Microsoft: 46% Windows 7 installations are 64-bit

By on July 9, 2010, 1:47 PM
For the first time in history, 64-bit operating systems are gaining serious traction with the arrival of Windows 7. In a blog post today, Microsoft revealed that 46% of Windows 7 users are running a 64-bit version, which compares to only 11% of those on Vista and less than 1% on XP. Steam recently released stats showing an even higher adoption rate among its customers, with around two times more people running Windows 7 x64 than x86.

OEMs have finally embraced the architecture, with some converting their entire consumer lineups to 64-bit-only machines. NPD says that 77% of retail PCs sold in the US during April 2010 ran the updated architecture but it's not just end users buying into 64-bit computing.

Gartner estimates that 75% of all businesses will ditch 32-bit systems by 2014, and Intel recently migrated to a 64-bit environment to take advantage of features such as support for more than 4GB of RAM and additional security benefits.

Are you among the 54% on a 32-bit copy of Windows 7? What's stopping you from making the switch? If you're teetering on the fence about what version of Windows to install, we have a quick overview of the topic here.




User Comments: 39

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KG363 KG363 said:

Why do they even sell x86?

dustin_ds3000 dustin_ds3000, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

kg363 said:

Why do they even sell x86?

because they can still make money from it

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

some people don't need 4+ GB of RAM and use older hardware...

this sounds like more people are just buying more 64-bit systems, because I haven't seen a good deal of 32-bit systems for sale lately; even the majority of laptops with Win7 are x64. it may also have to do with stability. Windows 7 64-bit is much more stable than Vista and let's be serious... WinXP x64 was a joke.

Timonius Timonius said:

A quick look at my local DIY computer store shows that I could only really buy 64-bit cpus. Better off just going x64 already.

LightHeart said:

I made the x64 switch at home when going to Windows 7 (both disks (x86/x64) came with the upgrade). We have been runing x64 at work on systems for some time, though of course we still have some x86 only systems. Overall I'm very happy with x64.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Been doing x64 for nearly 3 years starting with Vista. I'm frankly surprised it took this long for acceptance, because the technology has been around for quite a while.

Staff
Jos Jos said:

Same here Tom, I've been running a 64-bit OS for two years now (currently Win 7) and I don't think I've had any major software compatibility problems.

Guest said:

Bought the Win 7 Pro upgrade version for $99 during the Beta testing. Don't have a 64-bit version to upgrade from, so am stuck with 32-bit. Otherwise I would be using 64-bit.

Guest said:

I put Windows 7 32 Bit on my wifes netbook with 2 GB of RAM. I saw no sense in putting a 64 bit OS on it.

poundsmack said:

Microsoft shouldn't have let the OEM's even sell a 32 bit version. I know the Atom's at the time weren't 64 bit, but that should have been the only exception. a lot of the consumer grade dell's and other OEM machines have 32 bit windows systems installed where there shouldn't be, it hinders 64 bit adoption.

making retail copies of 32 bit windows 7 available is fine, MS doesn't sell nearly as many retail copies of windows as they do through the OEM channels.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

- "Are you among the 54% on a 32-bit copy of Windows 7? What's stopping you from making the switch?"

In my case the decision was quite simple, Microsoft offered me a Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit only license code from their tech conference. And that's what I'm using.

Had I purchased Windows 7 it probably would have been 64-bit. But the reason that I don't bother going out and purchasing th3 64-bit version has little to do with the money, and more to do with how Windows 7 32-bit installs to a smaller foot print on disk and I enjoy the extra room on my hard drive for games.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I switched to x64 architecture ages ago with the incarnation of XP x64; hence, I really haven't used any x86 OS in years now, its been generally good, hassle free ride for me.

teklord teklord said:

Windows 7 x64 works well for me. Like it recognizing over 3.5 GB of RAM, not sure what the other differences are. It's time for the world to move towards 64-bit OS anywho.

Badfinger said:

Long time coming, why aren't we at 128 bit OS's by now is a better ??

At this rate I won't live to see 256-bit OS'n mega scream machines!

Guest said:

There is absolutely no point for the general home user in installing 64 bit.

It runs slower than 32 bit and there are some hardware driver issues but nothing to get worried about. Another pointless "advance" that does not advance anything but make more sales to a world knee deep in "old" hardware that otherwise still works.

UglyChild said:

Guest said:

1. There is absolutely no point for the general home user in installing 64 bit.

2. It runs slower than 32 bit and there are some hardware driver issues but nothing to get worried about.

3. Another pointless "advance" that does not advance anything but make more sales to a world knee deep in "old" hardware that otherwise still works.

