Microsoft: We’ve reached the 64-bit tipping point

Over five years after the launch of the first x86-64 desktop CPU, 64-bit versions of Windows are finally poised to take over. DailyTech got the scoop from several sources inside Microsoft, one of which said over 25% of Vista installations in the U.S. were 64-bit at the end of 2008.

The site also spoke to Windows VP Jon DeVaan, who noted the following about the transition:

From our point of view we believe that we have accomplished the tipping point in terms of 64-bit adoption. Now, this happened to a large degree because memory prices are coming down, and another dynamic that we’ve seen in the United States is that the retail channel is looking to use RAM upgrades as a way to boost margin. So what that means is that 64-bit machine run rate is increasing rapidly, and that means our ability to support those 64-bit machines fully in the broad ecosystem is a really important thing.

Another Microsoft executive, Windows Clients Communications Director Chris Flores, commented, “Usage of 64-bit Windows Vista is growing much more rapidly than 32-bit. Based on current trends, this growth will accelerate as the retail channel shifts to supplying a rapidly increasing assortment of 64-bit desktops and laptops.”

DailyTech expects most installations of Windows 7 to be 64-bit. Indeed, offering 64-bit systems exclusively would likely cut costs for PC vendors, since they’d have to deal with fewer versions of the same system and fewer drivers. Windows 7 may come out by the holiday season.

Comments closed
    • axeman
    • 11 years ago

    Software vendors suck. Neither Cisco or Checkpoint has released a 64-bit Windows compatible version of their firewall clients. This is a significant barrier to adoption for many business users.

    • henfactor
    • 11 years ago

    Awesome, now when do we see the 128-bit?

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Approximately never. Or, since 2001, depending on how you look at it.

      Not for a long (never-ish) time, because a 64bit virtual address space will last a /[

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    There is no quicktime patch for any Windows 64-bit system. So if you use any 64-bit machine and have quicktime installed with mime types at default, you are vulnerable to any number of zero-daysg{<.<}g

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Yet Another good reason not to install Quicktime.

    • SGT Lindy
    • 11 years ago

    “Another Microsoft executive, Windows Clients Communications Director Chris Flores, commented, “Usage of 64-bit Windows Vista is growing much more rapidly than 32-bit”

    No shit when you jam it up consumers asses 64bit will be adopted more rapidly. Just go into best buy and look at new PC’s, most come with 64bit only. Its not like users really have a choice.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      And the alternative would be having all those consumers complaining because they bought a machine with 4+GB of memory and their 32bit OS doesn’t allow them to use it.

        • axeman
        • 11 years ago

        Probably not as many as you think, most people wouldn’t even know how to check. But enough that the OEMs will just go 64bit and be done with it.

    • just brew it!
    • 11 years ago

    I wonder what the stats are for 64-bit uptake among the Linux community? Driver and application support seems to be similar to 32-bit (which when you think about it, makes sense since most of the apps and drivers are Open Source).

    • blubje
    • 11 years ago

    since no one’s brought it up: I think the operating system should support *more*, not less architectures. the fewer it supports, the more custom hacks are introduced, and it becomes difficult to imagine transition to something like a parallel risc processor (imagine windows on the xbox…).

    imo the real solution is not for msft to drop 32b but rather to have *one* install disc which will install the correct version of the kernel — i.e. 64 bit *if* the machine is capable.

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      That’s not within the necessary definition of an operating system though, and not necessary marketing-wise either. And it’s not as simple as replacing the kernel.

        • blubje
        • 11 years ago

        you’re correct, my usage of kernel vs os was sloppy, I meant the entire thing [os] being 64b in the second para.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      There’s no certainty that being cross-platform eliminates hackish code — it just gets moved into the architecture-specific parts of the codebase (which always exist). But yes, having to support additional architectures can stop you from falling down special-case rabbit holes when you should be solving a problem in a more generalized way, and somewhat inoculates you from getting screwed over by changes in direction by your CPU vendor. But it doesn’t in itself make your code better.

      Windows NT actually supported and ran on MIPS, Alpha, and x86 for most of the 90s. The Server versions still run on Itanium.

      But why do you think Windows on the XBox would be anything special? The XBox CPU is a tri-core with coarse SMT; the Core i7 is a quad-core with fine-grained SMT. Windows Server supports 32 logical processors today (Win7/Server2K8 R2 will support 64+) but of course actually taking advantage of all those cores is mostly an application programmer’s problem. There are various interesting approaches to massively multicore computing (transactional memory, the scout threads in Sun’s Rock, and so on) but none of them are yet proven in non-experimental products from anybody. A lot of people are throwing a lot of smart, expensive brains at the problem but nobody really knows the right way forward. And when that right way emerges, it likely won’t be from any of the commercial OS vendors, or even from Linux. It’ll be some little group that nobody is paying attention to that figures out how to do things in a completely different way.

