Computers have increased in speed and capacity in the last decade, gone are the days of 16-bit where users didn’t have the flexibility we enjoy today. There were even statements made that 32-bit Operating systems will forever be a dream, but Microsoft made that come true with Windows 95 and till this date, most of us use 32-bit Operating Systems. 64-bit has been around for a long time but has recently become very popular, thanks to affordable prices and increasing consumer demand. In this post, I am going to discuss about the primary differences between 32-bit and 64-bit computing, features exclusive to 64-bit computers and the compatibility issues that may show up when you migrate to this newer platform.
32-bit or 64-bit refers to the way your processor handles data. A 64-bit computer will be able to handle more data at a given time when compared to a 32-bit computer; this means that resource heavy applications will run better on 64-bit computers compared to the 32-bit ones.
64-bit computers can handle more than 4GB of RAM; this will be very useful to gamers who expect top performance. Most of the software designed to run with 32-bit PC’s run on 64-bit ones too, but, there might be a performance lag. I.e. Software made for 32-bit computers might run slowly on 64-bit computers mainly due to the additional overhead required to run 32-bit software. To make full use of a 64-bit processor it is recommended that you have 64-bit versions of the software you use.
64-bit computing also has its share of ‘cons’. It cannot run 32&64 bit mixed processes like running a 32-bit ActiveX module in 64-bit Internet Explorer or using 32-bit installer programs to load 64-bit DLL’s. 16-bit programs will NOT run on 64-bit machines (This will seem like a real problem, only if you use programs from the Windows 3.1 days). Apart from these, you won’t be able to run your hardware with 32-bit drivers.
If you are looking to migrate to 64-bit computing, make sure that
- you have new peripherals for which 64-bit drivers are available
- most of the software you use has a 64-bit version
- You buy a new PC (just upgrading your motherboard and processor might cause a lot of trouble).
If you have a 64-bit computer but older hardware, it’s better to use 32-bit Operating systems for now. Remember, 32-bit is now slowly becoming obsolete and most of the software vendors are keeping 64-bit processors in mind. Moreover, Microsoft is gearing up for 128-bit support for Windows 8 which means that 64-bit might become outdated by the end of this decade.
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