Anyone who has made the switch to a 64-bit operating system will know most applications aren't 64-bit native yet. But things have been changing fast in the past year as users move to newer hardware and computer vendors push 64-bit systems with larger amounts of RAM by default. Microsoft has previously stated it expects the majority of Windows 7 installations to be 64-bit and now the company is apparently ready to move other software in that direction as well.
ZDNet's Ed Bott has done some digging around and reportedly found references to both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Office 14 inside the 'migwiz.xml' file that comes with post-beta builds of Windows 7. This appears to indicate that fully native 64-bit builds of Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Publisher, Visio, and Word are on the way as an option when Office 14 goes live. In addition, the file points out the ability to upgrade from either Office 2003 or 2007 to Office 14 in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors.
Regardless of how much or little effect this will have on the suite, performance-wise, it could encourage more software developers to start developing their own 64-bit applications too. The fact that these codes are to be implemented in the final release of Windows 7 later this year also confirms Microsoft’s plans to release Office 14 in early 2010, according to Bott.