        • blubje
        • 11 years ago

        true, and x86 vs x86_64 probably isn’t night and day. Maybe Linux is a much better example. The Xbox CPU has fewer resources (no out of order execution iirc), and there are essentially 6 hardware threads to manage, and that was however many years ago. It’s not only required parallelism but the demand for extremely reliable scheduling and less powerful resources. Maybe you’re right about a small group discovering a better way; msft does seem to get itself in bad situations by requiring legacy support.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 11 years ago

    I wish MS would just dump anything 32-bit OS wise. I am running Windows 7 beta x64 and everything non 32 bit seems to work fine. Hell Fallout 2 and Freespace 2 run perfect and those are DOS and Win95 games.

    With 512MB and 1GB video cards and RAM being as cheap as it is (8GB of Patriot DDR2-1066 for $110~) only moving to a 64 bit OS makes sense. Apple pulled it off with the System 9 to OS X change, I am pretty sure MS can do the same thing for x32 to x64.

    It’s time to move on, and as Cyril wrote, how old is the A64?

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Unfortunately, the universe of apps and hardware isn’t limited to just what you’ve tried. And there are some of both that don’t work (see elsewhere in this thread), which makes it hard for them to pull the plug. I think you can make the argument that most of the customers with those legacy apps/devices probably won’t buy a new version of an OS anyway, even in 32bit form, but it still requires a serious gut-check for MS to make that decision.

      Apple pulled off the OSX transition because the universe of things they had to support was much smaller, and many of the most important pieces of it (hardware and software) were entirely under their control. And even then it was hardly flawless, but the eternally-forgiving Apple faithful were much more willing to take that (and ask for more) than the ever argumentative (if not hostile) PC user base ever would.

      Speaking of which, Apple actually is kind of faking it with the 32bit to x64 transition on OSX: the kernel is still 32bit, which is why all the drivers still work (they’re still 32bit too). Only user programs can be 64bit

      And the A64 is a little over 5 years old.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    The industry going to have to stop using x86 as a term to describe 32-bit because the peasants will not want x64 instead – it’s a lower number so it can’t be as good!

    • absinthexl
    • 11 years ago

    M-Audio took until December of 2008 to release beta drivers for the Delta series. December. 2008. Beta.

    This is what stopped me from finally getting a 64-bit OS – the Omni Studio is vital for work, but the driver support is unbelievably bad. If it works, I can finally get over this awful 2GB memory limit per application (or 3GB with a Windows switch, but that causes other problems). Rendering large-size images is pretty much impossible in a 32-bit environment.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Why do you need audio drivers to render large images?

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        lol

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      My user space limit is set to 6,144 MiB, nananana. My dad is stronger than your mum.
      I also have a 1 gig RAMdrive for the system’s only pagefile, and still a ton of free ram for everything else, even when rendering 4 exceptionally high-fidelity songs or running Photoshop crazy or playing two games at the same time. Aaah, the philosophy of “enough is never enough”.

    • Voldenuit
    • 11 years ago

    If MS wants to encourage migration to 64 bit, they should change their licensing terms to allow users to upgrade their existing 32-bit install and go back if they need/want to as many times as they want.

      • Saber Cherry
      • 11 years ago

      They don’t. MS doesn’t benefit from 64-bit unless customers pay for it – or, at least, that’s how management sees it in their myopic little pig-eyes, since it was trivial for them to make Vista 64-bit only. Not to mention being strictly beneficial to all parties, including themselves, in both the short and long term.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 11 years ago

        I don’t know about the back-and-forth, just the thought of J6Ps doing that makes me shudder. But I do know that a retail or upgrade Vista license entitles one to either a 32- and 64-bit version although only Ultimate comes with both installable out of the box. I imagine that if one did do a reinstall on the same hardware with the other version that activation wouldn’t be a problem. I’m not certain about OEM licenses but I doubt they’d be different, I don’t know that the key is for just one version.

    • Saber Cherry
    • 11 years ago

    Windows 7 may still include a 32-bit version, because Microsoft abhors ‘progress’ and ‘efficiency’. But inevitably there will be no 64-bit version of Windows 8, because the OS itself will need over 4GB RAM just to boot. We may all regret the day Microsoft drops a 32-bit version and becomes unhindered by any resource limitations, for it will be akin to Shodan being freed from all ethical restraints. The thought of Ballmer becoming a ‘Diego-cyborg’ sends chills down my spine.

      • Kunikos
      • 11 years ago

      I LOL’d. Thanks for that FUDtastic spittle-flying rant.

      • miken
      • 11 years ago

      Admins: How do I delete a poster?

