Friday, October 16, 2009

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Differences Between 32-bit and 64-bit Versions Of Windows Vista And Windows 7

This article describes the differences between the 32-bit versions of Windows Vista and the 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. You can also consider this for Windows 7, the next version of Windows Operating System.

Note: To use a 64-bit version of Windows Vista, you must have a computer that has a 64-bit processor. Also, you must have 64-bit device drivers for the devices that are in the computer.
You may want to determine whether the platform of Windows Vista is installed. To verify that you have the platform of Windows Vista, follow these steps:


1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and then click Properties.
2. The operating system appears as follows:
  • For a 64-bit version operating system, "64-bit Operating System" appears for the system type under System.
  • For a 32-bit version operating system, "32-bit Operating System" appears for the system type under System.
Microsoft Win32 uses the x86 processor in 32-bit flat mode. Therefore, a x86-based version means a 32-bit version operating system.
The main differences between the 32-bit versions of Windows Vista and the 64-bit...
The main differences between the 32-bit versions of Windows Vista  and the 64-bit versions of Windows Vista relate to memory accessibility, memory management, and enhanced security features. The security features that are available in the 64-bit versions of Windows Vista include the following:
  • Kernel Patch Protection
  • Support for hardware-backed Data Execution Protection (DEP)
  • Mandatory driver signing
  • Removal of support for 32-bit drivers
  • Removal of the 16-bit subsystem
One of the greatest advantages of using a 64-bit version of Windows Vista is the ability to access physical memory (RAM) that is above the 4-gigabyte (GB) range. This physical memory is not addressable by 32-bit versions of Windows Vista.

Depending on the version of Windows Vista that is installed, a 64-bit version of Windows Vista supports from 1 GB of RAM to more than 128 GB of RAM. The ability to address more physical memory lets Windows Vista minimize the time that is required to swap processes in and out of physical memory. Therefore, Windows Vista can manage processes more efficiently. This memory management feature helps improve the overall performance of Windows Vista.

Advantages when you install a 64-bit version of Windows Vista
  • Increased memory support beyond that of the 4-GB addressable memory space that is available in a 32-bit operating system
  • Increased program performance for programs that are written to take advantage of a 64-bit operating system
  • Enhanced security features
What to consider when you install a 64-bit version of Windows Vista
  • 64-bit device drivers may not be available for one or more devices in the computer.
  • Device drivers must be digitally signed.
  • 32-bit device drivers are not supported.
  • 32-bit programs may not be fully compatible with a 64-bit operating system.
  • It may be difficult to locate programs that are written specifically for a 64-bit operating system.
  • Not all hardware devices may be compatible with a 64-bit version of Windows Vista.
System requirements:
32b - 1-gigahertz (GHz) 32-bit (x86) processor or 64-bit (x64) processor, 512 MB of RAM
64b - 1-GHz 64-bit (x64) processor, 1 GB of RAM (4 GB recommended)

Memory access:
A 32-bit version of Windows Vista can access up to 4 GB of RAM.
A 64-bit version of Windows Vista can access from 1 GB of RAM to more than 128 GB of RAM.

Memory access per edition 
All 32-bit versions of Windows Vista can access up to 4 GB of RAM.
Windows Vista Home Basic - 8 GB of RAM
Windows Vista Home Premium - 16 GB of RAM
Windows Vista Business - 128 GB of RAM or more
Windows Vista Enterprise - 128 GB of RAM or more
Windows Vista Ultimate - 128 GB of RAM or more

DEP:
32-bit versions of Windows Vista use a software-based version of DEP. 64-bit versions of Windows Vista support hardware-backed DEP.

Kernel Patch Protection (PatchGuard)
This feature is not available in 32-bit versions of Windows Vista. This feature is available in 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. Kernel Patch Protection helps prevent a malicious program from updating the Windows Vista kernel. This feature works by helping to prevent a kernel-mode driver from extending or replacing other kernel services. Also, this feature helps prevent third-party programs from updating (patching) any part of the kernel.

Driver signing:
Unsigned drivers may be used with 32-bit versions of Windows Vista. 64-bit versions of Windows Vista require that all device drivers be digitally signed by the developer.

32-bit driver support 32-bit versions of Windows Vista support 32-bit drivers that are designed for Windows Vista. 64-bit versions of Windows Vista do not support 32-bit device drivers.

16-bit program support 32-bit versions of Windows Vista support 16-bit programs, in part. 64-bit versions of Windows Vista do not support 16-bit programs.

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Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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British Benzene
AUTHOR
October 17, 2009 at 7:28 AM delete

AH, will they allow Vista 32-bit users to upgrade to 64-bit Win7 or will I have to buy a full license? That's my question (and it probably won't be answered soon, more of a Marketing decision).

When I built my PC I went with 32-bit Vista based on wonky drivers and 2-3 programs my wife needed for her business that (reportedly) had trouble with 32 bit. But now supposedly all of that has been fixed, so I'd gladly pay $50 to go from 32bit Vista to 64bit Vista, especially if I didn't have to do a full re-install.

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
October 17, 2009 at 7:39 AM delete

I'm already dual-booting XP with the 32-bit Windows 7 beta, can I ditch it and install the 64-bit version instead, with the same product key?

Also, my day-to-day use Windows XP installation is 32-bit, is there any problem switching between the two?

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bench3.com
AUTHOR
October 17, 2009 at 7:43 AM delete

You need a 64-bit key, but luckily you can still get one.

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
October 17, 2009 at 7:45 AM delete

The 64-bit and 32-bit keys are the same. I've got both versions installed on separate machines with the same key.

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bench3.com
AUTHOR
October 17, 2009 at 7:47 AM delete

Wow, that's uncharacteristically laissez faire of Microsoft..

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
October 17, 2009 at 7:49 AM delete

I have a 3GB notebook so I'm stuck with 32-bit, I'm pretty sure its not worth it to upgrade my RAM since all of my applications still run quick enough (Firefox takes around 5 seconds to fully loadup) and I have no serious issues with GIMP (still wish it would load up faster though).

Also is it even possible to upgrade my RAM myself? On a notebook I mean, I've seen guides on how to do it for a desktop on some sites.

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October 17, 2009 at 7:52 AM delete

You're limited to the total amount of RAM by the chipset anyways. Your likely max is going to be 4Gigs on a laptop, so there's really no reason to choose 64-bit over 32-bit.

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bench3.com
AUTHOR
January 19, 2010 at 3:13 PM delete

Though 32-bit versions of Windows 7 “support” 4GB of RAM, they can only access about 3.1GB of RAM, even when a full 4GB of RAM is installed in the PC. This is because of a limitation in the way that 32-bit versions of Windows handle memory access. If you were to install an x64 version of Windows 7 on the same system, you would have access to the entire 4GB of RAM. The 64-bit Windows 7 versions have dramatically improved memory capacity, as noted in the preceding tables.

The most amazing thing about that 192GB address space on Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate is that it’s a moving target and could, in fact, increase in the years ahead. In fact, it’s increased since Windows Vista. On that system, the maximum amount of RAM was a relatively paltry 128GB. Ah, progress.

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