Wrong, Wrong,... and Wrong again!

64Bit is the future. Everything eventually will become 64Bit, then much later in the future, it will become 128Bit, and etc etc.

Its faster, its better, and there are no issues. It just works!

treeski treeski said:

I was running 64-bit Vista and I stayed with 64-bit for 7. I've got 6GB of ram, so no other alternative really. I was actually a bit surprised that the percentage of 64-bit users isn't higher. I personally don't know anyone who is running 32-bit 7.

j4m32 said:

@UglyChild:

You're not wrong, just not right in a few places.

What you've said is largely true for anyone who doesn't:

1. own a camera or other media device that is over 1 or 2 years old which tend not to have even 32 or 64bit drivers.

2. if you're not running any business software which has to be executed in 16bit

3. or if you're not NASA...

My Samsung NV30 digital camera drivers, REFUSE to operate on 64bit Windows, because of 16bit drivers due of the way 64bit protected mode works it cannot execute the 16bit driver for the USB interface device.

So what is the customer forced to use? Yes that's right 32bit windows. The camera series is about two years old, but I've only had it from new for a year.

Vista x64 existed back then, but the low adoption due to teething problems meant drivers were not made.

I'm just lucky I have a laptop, which would probably cripple under 64bit with a mobility AMD Turion 1.8GHz processor so I use that for the Camera... A normal non-tech consumer might be faced with dumping it and getting a new one.

That is unless you feel up to rewriting a 16bit driver to 32/64bit for it to work without source you have to work from the disassembly of the driver... No thanks, I have a life.

I don't think 64bit will become a wide spread reality for all sectors since it's not practical for all, it has its place and use - like Linux and UNIX.

Example: NASA use out of date systems because they know all the faults and life span of older hardware for reliability and stability sake.

Otherwise, yes 64bit does have its numerous advantages, personally I have had far less blue screens, greater stability and more RAM than I've seen in my life on a Desktop system WITH modern hardware - and that's the catch, many cannot justify the upgrade of hardware for the minimal benefits they would receive from 64bit.

As for 128bit knocking around at AMD from what I've read,

128bit instructions with some insane SSE copy speeds etc.

Jim,

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

I was running a Windows 7 64 but switched back to 32 due to only having 2gb of ram. Unfortunately my motherboard is an early ddr3 board and I can't find compatible memory anymore without spending the same as a new system.

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

i still run 32-bit stuff at home, but my main machine is 64-bit Windows 7. if i have under 4GB RAM whatever, 32-bit is fine, but for the most part i've fully adopted 64-bit with Win7. I skipped Vista altogether and I had 64-bit XP but that just crashed all day long.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate will run on even 1GB of RAM. Those who just ditch it because of 2GB, then you either got a slow HDD or the system isn't fully tweaked. The rest of my system are Q-Core 64-bit they all run 7/64/U on some laptops. The rest run 7/32/U

UglyChild said:

j4m32 said:

What you've said is largely true for anyone who doesn't:

1. own a camera or other media device that is over 1 or 2 years old which tend not to have even 32 or 64bit drivers.

2. if you're not running any business software which has to be executed in 16bit

3. or if you're not NASA...

My Samsung NV30 digital camera drivers, REFUSE to operate on 64bit Windows, because of 16bit drivers due of the way 64bit protected mode works it cannot execute the 16bit driver for the USB interface device

Jim,

Perhaps its time you bought a new camera buddy. It is year 2010 *wink*. And there is a cheaper solution as a card reader for under $10.

Many, not most, but many people now days, love to post youtube videos of them sefls on .. YouTube. Some of those videos have to be encoded, or rein-coded. A 64Bit Audio-Video Software, combined with 64Bit OS, will get the job much quicker, so the world of youtube can be filled faster with more .. umm.. fun things to watch.

You dont have to be part of NASA, or have a business, but there are every day software's that come in 64 bit flavors; AntiVirus, Internet Surfing Software like FireFox, or IE8. You want to watch your Movies? No problem, you got 64Bit flavored Software for that as well.

No as far as drivers, thats another story.

As the old story goes, and its a very simple one. Manufacturers of hardware have to pay extra $$ to M$ to get permission to make 64Bit drivers. Now making those 64 Bit drives is not a whole lot more complicated then it is making drivers in 32Bit flavor. It just takes a little more time.

For most part, most major Manufacturers have drivers ready in 64Bit flavor almost at the same time as 32Bit drivers are. They just have to transfer few thousand $$ to M$ bank account.

The list goes on and on why we should move towards 64Bit, and the faster we do, the more we will enjoy our current PC that was made to support 64Bit many many years ago.

