Are Users Ready For 64-bit in Prime Time?


64-bit operating systems are certainly nothing new and when they first launched they weren’t even highly anticipated. Windows XP Professional x64 Edition only created a small amount of excitement and that died a quick death when the complaints about driver issues, Windows Explorer bugs in 64-bit mode, and 16-bit programs being unsupported started to roll in.

It was just too green to be of any real use to me, despite my 64-bit processor. I love to tinker with my PC, but I also want it to be stable and work well with lots of peripherals.

With the release of Service Pack 1 for Vista I decided to give it another try with my workstation and was pleasantly surprised, both by Vista (not the evil, vile monster it was at launch) and 64-bit computing. It seems that others are beginning to share that feeling.

Microsoft says that the percentage of 64-bit PCs connecting to Windows Update has more than tripled in the U.S. in the last three months and worldwide adoption has more than doubled during the same period.  About 20% of new Windows Vista PCs in the U.S. connecting to Windows Update in June were 64-bit PCs that is up from 3% in March. Usage is growing more rapidly that the 32-bit versions of Vista.

Driving this upswing in 64-bit operating systems is that drivers for 64-bit are so much easier to find now and the issues with 16-bit software are non-existent for many (and really, if your still using 16-bit software you should look around for what is new). Also with memory so dirt cheap right now many users are seeking systems in excess of 4 Gigabytes, which 32-bit operating systems do not support. It may also be an attempt to future proof their systems.

We can count on the compatibility and performance of 64-bit PCs to continue to expand and improve. The 32-bit emulation in Windows Vista called WOW64 works well with most 32-bit software. There are certainly still gaps in software but that will get better once more 64-bit PCs are in service.

It looks like 64-bit is finally coming into its own. While high end applications like Photoshop and Video editing software will be a draw for Windows 64-bit operating systems for the masses, it has been enthusiasts that have pushed the envelope and demand to get it to a point where it is ready for acceptance by everyday users.

Have you made the jump to 64-bit and if so, what do you think about it?

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