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Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit! (Read 14689 times)
NightOwl
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Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Jun 8th, 2010 at 6:53pm
 
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Well, I have to make some decisions about how to proceed into a new world of computing with a new system--and I have to admit--I'm torn by indecision!!!!  Too many variables--to many opinions--no good experience to fall back on.

Win7 -- 64 bit

Looks like I loose the use of my Epson Scanner--a really nice one with good resolution, etc., but apparently too old and not enough were sold to make Epson write the needed Win7 64 bit device driver.  But, there is a compatible Vista 32 bit driver if I go with Win7 32 bit--I think!--no way to know until I try!!!

And, I will get basic printing from my HP Deskjet--but none of the special extra functions that came with the HP printer driver--again I would be okay (I think) if I go with the Win7 32 bit--the HP driver would be available--but, I have no way of knowing if it will be the same as WinXP's driver--or at least similar.

Found these links that discuss some of pros and cons:

http://www.infoworld.com/d/windows/32-bit-windows-7-or-64-bit-windows-7-145?sour...

Then saw this--applies to using Office 2010 64 bit--which means Win7 64 bit as well:

http://www.infoworld.com/t/desktop-productivity/word-the-wise-avoid-64-bit-offic...


And, now there is this!:

http://www.askwoody.com/2010/kb-980408-rename-folders-64bit-windows-7-systems/

http://www.askwoody.com/2010/msdefcon-2-apply-patches-64bit-win7-systems/

I suppose that could happen to the 32 bit system too, but......it has me pausing!



To be honest--I'm not a big data base power user--I don't make or use huge Excel spreadsheets--don't do audio and video editing--I do some photoshop editing of digital pictures--but not routinely or extensively.

So my questions to the forum--will I be loosing a great deal if I choose to go with Win7 32 bit vs Win7 64 bit?

Is there enough gain in performance to justify having to abandon perfectly good hardware that simply is not supported by a 64 bit driver?

Is staying with 32 bit Win7 going to offer more compatibility for the time being--is 64 bit really main stream and needed by the masses sooner than later?

If anyone has experience and can offer specific and/or general comments about what they know about these issues--I sure would like to hear them!

I am also considering just installing WinXP for now--something I'm reasonably comfortable with--all my hardware and software is (are?) known to be compatible in this situation because that's what I've been using for the last 6-7 years, or so--so thoughts on that vs Win7!

Thanks for any comments!

 

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Brian
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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #1 - Jun 8th, 2010 at 11:25pm
 
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NightOwl

I'm interested too. I've read that you won't notice much difference between the two OS unless you have at least 8 GB of RAM for your 64 bit.
 
 
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Christer
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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #2 - Jun 9th, 2010 at 2:58pm
 
NightOwl,
I've been doing some research on behalf of my friend for whom I built a new system. First off:

Quote:
I suppose that could happen to the 32 bit system too, but......it has me pausing!

I have always been of the opinion that unless you have VERIFIED that an update (other than security updates) really is needed, don't install it. If you have an issue that is rectified by installing the update, go for it. I have a feeling that when these updates get worked into a Service Pack, the guys at quality control have done a better job.

Quote:
So my questions to the forum--will I be loosing a great deal if I choose to go with Win7 32 bit vs Win7 64 bit?

You need 64-bit applications to harvest all the benefits. My friend choose 64-bit OS to be able to run 64-bit Photoshop. All 32-bit applications suffer the same limitations as on a 32-bit OS. One example is that a maximum of 2 GB RAM can be allocated to each 32-bit application. Multi tasking several 32-bit applications on a 32-bit OS will exhaust the 4 GB RAM sooner than the 8 GB RAM on a 64-bit OS. With 4 GB RAM on a 64-bit OS, there really is no benefit ... Lips Sealed ... I think.

Quote:
Is there enough gain in performance to justify having to abandon perfectly good hardware that simply is not supported by a 64 bit driver?