UglyChild said:

Another thing that many people seem to misunderstand.

Just because you have less then 4GB, does not meant you shouldnt use 64Bit OS. Its ok to have less then 4GB of RAM and use 64BIt OS at the same time.

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

that's true, because most laptops with 64-bit operating systems ship with either 2 or 3GB, but if i'm gonna install the OS myself on a computer i don't plan on updating past 3GB i'm probably just gonna go with 32-bit. you're not really going to benefit from installing x64 stuff on a 1 or 2GB machine...

Guest said:

Seems that this discussion misses some technical details.

RAM:

The number 1 reason for going 64bit is RAM. 32bit Windows can only *address* (aka 'use') about 3.2-3.5 GB of RAM, and on systems with GPUs that have a large amount of dedicated RAM this number can even drop to 2.x GB. This has to do with the address space.

However, 64bit Windows and 64bit programs usually use more RAM than their 32bit versions - this is due to the smallest available data unit being 64bit instead of 32bit, twice the size! *Some* data structures (not the application as a whole) will occupy up to twice as much memory as 64bit version (compared to 32bit) - I don't have any real world numbers for common applications or the Windows core system, but the factor is surely far below the theoretical value of 2x.

Another restriction is that on 32bit Windows a single process can only allocate up to 2 GB memory maximum.

So 64bit Windows is required on systems with more than 4 GB, and/or systems with less than 4 GB depending on the hardware setup in order to be able to actually *use* all of the installed memory.

On systems with 3-4 GB the increased memory consumption of applications might outweigh the benefit of allowing to use all of the installed RAM.

Performance:

64bit software does not magically improve performance, software has to be optimized for 64bit, and significant improvements can only be expected for certain CPU intensive tasks. Adobe Photoshop states that it speeds up 'only some operations' and those not 'equally', and gives a figure of 8-12%.

At the same time 32bit software will be executed in the WoW (Windows on Windows) environment, and run up to 10% slower on 64bit Windows 7 due to the management overhead.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Seems that this discussion misses some technical details.

RAM:.....[ ]....

However, 64bit Windows and 64bit programs usually use more RAM than their 32bit versions - this is due to the smallest available data unit being 64bit instead of 32bit, twice the size! *Some* data structures (not the application as a whole) will occupy up to twice as much memory as 64bit version (compared to 32bit) - I don't have any real world numbers for common applications or the Windows core system, but the factor is surely far below the theoretical value of 2x.

Here I suppose, it could be argued that while twice the memory is being used, it would only be used for half the time. (If all went well, or as planned).

Another restriction is that on 32bit Windows a single process can only allocate up to 2 GB memory maximum..
Google "4 GB tuning".

So 64bit Windows is required on systems with more than 4 GB, and/or systems with less than 4 GB depending on the hardware setup in order to be able to actually *use* all of the installed memory..
This could be only partly true. Since x86 applications are installed as such, I don't see them not being able to benefit from the increased RAM.

Performance:

64bit software does not magically improve performance, software has to be optimized for 64bit, and significant improvements can only be expected for certain CPU intensive tasks. Adobe Photoshop states that it speeds up 'only some operations' and those not 'equally', and gives a figure of 8-12%.

At the same time 32bit software will be executed in the WoW (Windows on Windows) environment, and run up to 10% slower on 64bit Windows 7 due to the management overhead.

Adobe likes to hear itself talk, while making excuses for it's rampant bloatware. However, I've seen it written that Adobe "Premier Pro", is actually capable of lighting up all four cores of a quad CPU.

The fact of the matter is, that software houses will have to "get cracking" on implementing 64 bit instructions. All Intel CPUs since "Cedar Mill" are x64 capable. Cedar Mill CPUs are for all intents and purposes, antiques. Now, it's not like the software houses haven't been given plenty of time and warning to get on with 64 bit programming.

UglyChild said:

Guest said:

Seems that this discussion misses some technical details.

RAM:

The number 1 reason for going 64bit is RAM. 32bit Windows can only *address* (aka 'use' about 3.2-3.5 GB of RAM, and on systems with GPUs that have a large amount of dedicated RAM this number can even drop to 2.x GB. This has to do with the address space.

However, 64bit Windows and 64bit programs usually use more RAM than their 32bit versions - this is due to the smallest available data unit being 64bit instead of 32bit, twice the size! *Some* data structures (not the application as a whole) will occupy up to twice as much memory as 64bit version (compared to 32bit) - I don't have any real world numbers for common applications or the Windows core system, but the factor is surely far below the theoretical value of 2x.