        • bdwilcox
        • 11 years ago

        Usually, you just take it off the wall. (badump, bump, tssshhh!)

          • Saber Cherry
          • 11 years ago

          I posted that, but it most have been deleted…

        • bthylafh
        • 11 years ago

        Alas, the article comments don’t have a killfile. I’ve bemoaned this before.

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          Just click that little +- over to the right. It’s almost as good.

    • Vasilyfav
    • 11 years ago

    25% of Vista installations is barely 5-6% of the total market. This is not a tipping point by any means.

      • SPOOFE
      • 11 years ago

      Could be. People that already bought a computer and have no interest in buying another one anytime soon effectively remove themselves from the market. Like the article says, RAM is cheap and people like using all of it.

    • bdwilcox
    • 11 years ago

    The market could easily have been divided into XP for 32-bit CPUs and Vista and Vista SE (Windows 7) for 64-bit CPUs. After all, most 32-bit CPU based systems aren’t fast enough to run Vista or Windows 7 well, but now Microsoft is tied into offering a 32-bit flavor of Windows 7 because they failed to make that hard decision with Vista. What a mess.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Well, yeah, but it /[

    • thermistor
    • 11 years ago

    I loathe the whole 32 vs 64 thing. The hammer processor was totally unable to take advantage of the 64 bit thing in retail because until about 2007 (4 years after hammer’s introduction), there were no Win-64 preinstalls. None.

    Didn’t we go through this with 16 vs 32? Did anyone at that time say, “Yeah, I run all 32-bit and my machine is smokin’ compared to crappy 16-bit legacy stuff.”? I recall nothing of the sort. The 32 to 64 is the same identical kind of change, except that the industry is more mature now and is reaching the law of diminishing returns, i.e. does a PAINT type software really need to be 64 *ever*??

      • shank15217
      • 11 years ago

      Hammer caused a revolution in the Solarix/Linux environment, specifically with large scale database systems. IT was taken advantage of fairly quickly, x86-64 is an astounding success.

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        Even on the Windows side, x64 was a big win for Windows Server (XP-x64 was kind of a stepchild of Server 2003 x64, which was the focus of the development and sold well). And Server 2008 is seeing better uptake than Vista, most of it 64bit.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Well, if you define “PAINT-type software” boardly enough…. Photoshop certainly benefits from x64, at least for some users.

    • Krogoth
    • 11 years ago

    64-bit will eventually get here.

    Remember how long it took for developers to finally dump 16-bit stuff for 32-bit environments?

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    The main problem is OEMs only shipping/support Vista 32bit. Most recently my boss picked out and ordered a new inventory tracking system. I now have to format and reinstall my work laptop because the stupid inventory software doesn’t work on anything 64bit. I reported the bug in great detail and it’s pretty much a one-line fix, but they have no interest.

    I hope lazy software developers like these all die by natural selection. Making Win7 64-only would help tons.

      • ECH
      • 11 years ago

      In the end it’s developers like this that are exercising their authority. It is them not the 64-bit OS itself that will determine which way the market will go.

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        No, as you say, in the market it’s the customers who have the final “authority,” not the developers. They’re already buying 4GB machines and not getting to use all their memory; as they start buying machines with 8GB of memory they’re going to be choosing x64 (because they’re smart about it, or because that’s what Consumer Reports et al told them to do)

          • indeego
          • 11 years ago

          Consumer Reports computer/tech coverage is quite amusingg{.}g

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            I can’t say I’ve looked at it, but I can imagine. But that’s where it starts, along with word-of-mouth from techy friends.

          • ECH
          • 11 years ago

          If that were true the rotary engine would be head and shoulder more in demand then the typical engine we see today. Having said this, it’s obvious that the developers dictate the need for a 64-bit OS. All the consumer can do is buy it. That doesn’t necessarily make it a need, sought after option.

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            “If that were true the rotary engine would be head and shoulder more in demand then the piston engine. ”

            The rotary burned more gas (and oil) than competing piston engines, which is why it didn’t survive the oil shock except in a niche sports car (one that I owned for a while, as a matter of fact). And it didn’t offer anything really compelling to the average consumer, just like 64bit apps. There may be a compelling 64bit app out there waiting to drive end-user demand, but I haven’t seen it. Adobe’s CS4 suite might be the most compelling, and it is now available on x64 — that’s even the /[

            • ECH
            • 11 years ago

            We can only agree to disagree. While you believe in just some apps; I believe that adoption must come from all developers. This is why I believe they are in authority here. This is were we differ most in our opinions on the subject.

            In the end, 32-bit OS isn’t going any where anytime soon. The idea of forcing people to buy 64-bit OS or “don’t buy it at all” won’t work. What will push demand is the overwhelming presence of 64-bit applications, games and driver support which comes from the developers. Which show some sort of benefit over exiting applications using 32-bit OS. And no, having the ability to add more memory won’t cut it IMO.