As I indicated above, if planning on sticking with 32-bit software, I would think twice. In my case, a nine (9) years old scanner and printer could do well with a retirement plan. HP has 64-bit drivers for both (I think) but without the extras such as the Tool Box. The "need" to replace ageing hardware encourages my decision on 64-bit OS and renewing the whole system.

Quote:
I am also considering just installing WinXP for now--so thoughts on that vs Win7!

Even if only temporarily, I would install XP to get the hard disks partitioned and formated under XP for compatibility with Ghost 2003. My friends new build was fast with XP but I think it is even faster with 7. That is a "general feeling" only, totally unsupported by any serious tests.
 

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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #3 - Jun 9th, 2010 at 3:59pm
 
NightOwl,
in the other thread in which you asked about the system I built for a friend, I wrote:

Quote:
(Also, a 32-bit application, even if running in a 64-bit environment, can only use less than 4 GB so, 8 GB might be a waste of resources.)

In my post above, I wrote:

Quote:
One example is that a maximum of 2 GB RAM can be allocated to each 32-bit application.

It appears like I have done some homework and I have learnt that the 2 GB limit per 32-bit application is a limit imposed by Windows.
 

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Dan Goodell
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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #4 - Jun 9th, 2010 at 5:12pm
 
For the sake of lurkers who may not realize this, I believe the retail version of Win7 includes both 32- and 64-bit DVDs in the box.  You can't install and activate both (eg, on two computers at the same time), but I think you can install the 32-bit version now and switch to the 64-bit later.  (I haven't confirmed that, though.)  So the question isn't which version to buy, but which DVD to install now.

NightOwl wrote:
    "will I be loosing a great deal if I choose to go with Win7 32 bit vs Win7 64 bit?"
I agree with Christer--you won't see any meaningful improvement unless you have more than 4GB of RAM, and even then only if you use memory-intensive applications.

    "Is staying with 32 bit Win7 going to offer more compatibility for the time being--is 64 bit really main stream and needed by the masses sooner than later?"
32-bit Win7 is definitely more compatible.  It works with more old hardware.  There are also several older programs that don't work on the 64-bit OS.  Some of that is to be expected, but some of it is puzzling.  For instance, versions of Quicken or QuickBooks more than about 3 yrs old won't work, but do work fine on 32-bit Win7.  Why?  That just feels like lazy programming to me.

I believe "the masses" don't really *need* 64-bit now.  But from what I've seen, the mid-level offerings from mainstream manufacturers are hordes of Win7 64-bit machines with 4GB of RAM.  Even though the 64-bit OS is being underutilized, it's a marketing advantage without any cost differential to the manufacturer.  The average consumer may not be aware of the pros/cons, but that's what they're being sold, so it won't be long before there's a critical mass of 64-bit machines in use and RAM prices will come down.  At present, there's still a price premium for 4GB DIMMs (ie, one 4GB module costs more than two 2GB modules), which is probably why the sweet spot currently seems to be a machine with two 2GB DIMMs.  As these machines become more ubiquitous, 4GB modules should drop to no more than 2x the price of a 2GB module, and then the mainstream PCs will come with 8GB to start with.

By then, we might start seeing mainstream hardware and apps customized for 64-bit, and 32-bit OS's could start getting left out.  If that happens, it's probably not more than a few years off.

The counterpoint, though, is that the center of the universe is rapidly moving away from the overwhelming dominance of PC apps, so the march to 64-bit ubiquity could be short-circuited.  Laptops are already outselling desktops, and the biggest growth market is netbooks and smaller mobile devices.  The more the lines blur between PCs and mobile devices, the more pressure there is on developers to steer toward cross-platform compatibility and away from making big, memory-hogging apps.  There will still be a place for them, of course, but they could remain a niche market.