Another restriction is that on 32bit Windows a single process can only allocate up to 2 GB memory maximum.

So 64bit Windows is required on systems with more than 4 GB, and/or systems with less than 4 GB depending on the hardware setup in order to be able to actually *use* all of the installed memory.

On systems with 3-4 GB the increased memory consumption of applications might outweigh the benefit of allowing to use all of the installed RAM.

Performance:

64bit software does not magically improve performance, software has to be optimized for 64bit, and significant improvements can only be expected for certain CPU intensive tasks. Adobe Photoshop states that it speeds up 'only some operations' and those not 'equally', and gives a figure of 8-12%.

At the same time 32bit software will be executed in the WoW (Windows on Windows) environment, and run up to 10% slower on 64bit Windows 7 due to the management overhead.

The 64Bit OS doesnt need to have 4GB RAM or more to see the benefit.

Think of a garden hose you are trying to water your plants with that is 32Bit in diameter . Now imagine watering your garden with a fire hose which is 64Bit in diameter.

Apple OS has been 64Bit for many years, and people that use Apple OS seen the benefit from the very beginning, before the 4GB became the norm, many many years ago. Before Apple offered more then 2GB of RAM on Apple PC with 64Bit OS.

Guest said:

Bought a new laptop which ran off x64 and the main reason I bought it was to watch sky sports in the kitchen which needed flashplayer x10.1. However, flash 10.1 is not compatible using x64. So I had to return to x32

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Guest said:

flash 10.1 is not compatible using x64. So I had to return to x32

I see this written on many forums, it is very strange so many people believe this because it's simply not true

Adobe does not have a x64 version of flash out, true, so you can't watch flash in Internet Explorer 64 bit

But the 32bit browser (which is the standard one) works just fine

And all the other browsers out there are 32bit, in which Flash works just fine (Opera, Firefox Google Chrome etc)

There are some testing versions that are 64bit but you wont find those on the normal download pages

I've been running 64bit Windows for many years now, I prefer the simplicity of Windows XP x64 actually, it is a very nice OS IMO

mistaecko said:

Here I suppose, it could be argued that while twice the memory is being used, it would only be used for half the time. (If all went well, or as planned).

No. That's not how software/compilers and CPUs work. A 64bit environment does not allow data to be processed twice as fast. It allows higher precision numbers, and more effective processing where 32bit data structures are too small, but not in general.

Google articles that do performance comparisons and you will find performance improvements of about average 10% for calculation heavy applications (encoding, archive packing, scientific calculating) and benchmarks.

mistaecko said: "Another restriction is that on 32bit Windows a single process can only allocate up to 2 GB memory maximum.."

Google "4 GB tuning".

Yes, you are correct. But this is something that requires modification of the Windows kernel and/or executables on non-server versions of Windows AFAIK. Just enabling the /3GB switch will not improve anything, on the contrary, it limits Windows to 1GB kernel space.

Anyway, for standard users the 4GB OS limit is usually more important than the limit per process.

This could be only partly true. Since x86 applications are installed as such, I don't see them not being able to benefit from the increased RAM.

I think you missed my main point: 32-bit Windows (non-server editions) can only address 2^32=4GB of 'address space'. The amount of RAM Windows can *address* is further reduced because a fair amount of this address space above 3 GB is used for hardware addressing. Please note that I'm talking about address space, not actual RAM. So the problem is that your PC might have more RAM, but the system has run out of 'address space' to actually access it.

This is most obvious when you have a video card with let's say 1 GB dedicated memory. In order to allow Windows drivers to address/access this memory, 1 GB of address space is cut off the 4 GB totally available address space, allowing the OS and its applications to use 3GB of physical memory (or even less).

I recommend the wikipedia articles on '64-bit' and 'Physical Address Extension' for an introduction to the technical aspects of 32-bit vs 64-bit.

mistaecko

mistaecko said:

The 64Bit OS doesnt need to have 4GB RAM or more to see the benefit.

Think of a garden hose you are trying to water your plants with that is 32Bit in diameter . Now imagine watering your garden with a fire hose which is 64Bit in diameter.

Apple OS has been 64Bit for many years, and people that use Apple OS seen the benefit from the very beginning, before the 4GB became the norm, many many years ago. Before Apple offered more then 2GB of RAM on Apple PC with 64Bit OS.

Sorry, we are not talking about a memory bus here, where your analogy would maybe fit.