        • ludi
        • 11 years ago

        Speaking as someone who uses a lot of proprietary software in his day job, “developers like this” are not “exercising their authority”, they’re taking advantage of the fact that their software is specialized to the point where it is neither cheap nor easy for the customer to find a competing option. If you could charge $1k-8k/seat/year and a few hundred bucks in support fees on the side without having to lift a finger, your hands might tend to take long rests, as well.

        But that has nothing to do with the merits of the underlying OS platform.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Did it not work or just not install? Did you try installing it into a 32bit VM?

        • Disco
        • 11 years ago

        oops – posted 2x

        • Disco
        • 11 years ago

        Can you explain what you mean here? Would it help me install some older stats software onto vista? I can’t get it to work with either x32 or x64 versions.

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          Well, I was talking about a couple of things:

          1. Some 32bit software uses 16bit installers (stupid but true). Since 16bit software doesn’t run at all on x64, that creates problems for software that (once installed) would otherwise run fine. However, since the software you’re having problems with doesn’t run on x32 either, that’s not the case here (though some installers are too restrictive about what OS versions they consider acceptable, also)

          2. If you have access to a copy of Windows XP (or even Windows 2000), you can install it as a “guest OS” inside a virtual machine. Microsoft VirtualPC and VMWare Workstation are both free VM hosts you can download and use for that purpose.

      • continuum
      • 11 years ago

      I was surprised, actually– a Dell XPS M1330 picked from Best Buy the other day actually had Windows Vista Home Premium r[

    • FubbHead
    • 11 years ago

    Huh… Did I miss something? The Athlon 64 launch was late 2003. Which isn’t over eight years ago..

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      It’s two bit math with an (incorrectly interpreted) overflow bit.

    • getbornagain
    • 11 years ago

    hmm… “Over eight years after the launch of the first x86-64 desktop CPU”

    r[

      • getbornagain
      • 11 years ago

      It’s good to see that I didn’t acturally enter a time warp and it really is still 2009… and only “Over five years after the launch of the first x86-64 desktop CPU”

    • Spotpuff
    • 11 years ago

    What’s stopping them from only releasing a 64 bit version of windows 7?

    Are Atom, etc. all 64 bit as well? If so, I hope they aren’t wasting resources on 32 bit for people with processors older than 8 years…

      • bthylafh
      • 11 years ago

      Some of the Atoms are 32-bit only.

      • dlenmn
      • 11 years ago

      Most atoms are not x64 (although some are).

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      The OEMs have been dragging their feet (Dell was happy to sell you a PC with 4GB of memory but until about the middle of last year you couldn’t get x64 pre-installed). The issue for them isn’t old CPUs, it’s old peripherals. When Joe User buys a new PC he expects it to work with the printer and scanner and whatever else he’s had lying around since the last century, and not all of them have x64 drivers (or ever will, in many cases).

      Now, given that Vista changed the driver model anyway, and it’s not like waiting another year is going to change the situation of those orphaned outboard peripherals (other than a few more of them have been thrown in the trash), they really should’ve bit the bullet with Vista. But… the other issue is corporate customers who don’t want a heterogeneous environment. They don’t want x64 to leak into their network in dribs and drabs as new machines are purchased; they want to test it, make sure everything in their enterprise works with it, and then roll it out en masse. (Which is one of the things that held up the deployment of even the 32bit version of IE).

      So while the OEMs have come around, and us non-corporate customers have been way out ahead, it takes time to turn the F500 navy. Given the positive previews of Win7, it’s likely a lot more of them will jump directly to it, skipping Vista altogether. But very few of them are going to be doing any kind of wholescale rollout of new client systems in the current economic climate. So realistically MS has to have a 32bit version of Win7 if they’re planning to ship it any time before, say, 2011.

      I expect that will be the last 32bit Windows, however.

      • Cuhulin
      • 11 years ago

      They can’t release a 64-bit only operating system that won’t run Microsoft Office. Microsoft itself has said that the current version of Office is only partly compatible with 64-bit, and that they won’t provide full 64-bit support until Office 14 comes out. Since Office 14 is not due until well after Windows 7 ships, Windows 7 needs 32-bit support.

      I expect that the same also is true with some of the other Microsoft suites, though I don’t know them and their upgrade paths well enough to comment.

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        The x64 incompatibilities for Office 2007 are really minor. In fact unless you use the internet fax feature I doubt you’d notice.

          • Cuhulin
          • 11 years ago

          Or the print to OneNote that I use 2-3 times a day.

