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64 Processor and 64 bit OS?

by bradleonard / October 26, 2008 3:42 AM PDT

My parents are in the market for a new laptop. They were actually at Circuit City, paying for a new Toshiba Laptop when the salesperson asked them if they were aware that the computer was a 64 bit processor with a 64 bit OS (Vista Home Premium). I had been helping them select the computer, but it had never occurred to me that the manufacturers would now be shipping computers with a 64 bit OS standard.

My question is: what are the ramifications of buying a computer with a 64 OS in October of 2008? I have heard that not all Adobe Products are 64 bit compatible. This makes me wonder about other softwares such as Intuit Quicken, Microsoft Office, Firefox... are there 64 bit versions of these softwares or is the issue of 64 bit more related to hardware drivers?

There doesn't seem to be any talking about the issue anywhere that I can find on the internet. It would be no big deal if just the processor was 64 bit, and the OS was 32bit, because the OS could later be updated 64 when compatibility was at its peak.

What will most likely happen if someone buys a 64 Bit OS computer for general websurfing, emailing, MS Office Applications and some light Audio and Video editing?

I look foward to your responses.

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by Sovereign Forum moderator / October 26, 2008 4:02 AM PDT

a 64-bit computer should be backwards compatible. For example, my laptop has a 'Program Files' folder for 64-bit programs, but if I install something that is 32-bit, it will save it in 'Program Files (x86)'. It does happen through that with a few programs I get a message that says I'm not running a 32-bit OS, the installation will stop.

You can use the laptop just like any other for surfing, emailing, MS applications, etc, however, I do suggest that if there are other applications that you specifically want to run, make sure ahead of time that there aren't any compatibility issues. For example, ZoneAlarm will not run on a 64-bit OS, I had to use COMODO.

To avoid any problems all together, just go with a 32-bit. In my opinion 64-bit is going to be the future, but it'll probably still take a long time for everything to adapt to use its fullest potential.


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Very little
by Jimmy Greystone / October 26, 2008 4:03 AM PDT

Very little is the answer to your question. I've been using Vista x64 since probably mid-July, and can't say as I've had much of a problem with it.

Virtually all 32-bit apps run just fine on it, like Firefox and Office. Not sure about Quicken or all of Adobe's apps, but for a time I had Photoshop CS3 installed and it ran fine, Flash runs fine... I think you might be confusing 64-bit compatible with 64-bit native. Adobe is working on making 64-bit versions of most of their apps, since they would benefit significantly from the move to 64-bit.

The only minor thing to watch out for is driver compatibility. You want to make sure that there's a 64-bit driver before you buy. Microsoft has a handy website that lists quite a wide array of hardware devices, and whether or not they have 64-bit Vista drivers. Otherwise, a simple Google search or perusal of the company website to see if they have 64-bit drivers for download works as well.

And something else to keep in mind. You can't simply upgrade a 32-bit OS to a 64-bit. It would require you format the drive and start fresh to go from one to the other.

Aside from needing to be a little careful about buying things like printers and other hardware, the average person probably won't really notice any difference between the 32 and 64-bit Vistas. With a few small exceptions, most 32-bit apps will install and run just like they would on the 32-bit Vista. If you found a 64-bit version of the audio/video editing program though, you would see a pretty noticeable increase in performance on that. That is the sort of thing that will really shine on a 64-bit OS.

And to any mods who might be reading this. There really should be a sticky or something to cover the whole 32-bit vs 64-bit Vista question that keeps popping up repeatedly.

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Re: Very Little
by bradleonard / October 26, 2008 4:29 AM PDT
In reply to: Very little


Thanks for your reply. It was very helpful.

Just for clarification, your response encompasses using a 64 OS and and 64 Bit Processor? I would assume that windows should allow most normal 32 bit apps to run in the 64 bit environment without much issue. I would just need to make sure any external hardware that I would want to use would be compatible with the new OS.


PS, yes this topic should be sticky or even receive its own category for a while. I was not able to find any definitive answers on the internet that were recent addressing this issue. There is a ton of OLD articles ranging from 2003 to 2006 discussing the issue but none apply to current hardware and software being sold today.

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by Jimmy Greystone / October 26, 2008 5:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Very Little

Yes, you need a processor capable of executing 64-bit code before a 64-bit OS does you much good. And just kind of an in general sort of statement... If you have the option between a 32-bit and 64-bit version of any given app, USUALLY the 64-bit one will be a little faster. Sometimes there are other considerations, like with web browsers, if you use a 64-bit IE or Firefox, you won't be able to use the 32-bit Flash with it. In some ways, a blessing, since it gives you some much needed peace from Flash ads. When Adobe will actually deliver on it's long promised 64-bit Flash is anyone's guess, but... Just in general though, 64-bit apps/versions are preferable if running a 64-bit OS if given the choice.

Also, sometimes if there isn't any current info, it's because nothing has changed significantly since the last time someone wrote something up. Technically minded people have a strong tendency to be highly pragmatic, so they won't update documentation unless there's some new information that needs to be addressed or something such as that.

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I agree and it's been added to the sticky...
by John.Wilkinson / October 26, 2008 5:01 AM PDT
In reply to: Very little
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