    "Win7 -- 64 bit [...] Looks like I loose the use of my Epson Scanner--a really nice one with good resolution, etc., but apparently too old and not enough were sold to make Epson write the needed Win7 64 bit device driver."
Don't forget that you can always use VMWare or VirtualBox to run the scanner in a 32-bit virtual machine.  (In fact, that's the way I run my scanner, even though my host OS is still XP.)  If you have Win7 Professional or Ultimate, Microsoft also provides the "XP-Mode" option.  Unlike VMWare or VirtualBox (which need a separate copy of XP with its own license), XP-Mode gives you a "free" copy of XP.

 
 
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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #5 - Jun 9th, 2010 at 8:52pm
 
NightOwl wrote on Jun 8th, 2010 at 6:53pm:
will I be loosing a great deal if I choose to go with Win7 32 bit vs Win7 64 bit?

Not a great deal of performance, but some.  32 bit Windows can only address about 3.2GB of memory, so even with 4GB in your system there is some gain.  Plus 64bit always feels snappier to me. 

32bit processors are as old as the hills, so software compiled on them has to be backward compatible a long ways back.  Processors have improved quite a bit since the first 32bit processor, including new instructions.  If you have a 64bit processor, it is guaranteed to be quite a bit newer and therefor guaranteed to support most of the new instructions, so 64 bit software (including the OS) can take advantage of the new instructions.

The result of the new instructions and more memory does always feel a little snappier to me.

Christer wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 2:58pm:
You need 64-bit applications to harvest all the benefits.

True, but you don't need 64bit applications to harvest SOME of the benefits, and most 32bit applications run just fine without any modification.

Christer wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 3:59pm:
It appears like I have done some homework and I have learnt that the 2 GB limit per 32-bit application is a limit imposed by Windows.

It's a limit imposed by 32 bit memory addresses.  With only 32 bits, you can only address about 3.2GB of memory.  You can have more memory than that, but your processor can't address it, and therefor can't use it.  64 bit addressing allows for Petabytes of memory addresses.

NightOwl wrote on Jun 8th, 2010 at 6:53pm:
I am also considering just installing WinXP for now

I like WinXP, and Vista was a flop, but Win7 is a really nice OS.  Coming from a Linux fan-boy, this should not be taken lightly.  I like Win7.  It has a great user experience. 

Plus, support for XP will be ending soon, which means no more security patches.  We can't hide in our old trusty XP shells forever, and fortunately, Win7 is a worthy replacement.

Maybe you could dual-boot.  Win7 uses NTFS, so the disks would be readable in both OS's.  It might be a slight inconvenience to reboot to use your printer or scanner, but I think Win7 is worth some mild inconvenience.  Plus, when you get around to upgrading your old hardware, the transition will be smooth this way.
 
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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #6 - Jun 10th, 2010 at 3:35am
 
MrMagoo,

Quote:
Quote:
It appears like I have done some homework and I have learnt that the 2 GB limit per 32-bit application is a limit imposed by Windows.

It's a limit imposed by 32 bit memory addresses.  With only 32 bits, you can only address about 3.2GB of memory.  You can have more memory than that, but your processor can't address it, and therefor can't use it.  64 bit addressing allows for Petabytes of memory addresses.

It seems like we're talking past eachother. I'm aware of the 32-bit memory limit of 2^32 making it 4 GB. The graphics card and other "on-board memory" is addressed first, reducing the amount available to the OS and applications.

However, I found information saying that Windows will not assign more than 2 GB to a 32-bit application. An example: After a reboot, my XP idles using ~200 MB (according to the Task Manager). If I had 4 GB RAM installed with 3.5 GB available, running a single 32-bit application would leave 1.3 GB free (3.5-2.0-0.2) if it used all the assigned RAM.

I'll try to find the information again which says that the operating system (Windows) limits the RAM assignment to each application.
 

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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #7 - Jun 10th, 2010 at 4:25am
 
Quote:
I'll try to find the information again which says that the operating system (Windows) limits the RAM assignment to each application.

I went google on Windows memory limitations and found Memory Limits for Windows Releases which is in "geek language". It seems like you can edit the registry to get 64-bit OS to assign 4 GB to a 32-bit process but out of the box, it only assigns 2 GB.