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            Hmm, that’s a bad one. Though presumably it’s something the Office guys might have been working on the past two years (closer to three by the time Win 7 ships).

    • Chillectric
    • 11 years ago

    I don’t even think Microsoft Office is 64-bit native. Kind of defeats the purpose of a 64-bit CPU and 64-bit OS if you don’t have 64-bit apps.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      Not entirely. The OS has more need for the expanded address space than most applications do. The server apps that really can use the space, like SQL Server, have been x64 for some time. The are other benefits, of course, most notably the increased registers, but except perhaps for really heavy calculation in Excel you’re not going to see much benefit from them either.

      • Grigory
      • 11 years ago

      All me apps are 32 bit and they run very happily on my 64 bit system with more than 3.5GB (6GB) memory.

      • Voldenuit
      • 11 years ago

      No. No it doesn’t.

      64 bit allows the OS to address more RAM. Even if a 32 bit application can’t use that much RAM, it helps anyway, since the last time I checked, people run more than 1 application (or process) at a time on modern PCs.

      Also, 32 bit applications can take advantage of more RAM without having to be 64-bit. A typical 32-bit OS limits each application to 2 GB of physical address space, far below the 4 GB limit of a 32 bit OS. A 32-bit application running on a 64-bit OS therefore can address more RAM on a 64-bit OS, and even more than 4 GB if it is large address aware.

      In addition, 64 bit also allows for better security features (such as allowing the NX bit to be used without having to go through PAE), more registers, more SIMD registers etc.

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        You’re conflating physical address space and virtual address space. Apps don’t see physical address space. Apps on 32bit are limited to 2GB of /[

    • elmopuddy
    • 11 years ago

    Cisco support is lacking too, and some other VPN clients.. big deal for business users

      • bittermann
      • 11 years ago

      I totally agree. We have Cisco products for our company and CS/Tech Voip phones. There is absolutely no way we can go to 64 bit no matter how much we want to, if Cisco, NextLevel and a few others refuse to update their software. Half the probelm is we have perfectly good Voip phones from Cisco that won’t support 64 bit. I hope that changes with W7.

      • bthylafh
      • 11 years ago

      I’ve got the 64-bit Cisco VPN client on this machine & it seems to work fine. We’ve switched to the newer AnyConnect system; maybe you want to look into that.

        • Corrado
        • 11 years ago

        Nortel has no 64bit client, and it makes me a sad panda. I have to run a VM with XP Pro on my desktop machine. Its lame.

          • indeego
          • 11 years ago

          That is beyond shamefulg{<.<}g

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          And with Nortel in the state it’s in, I wouldn’t expect any improvement of that situation. Are you planning a transition to something else?

            • bittermann
            • 11 years ago

            Our 2 year old Cisco hardware is not compatible with it…vpn is not an issue. The VOIP phones cost upwards of $600 each. blaaahhh……..

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            Has Cisco even indicated they plan to support 64bit at some point in the future?

            • Usacomp2k3
            • 11 years ago

            Color me confused, but why do phones require OS support? My Cisco 7945 isn’t attached to my computer at all (well I take that back, IT doesn’t have enough network connections so all computers are routed through the phone on the desk).

            • bittermann
            • 11 years ago

            We use a Cisco ACD VOIP phone system for call queses so there is server side software which routes, records and monitors everything, plus we have pc software installed in each station that logs tech calls into the virtual queues, which also controls and monitors the techs. That allows other supervisor software to monitor the techs. Hardware and software are all tied together…

    • ECH
    • 11 years ago

    64-bit OS will never be successful unless it has the full backing of software developers. IMO, this news wasn’t directed at the consumer but to the software developers.

    Why would they show any level of concern for 64-bit OS when MS hasn’t shown that their own programs have demonstrated some sort of advantage/improvement using 64-bit in a 64-bit os.

    In the end 25% IMO isn’t “good enough” IMO.

      • elmopuddy
      • 11 years ago

      64 bit apps or not.. I can run more than 4gb of ram.. 8gb now, my future i7 build will have minimum 12gb.

      • StashTheVampede
      • 11 years ago

      Why would you immediately assume huge performance gains by going 64bit? That’s silly and you should know it. Going 64bit allows the OS to have (much) more memory and more memory can be allocated to underlying apps.

      Not ALL apps *need* this much memory (IE, Winamp, etc), but for those that do already have been 64bit for quite some time (database, cad, rendering, etc).

      The only apps I’ve encountered that were a problem were related to a specific driver functionality.

        • IntelMole
        • 11 years ago

        5-15% speed improvement for not much more than the cost of a recompile is nothing to sniff at.

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          Except that most end-user apps spend most of their time sitting around waiting for the user. How would you notice that Word is 5% faster?

