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Microsoft Stops Giving PC Makers Windows 10 32-Bit

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Microsoft started giving OEMS access to its next Windows 10 update, Windows 10 version 2004, this week, and the update spells a limited future for 32-bit versions of Windows 10 going forward. 

As spotted by Neowin, in the new minimum hardware requirements for Windows 10 version 2004 , Microsoft notes, “Beginning with Windows 10, version 2004, all new Windows 10 systems will be required to use 64-bit builds and Microsoft will no longer release 32-bit builds for OEM distribution.”

For the average person, this means that any new desktop PCs or laptops that come with Windows 10 for free will feature the 64-bit version. However, owners of existing 32-bit systems don’t need to fret just yet.

“This does not impact 32-bit customer systems that are manufactured with earlier versions of Windows 10,” the note says. “Microsoft remains committed to providing feature and security updates on these devices, including continued 32-bit media availability in non-OEM channels to support various upgrade installation scenarios.”

While Microsoft is working to unify its machines on Windows 10 64-bit, likely for easy updating, customers on either version won’t see many changes anytime soon.

The 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Windows share similar features and UIs, but this news isn’t entirely unexpected. Windows 10 32-bit systems can only utilize 4GB of RAM, which is unusually small even for modern budget laptops. Most recent PCs are already manufactured with Windows 10 64-bit already. The most recent Steam hardware survey, for instance, recently revealed that only one-fifth of a percent of the service’s customer base uses Windows 10 32-bit.

You can still buy 32-bit Windows 10 online. 

Windows 10 version 2004, also known as the “Windows 10 May 2020 Update,” is fittingly due to drop before the end of the month

Do I Have 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10? 

Microsoft is still supporting Windows 10 32-bit, but it's only a matter of time before  the OS vendor starts phasing it out more. 

Thankfully, it's easy to figure out which version of Windows your system uses. 

(Image credit: Future)

You can see if you the system you're using has the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 10 by going to your computer’s settings, clicking on “system” and then clicking again on “about.” Or, you can type “about” into your Windows search bar. 

Michelle Ehrhardt

Michelle Ehrhardt is an editor at Tom's Hardware. She's been following tech since her family got a Gateway running Windows 95, and is now on her third custom-built system. Her work has been published in publications like Paste, The Atlantic, and Kill Screen, just to name a few. She also holds a master's degree in game design from NYU.