64-bit dominates Windows installations

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9 July 2010 | 0

The arrival of Windows 7 has drastically accelerated the uptake of 64-bit computing, with nearly half of installations of Microsoft’s latest OS using the 64-bit version of the operating system.

According to figures provided by Microsoft, 46% of Windows 7 PCs worldwide were running a 64-bit version of the OS – a huge increase on the kind of figures seen for Vista or XP in the past.

“Compared to Windows Vista at three and a half years after launch, only 11% of PCs running Windows Vista worldwide are running 64-bit,” revealed Brandon LeBlanc of the Windows client communications team.

 

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LeBlanc admitted the sudden increase in the uptake of 64-bit computing is less to do with Microsoft and Windows 7, and more to do with cheaper and more widely available supporting components and applications from OEMs.

“The price of memory has dropped over the last several years making it easier for OEMs to up the amount of memory in the PCs they ship. And most major processors in PCs today are capable of running a 64-bit OS.

“There are also more and more compatible devices and applications for PCs running 64-bit Windows 7,” he wrote in a Windows Team blog post.

Microsoft has offered 64-bit versions of Windows since launching a 64-bit version of XP in 2001. Despite the multitasking benefits promised by a system capable of supporting far more than the 4Gb maximum memory of 32-bit systems, however, the cost of compatible hardware and limited software availability kept 64-bit computing very much in the margins.

To this day, just one per cent of Windows XP installations are 64-bit, while 89% of Vista users are using a 32-bit version of the operating system.

However, after struggling to sell the benefits of 64-bit computing to both businesses and consumers for years, Microsoft is confident that the magical 50% threshold will soon be broken.

LeBlanc cited Intel’s recent company-wide deployment of 64-bit as evidence and NPD figures showing that three out of four retail PCs sold in the US in April had a 64-bit edition of Windows 7 pre-installed backed this up.

“With Windows 7, running a 64-bit OS is becoming the norm,” he claimed.

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