I read somewhere else that each 32-bit process runs as if it had exclusive access to all 4 GB but if Windows only assigns 2 GB in RAM, the balance is paged out to the pagefile.

I also read that 64-bit Office 2010 makes it possible to create spreadsheets in Excel larger than 2 GB which is the limit in 32-bit Office versions. As I understand it, this would require the registry edit mentioned above.

A "normal" user will never reach the 2 GB limit, I think, unless multitasking several 32-bit applications forcing Windows to limit RAM assignment even further. More multitasking can be done on a 64-bit OS with more than 4 GB RAM.

Maybe Dan can elaborate on this?
 

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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #8 - Jun 10th, 2010 at 5:10pm
 
Christer wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 3:35am:
It seems like we're talking past eachother.

You're right there.  I was referring to the 4GB limit on the OS, not memory limits on individual applications.  Sorry for the confusion.
 
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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #9 - Jun 11th, 2010 at 8:55am
 
I seem to recall seeing a benchmark report suggesting that on average 64-bit Windows delivers a 10% performance improvement over 32-bit Windows.  Not a huge difference, but nonetheless meaningful.  I believe the difference is due to the simple fact that fully utilizing the 64-bit potential of the processor(s) increases throughput (i.e., instructions per clock cycle), regardless of whether the application is 32-bit or native 64-bit.

Additionally, from a security perspective, it appears that 64-bit Windows is more immune to malware attacks than 32-bit Windows.
 

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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #10 - Jun 11th, 2010 at 10:34am
 
Quote:
Additionally, from a security perspective, it appears that 64-bit Windows is more immune to malware attacks than 32-bit Windows.

A factor not to be neglected. Maybe this can make a difference regarding not being infected before the malware companies have identified a specific threat.
 

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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #11 - Jun 11th, 2010 at 8:00pm
 
Christer wrote:
    "Maybe Dan can elaborate on this?"
I have no experience with 64-bit apps.  I am using 64-bit Win7 on a couple of my computers, but I am using my old 32-bit apps with it.  I have no 64-bit apps at all.

I also have 32-bit Win7 on a couple machines, so I have been able to directly compare the same 32-bit apps on both 32- and 64-bit Win7.  From that experience I have been able to conclude that the 64-bit OS is less compatible with my existing hardware and software than the 32-bit version.

Christer wrote:
    "More multitasking can be done on a 64-bit OS with more than 4 GB RAM."
That's what I presume.  If more memory is available to the OS, it can give each 32-bit app the memory it needs without having to go to the pagefile.

But the user is only going to notice a difference if they're multitasking to the extent they need more than 4GB to begin with.  If you only run a few apps simultaneously, or if you run a lot of apps that don't need gobs of memory, then 4GB probably isn't limiting you.

I think the typical user isn't being cramped by 4GB.  You can check how much memory you're using by looking under Task Manager's [Performance] tab.  The value of "Physical Memory", "Available" will go up/down as you open/close apps, so you can check how close you're getting to your machine's limit.

Pleonasm wrote:
    "I seem to recall seeing a benchmark report suggesting that on average 64-bit Windows delivers a 10% performance improvement over 32-bit Windows."
What were they testing?  Were they comparing the same 32-bit app on 32-vs-64 Windows?  Or were they comparing a 64-bit app on a 64-bit OS vs a 32-bit app on a 32-bit OS?

Also, it's important to define in what context that 10% is being measured.  What was improved by 10%?  Overall, or just number-crunching time?  Since the "feel" of an app is usually heavily influenced by disk access, it's hard for me to imagine the typical user is even going to be able to tell the difference of a 32-bit app on 32-bit Win7 vs the same 32-bit on 64-bit win7.

