Update: use 64-bit if you have at least 2GB of RAM. If you have the choice between Windows Vista and Windows 7, use Windows 7.
The original article (written in 2007) is included for your reference below. It discusses the problems with 64-bit versions of Windows, some of which still exist, but to a much lesser degree. I’m using 64-bit Windows 7 on just about all my computers now, and it’s working great. I have quite a variety of hardware, too, and haven’t run into any compatibility problems.
The original article:
Well, that was an easy choice. Most new processors will support either, and in fairness, there are a few good reasons to install the 64-bit version of Windows Vista. If ALL of the following describe you, you should install the 64-bit Windows Vista.
- I use a limited set of applications, and they are all available in 64-bit.
- The hardware I use is all recent, and I’ve verified that 64-bit drivers are available.
- I need more than 2GB of RAM (maybe for video editing or running multiple virtual machines).
- I’m a geeky blowhard who is willing to waste hours and hours of time to evangelize a wider bus.
Actually, if that last bullet describes you, ignore the previous bullets–you’ll love 64-bit.
In summary, Windows Vista 64-bit is MUCH better than Windows XP 64-bit, but most people will still be happier using the 32-bit version of Windows. Vendors finally seem to be catching up with the drivers, and more applications are available. You’ll still run into some of the following:
- Constant compatibility problems, including Web sites that won’t work properly (think SharePoint, or sites with some ActiveX controls)
- Programs that aren’t available natively in 64-bit
- Games that just won’t run
- Updated drivers (VERY important during the first few months of Vista’s life) will take longer to find because 64-bit Vista requires all drivers to be signed, and the signing process takes time. You can’t turn this off.
- Drivers for unusual hardware (like that webcam you bought three years ago) might not exist at all