GB you'd need 64-bit.

    Typo, should be '17.2 billion GB of RAM!', not or. ;)
  • Lord_gandalf
    We want to hear from those of you who are running 32-bit Windows 7. Tell us why you're still behind that 4GB barrier!

    because we dont have that kind of money
  • Anonymous
    I installed Windows-7 64 bit 6 months ago as a dual boot alternative to 32-bit Windows Xp. I am still not using it on a regular base. Many reasons are there, from BAD Windows Explorer (removed many usable features from Xp and Vista) to 64-bit driver lack. I am not interested in buying new sound card, TV card, printer and DVI PVA monitor (which works only on VGA with Windows 7).