Pleonasm wrote:
    "I believe the difference is due to the simple fact that fully utilizing the 64-bit potential of the processor(s) increases throughput (i.e., instructions per clock cycle), regardless of whether the application is 32-bit or native 64-bit."
That's hard for me to understand.  If a 32-bit program's code is using 32-bit instructions, I don't see how there would be any significant difference in how fast it runs on a 64-bit OS vs a 32-bit OS.  IOW, I don't believe a 32-bit app can "fully utilize the 64-bit potential of the processor."

Pleonasm wrote:
    "Additionally, from a security perspective, it appears that 64-bit Windows is more immune to malware attacks than 32-bit Windows."
That's correct.  And also part of what makes things incompatible.  64-bit Vista/Win7 demand special permissions for certain operations that 32-bit apps have not customarily worried about.  That's also what malware takes advantage of in 32-bit Windows.  64-bit Vista/Win7 clamp down on that, which not only helps stave off some malware, but also breaks certain 32-bit apps.

OTOH, makers of third-party security apps are up in arms because that same clampdown shuts them out, too.  Since they can't insert themselves in the kernel processes, they're limited in their ability to monitor for viruses.




 
 
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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #12 - Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:52am
 
Dan,

Quote:
From that experience I have been able to conclude that the 64-bit OS is less compatible with my existing hardware and software than the 32-bit version.

The experience my friend (who went from XP to W7 and skipped Vista) has made with his new W7-64 system is that there are drivers and utilities for his printer and photo-scanner but he has to buy a new flatbed-scanner. It seems like manufacturers draw a line at a certain age when they decide to provide new drivers or not. In the application department, some small apps don't work under W7-64 but others do or there are new versions compatible with W7. From what I've read, those that don't work under W7-64 wouldn't work under W7-32 either. One example is the software for his Nikon camera ... Lips Sealed ... and Nikon are extremely proficient in hiding stuff on their homepage.

Quote:
I think the typical user isn't being cramped by 4GB.  You can check how much memory you're using by looking under Task Manager's [Performance] tab.  The value of "Physical Memory", "Available" will go up/down as you open/close apps, so you can check how close you're getting to your machine's limit.

Neither do I believe that 4 GB RAM will be less than I need but if I start with 4 GB and should notice that my system would benefit from an additional 4 GB, then "additional" doesn't seem to be an option these days. On my old computer, I can mix not only sizes and versions (Double Sided vs Single Sided) but even from different manufacturers, no problems. Nowadays I read about people getting into trouble when adding an "identical" 4 GB kit (2x2 GB) to an existing one (using all four RAM slots). The solution is to scrap the existing 4 GB kit and to get an 8 GB kit which could be a 4x2 GB kit, as long as the modules have been tested together. Therefore I'd like to get it right from the start.
 

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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #13 - Jun 12th, 2010 at 5:02pm
 
Christer wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:52am:
In the application department, some small apps don't work under W7-64 but others do or there are new versions compatible with W7. From what I've read, those that don't work under W7-64 wouldn't work under W7-32 either.

My experience shows otherwise.  As I mentioned, my older versions of Quicken will not install on 64-bit Win7, but install and work just fine on 32-bit Win7.  Colleagues have discovered similar traits with QuickBooks and TurboTax.  I've also run across similar behavior on some apps for real estate agents I support, as well as some obscure apps and script files I still make use of.  They work on 32-bit Win7 but not on the 64-bit version.

Old versions of Quicken and QuickBooks can still be perfectly usable.  Older versions of TurboTax may not be of interest to most people, but I support some accountants that on occasion have needed to revisit a tax return using one of those old versions.

While Intuit has newer versions they'd like to sell you, that doesn't change the fact that 64-bit Win7 is less compatible than 32-bit Win7 is with the hardware and software people might already own.

 
 
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Re: Win7 OS--64 Bit vs 32 Bit!
Reply #14 - Jun 13th, 2010 at 12:13pm
 
Dan,
I guess you're right, when speaking in general terms. I related my friends experience with a few applications which, by the provider, was said to be "not compatible with Windows 7".
 

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