          Performance improvements are great, especially when they’re [i]almost[/i] free (a recompile on commercial software still involves a lot of QA) but not many Office-style apps are going to show a tangible benefit to the user — and many of the ones that would are available in x64 version already.

          None of that is an argument against wholescale adoption of 64bit OS, of course.

        • ECH
        • 11 years ago

        Advantage/improvement is not the definition of huge performance gains. In order to get developers (as a whole) to start coding for 64-bit there must be a irrevocable, undeniable benefit for doing so. So far, the only thing that has ever been touted most about a 64-bit OS is the inclusion of adding more ram. This does not necessitate the need for more ram in the majority of applications, only the desire to add more (albeit this is coming from the enthusiast crowd).

          • Flying Fox
          • 11 years ago

          Most user-level applications should not even care about the bitness, as long as they don’t manipulate pointers directly and do funky things with them. With .NET/Java apps, there is not much that you can screw up in terms of bitness.

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          And consumers keep running more and more apps simultaneously (defined broadly to include AV, background services like iTunes, net aware background tasks like torrents and IM, various utilities) and those apps keep getting bigger and bigger. Even web apps contribute to that, because on my system at least every day it seems like Firefox wants ever more memory. So one of the oldest and truest of truisms in computing — you can always use more memory — continues unchecked. But we’ve reached the inflection point where the default, minimum system configuration — 4GB — isn’t fully exploited by the default, 32bit OS. As the OEMs (and even the F500 IT guys spec’ing systems) push past that, they’re going to start recommending x64 — first as an option, then as the default. And none of that requires a 64bit app anywhere on those systems.

          Which is not to say that a killer 64bit-only app wouldn’t have a much bigger impact, just that it’s not a requirement.

            • blubje
            • 11 years ago

            the newest versions of ff actually stress performance and memory conservation; same with chrome.

            almost no feasible hardware can make up for bad software. for any of these “typical consumer functionalities” you describe, I see no reason why 1gb should be insufficient. pro apps may be engineered to use a large amount of ram, but any issues with e.g. word are the result of bad programming, and probably won’t exactly scale with more ram.

            also, the “adage” is only true because ram is cheap. if everyone had ssd’s then swapping wouldn’t be as expensive, particularly for background apps, and programming styles would be different.

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            I’m aware that FF3 is much better about memory usage (particularly in fragmenting its virtual address space — I no longer have to kill it several times a day to get a responsive system back) but it’s still a pig.

            People will keep running more apps until something like system unresponsiveness stops them. They keep more tabs open in browser, they run more widgets (much of the time they’re not even aware they installed something that has a component like a service that’s always running), they leave apps open. And apps keep getting bigger, because end users like pretty graphics and developers like the productivity they get from frameworks and high-level languages. That was true when memory was expensive, and it’s true now that memory is cheap. Software always expands to fill the space available, and then a bit more. Especially when it’s something like FF that insists on hoarding lots of memory just so it appears “responsive” when you switch back to it after doing something else (even if that hoarding detracts from the performance of everything else).

            And widespread adoption of SSDs will make that worse, not better, because the penalty for overcommitting your system will be less noticeable.

            • blubje
            • 11 years ago

            yes, ssds would have that effect, but they might also make it so one doesn’t have to load data files immediately (think of video games loading an entire level). Expensive is relative; maybe think of the cost to the programmer (your higher level languages is a good example, though some of these can be used effectively without too much overhead).

            “Software always expands to fill the space available, and then a bit more.” I think saying this is necessitated by performance is the same argument as above.

        • rohith10
        • 11 years ago

        A 64-bit processor, apart from having a larger logical address space, also has 64-bit registers. So theoretically, performance should improve. However, most apps we use daily are already running as fast as they could, since they aren’t CPU-bound. The advantages can be seen with programs that are more compute-intensive.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      A 64bit OS doesn’t need 64bit apps to be successful. It merely has to replace its 32bit predecessor and run the existing codebase of 32bit apps. After all, the x64 CPUs have been a success despite mostly being used with 32bit operating systems.

      You’re probably right that MS is trying to get the message out to ISVs (and also to the OEMs who are dragging their feet on offering x64) but there really isn’t a requirement that the apps be there first — as is obvious from the fact that the x64 version of Vista is already at 25% of the total despite big OEMs like Dell not offering it until fairly recently.

        • ECH
        • 11 years ago

        The reason why 64-bit OS hasn’t been successful is the very opposite of what you think is not needed. Had what you said been the case, it would be just as popular as it’s 32-bit brother. The problem now is the fact that the 64-bit OS has to offer something appealing which can be a benefit for developers IMO.

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          If all the OEMs shipped the x64 version only, it would be “successful” (by any measure of sales or installed base) even if no 3rd party developer offered x64 versions of their apps. If Windows x64 couldn’t run 32bit apps your argument would apply, but it can and does. Most end-user apps don’t offer compelling x64-only features either.

