The folks at CNet have put together an interesting piece regarding the dearth of device drivers available for 64-bit versions of Windows right now. According to Microsoft, one of the reasons behind that scarceness is the fact that mainstream users and even a large number of enthusiasts have little incentive to make the move to 64 bits now. Indeed, quoting CurrentAnalysisWest numbers, CNet says 73% of retail PCs sold today have 1GB to 2GB of RAM, while only 15% come with 3GB, and systems with 4GB of memory "barely register on the needle."
Microsoft Windows Group Director Barry Goffe believes the driver issue is now "already less of a gating factor," but that "the real issue that's in front of us around broad usage of 64-bit comes back to the applications." Goffe points out that there are few mainstream 64-bit apps around right now, and that the small 64-bit installed base creates "a little bit of a chicken and egg kind of thing."
CNet contrasts the Windows world's 64-bit woes with Apple's next version of MacOS X, code-named "Leopard", which will reportedly support both 32-bit and 64-bit drivers. Mercury Research analyst Dean McCarron tells CNet, "Some applications require the extra performance delivered by 64-bit drivers, but most don't, at least not right away." However, Barry Goffe retorts that the number of devices Apple has to deal with is much smaller than Microsoft's. "The problem they are trying to solve is a much smaller problem," he asserts.
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