Let's rather compare it to a school kitchen handing out food on dinner plates: if you change the size of the plates then you will not necessarily speed up the whole process. If some of the kids are very hungry and usually required more than one plate before, then you might achieve some improvement by handing out larger portions on one bigger plate. ;)

Guest said:

I have been running a 64bit since windows XP, why has it taken so long for people to get on the bandwagon.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Another restriction is that on 32bit Windows a single process can only allocate up to 2 GB memory maximum.

Yes, you are correct. But this is something that requires modification of the Windows kernel and/or executables on non-server versions of Windows AFAIK. Just enabling the /3GB switch will not improve anything, on the contrary, it limits Windows to 1GB kernel space.

Anyway, for standard users the 4GB OS limit is usually more important than the limit per process.

Actually I think most users that run into this limit do so with applications

Case in point are many recent games that will crash as soon as over 2GB are addressed in the virtual address space

Another example would be the CAD program I use at work, I ran into the limit so activated the 3GB switch and also modified the executable so it was actually able to make use of the new memory limit, these Anandtech articles are a great read on the subject; (In this order)

[link]

[link]

[link]

gobbybobby said:

PC came with 4 gig of ram and Windows vista ultimate on disk 32 bit only. Would be 64 if had disk!

mistaecko said:

Actually I think most users that run into this limit do so with applications

Case in point are many recent games that will crash as soon as over 2GB are addressed in the virtual address space

Another example would be the CAD program I use at work, I ran into the limit so activated the 3GB switch and also modified the executable so it was actually able to make use of the new memory limit, these Anandtech articles are a great read on the subject; (In this order)

Good to hear of actual experiences! But I wonder what your total system RAM is? Why did you not go with 64bit Windows - I assume you didn't upgrade to Windows 7 yet, right?

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Another example would be the CAD program I use at work, I ran into the limit so activated the 3GB switch and also modified the executable so it was actually able to make use of the new memory limit, these Anandtech articles are a great read on the subject; (In this order)

That was one major reason we switched to x64 OS on all CAD machines at work years ago. Just imagine, opening a very very large topograhic survey drawing on an x86 OS, and you'll know what i mean, because there is a good chance either your system will crash or it will slow down to a near grinding halt and even a simple task would take ages to complete. I don't need to add advantages we noticed with other softaware like SAP etc as well. Anyway, I think days of x86 OS are numbered, in fact it may be a good 'strategic' business decision on part of MS to outline its future strategy and prepare its customers/users to x86-less future, perhaps even scrapping any plans for x86 future windows, because it is not just worth it any more considering the rapid evolution of hardware and corresponding software.

timljh said:

there are still problems for software developers to adopt 64-bit many of the IDE are still in the 32-bit world... we as the developers are forced to do so in 32-bit....

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

mistaecko; my case on the games where from a perspective of testing mostly

I made a Win2K patch for Crysis

My gaming system has had 8GB RAM for 2 and a half years now, and I've been running Win XP x64 for as long

I've also run Vista x64 which I really didn't care for, so it saw little use

Now I do have Win 7 x64 installed but I have been too lazy to set it up the way I want, that's why I still dualboot to WinXP x64 instead... (Funilly I used the BETA version much more extensively but then when I switched to the final release I have been too lazy to set it up with all programs etc that I want...)

As for my work PC it was a Dell with XP x86 32bit, I told them I wanted to upgrade it to a 64bit OS but they where hesitating

However luck struck in a strange way when it's harddrive failed, then I got them to install XP x64 on it, and they also put another HDD in it and said I could install Win 7 x64 on it after some persistence on my part

I am happy that I managed to get all the CAD CAM programs I used to work, had to run without UAC tho, but for work Win7 really is miles better than XP, I can really notice myself how much more productive I am due to the new layout of stuff

And also the simple fact that it's also a x64 OS gives my 32bit CAD programs access to 4GB virtual address space, so now I can make more complex pieces

That is untill the software developer starts to listen to my request to make a real 64bit version so it can address however many terabytes virtual address space the 64bit OS allows

mistaecko said:

Thanks for the insight! I understand now that there are quite a view software fields where the 'per process' limit matters: CAD, 3D, games and probably others.

So having a PC with 3-4GB RAM and running software that requires more than the 2GB per process limit is a tough situation for sure. Switching to 64bit Windows 7 will allow the process to use more than 2GB without extra configuration or tweaking work, but will also have the whole system and applications use more memory due to the 64bit and/or the WoW overhead.

That is the interesting question to me, because the 3-4GB are still a very common configuration nowadays.

In such a situation both the 3GB switch or Windows XP 64bit seem to make more sense than Windows 7 64bit IMHO. Or rather upgrade to more than 4GB and go with the latter.

Sorry for my late response, have been busy.

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