            • ECH
            • 11 years ago

            That very thought process was tried with Vista when they discontinue XP and it didn’t work. Forcing people to buy “this” or don’t buy at all has never worked.

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            But most of the OEMs didn’t offer x64, even as an option, until a year or more after it was available (quite a bit more if you count XP x64) — and what comes with their new computer purchase is how the vast majority of people exercise their choice of OS in the market.

            • ECH
            • 11 years ago

            And your point? Right now the majority of PC sold today come with Vista yet it can’t come close to be the dominate OS of choice. Facts are facts.

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            Because there’s such a huge installed base of pre-Vista machines, and Vista is perceived as not offering a compelling reason to upgrade. Which really has nothing to do with x64, except that x64 wasn’t even an option for most customers who were buying OEM machines

            If Win7 is perceived as compelling upgrade (for people buying the OS stand-alone and for people purchasing it as part of a new PC), the driving factor for the transition to x64 is going to be RAM capacity, which is still on its traditional upward slope. The need for more memory has lessened somewhat (the marginal benefit of the next GB isn’t as great now as it was in the 1GB days or before) but people keep loading their machines up with stuff and finding a use for it, even when the OS itself isn’t demanding more. And OEMs like to upsell more memory because it’s profitable. While I’m sure they’d happily sell you a a 6GB or 8GB machine with a 32bit OS (for months Dell was selling 4GB machines that couldn’t use it all because they didn’t offer an x64 OS, even as an option), increasingly they’re going to be guiding their customers to choosing x64. And that has nothing to do with the “authority” of the app developers.

            The other factor will be corporate purchases. That’s a little trickier because they don’t like to support multiple client versions, and not many F500 companies are going to see any need for a mass replacement of their corporate desktops. And the old drivers of the past — primarily the transition of internal apps to take advantage of a new OS version — matter less because they’re increasingly web-based. But even there the ridiculousness of buying desktops with memory they can’t use (4GB — two 2GB DIMMs — is going to be the minimum configuration in the i5 era starting later this year) will eventually win out (though large corporations can put up with ridiculousness for an amazing amount of time).

            • ECH
            • 11 years ago

            Actually the notion to either buy it or don’t buy it all has a legitimate parallel when I used Vista’s popularity as an example. The reason why you don’t see more 64-bit OS pre-installed is because there is no demand for it. Again, telling people to “either buy a 64-bit OS or don’t buy it at all” didn’t work when they discontinued XP and it won’t work with a 64-bit OS either IMO.

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            Maybe I’m not making myself clear. I’m not denying that a “killer app” that was only available in 64bit, or offered obvious advantages on x64, would drive demand more than any other factor. That’s obviously been the case on the server side, where the killer apps are things like web and database servers that can use as much memory as you can throw at them. But the opportunity for such an app on the desktop client side doesn’t seem large. Media apps like Photoshop are the obvious candidate, but they’re just not widespread enough to drive consumer demand. I suppose it’s possible we’ll see a game that offers something compelling in x64 and only in x64, but that seems unlikely. So even if all the apps developers were offering x64 versions of their software, how much difference would that actually make? The CS4 versions of Adobe’s suite are available in 64bit and it’s not driving a lot of demand. The “authority” of the app developers is limited.

            And that just leaves the slow creep of standard memory configurations and the progression of OEMs from not offering x64, to making it an option, to making it the default option.

            • ECH
            • 11 years ago

            Your reply to me is really going on it’s own. I initially responded to someone who replied to my post that forcing people to buy a 64-bit OS was an ideal solution. IE: Making win7 64-bit only. Now I’ve explained why IMO that won’t work. Even if consumer are forced to buy it, if there is really no tangible, benefit (other then the option of adding more ram) people won’t buy it, Vista has proven this.

            Therefore, saying that consumers have the authority would only show similar results as to what happened to Vista. What will drive consumers to buying a 64-bit OS will (again IMO) come from developers as a whole advertising their products/services using it. Yes, I see that you already understand this. However, what I didn’t take note of in your reply is that the authority of the consumer will play a factor once their is a demand for the product. Thus why I believe it remains with developers who still refuse to code for it.

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            Well, we agree that it’s consumers (including corporate IT depts) that are going to ultimately drive the transition; one of my points was that for quite a while the decision wasn’t even in their hands because most of the OEMs weren’t offering it.

            But I guess what we disagree on is what is going to persuade customers to choose x64 over x32. Will it be the widespread and widely-advertised availability of 64bit apps that causes them to take the plunge, even if those apps don’t offer anything compelling over the 32bit versions? Or will it be the desire to take advantage of more than 4GB of memory, especially if 4GB+ is the minimum system you can buy?

            • ECH
            • 11 years ago

            No, I am not saying it will be consumers it will be the entire co-op of developers. I’ve explained that in detail of why that’s my opinion in the very post you replied to.

        • Chillectric
        • 11 years ago

        Do 64-bit applications improve in any other way besides performance (such as less memory and clock cycle resources) compared to their 32-bit brothers?

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          There’s no magic feature that x64 grants an application. They get access to a much larger virtual address space (and the underlying OS is able to map that to a larger physical memory range, if installed). They get access to more registers (both GP and SSE), which in some cases can provide a 5-10% performance boost (mostly in SSE code, where some popular algorithms spill out of registers). But most apps fit comfortably in 2GB of VAS already, and most end-user apps aren’t compute-bound either (or aren’t for timeframes long enough for users to notice). There are some benefits to the OS as a whole (better patching, signed drivers, etc) but they don’t affect the apps (unless the app requires a driver that isn’t available in 64bit).

          If a 32bit app is well-written, porting it to 64bit is little more than recompile — plus a bunch of testing. But testing cost is not insignificant, not all apps are well-written, some require special work (if they rely on a driver, for example) and they generally gain no real benefit that can be perceived by the end user. Which is why the app vendors haven’t been falling all over themselves to offer 64bit, though the writing has been on the wall long enough that many of them have begun offering a x64 version as part of their normal schedule of new versions (the existence of a new x64 version may be enough to induce an upgrade by some users, even if it doesn’t offer any real benefit exclusively from its 64bitness).

          The real irony is that some of the end user apps that would benefit the most from the increased address space in x64 had done so much hackishness in 32bit (coughAdobecough) that it was a /[

    • Chillectric
    • 11 years ago

    Microsoft needs to work a lot on IE 64-bit and WMP 64-bit before releasing a 64-bit only OS.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      I’m not saying that included apps couldn’t have 32-bit versions, but every system shipping today should come with an OS capable of running 64-bit apps. With x86-64, there are architectural improvements you’re leaving on the table if you stick to 32-bit only.

        • MaxTheLimit
        • 11 years ago

        This is the point I was waiting for someone to make. I think 25% is enough to warrant mentioning in that it’s a number that signifies to software developers that unless they are willing to ignore a quarter of software users then it’s time to begin moving forward on this. While IE, and other such applications are still 32bit, I still do say that pushing forward toward all OSes having 64bit support is a good thing.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      I suspect I’m misunderstanding your post, but — Work on it how? IE x64 and WMP x64 are already included (though the default shortcuts go to the 32bit version). The real problem is the 32bit plug-ins that don’t run in the x64 version, and it’s up to 3rd parties to fix those.

        • Taddeusz
        • 11 years ago

        And not to mention, what is the benefit of having a 64-bit browser or media player?

          • DreadCthulhu
          • 11 years ago

          Have you seen how much RAM IE 8.0 uses? 😉 More seriously, it would be moderately useful to be able to cache even very large video files entirely into RAM, allowing no-delay seeking.

            • Taddeusz
            • 11 years ago

            Let’s forget that this is wasteful on RAM. But does caching a streamed video really require more than 2GB of address space? 2GB is what every 32-bit application in Windows can see. If IE is using that much RAM then something really is wrong.

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            Actually, through the wonders of memory-mapped files, any 32bit application can work with files that are much larger than 2GB (or even 4GB); the OS takes care of caching and paging in the subset it is actually touching (which of course is typically much smaller than the total file). When a 32bit app is running on x64 with a lot of memory available, the OS might be caching well over 4GB of the file transparent to the app, which shouldn’t have to do any special caching of its own.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        I don’t get why it’s up to teh 3rd party. Couldn’t MS just provide a framework for 32-bit plugins in a 64-bit environment? I could see not supporting 64-bit plugins in a 32-bit app, though.

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          The problem is that the plug-ins are DLLS, and DLLs have to load into an executable process (they have no stack of their own, among other things). So a 64bit process loading a 32bit DLL ends up with 32bit code trying to run in a 64bit process, which doesn’t work (32bit code does /[

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 11 years ago

        I actually use wmp x64 as my main media player. Some codecs can be a little tricky to track down, but they’re out there.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 11 years ago

    Driver support for 64bit Windows Vista is such a pain for some devices. I’m still helping users with their Palm devices since Palm has effectively said “NO U” to 64bit support.

    • Scrotos
    • 11 years ago

    YES!

    Wait, what were you talking about, again?

    • derFunkenstein
    • 11 years ago

    THEN DUMP THE RIDICULOUS 32-BIT CLIENT ALREADY!

      • VILLAIN_xx
      • 11 years ago

      HUZZAH!

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