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Leaning towards Windows Pro x64

Hello..This is my first question here in a long time. I haven't been able to get some straight answers from some of those "free" tech advice sites, so I decided to come back for awhile. (Now the pressure's on ya'...just kidding!)

I have had an AMD 64 bit processor for some time now, but it never occcured to me to take advantage of running a 64 bit operating system on it. That is, until recently. A friend of mine works for a Microsoft-related company and he gets free software. So he provided me with a nice, new clean Windows XP Pro x64 that I immediately whipped on my hard drive and lightly tested.

I must say, I was quite impressed with it's speed and stability and even things like the x32 of Internet Explorer seemed ro run better. I basically gave up on it though, very quickly, because I couldn't find a x64 printer driver for my Canon Pixma IP3000, and I have to have a printer! (Actually I did find one on the Canon USA site, but I downloaded it and it didn't even open  up) So I reformatted and put back on my x32 Windows XP Pro.

But I couldn't stop thinking about running it and couldn't believe that Canon had not come out with a working driver for a, fairly recent printer. So I did plenty of Googling and bumped into information about updated Canon x64 drivers for their printers. It was on a European Canon site. I knew right away that it was a different driver because it was a larger size than the other one and it opened up just fine on my x32 system. I only hope it will do the same on the x64 OS.

So now I am thinking seriously about going through with this, but I've been  reading so much about the lack of support for x64, that I'm a little nervous about it. The first thing that comes to mind is x64 Internet Explorer. I found out, rather quickly, when I was testing it, that Adobe Flash player doesn't work on it, and I watch alot of YouTube. I did read some about open source flash alternatives like Gnash, but getting that to work is a little beyond my technical comprehension.

But no problem there. I figure I will just run x32 Internet Explorer. I also had planned to run the x64 of Firefox, but I read where it also doesn't allow flash to work, at least I think it won't. So no problem again. I just figure I'll use the x32 Firefox.

Now comes my first big question...I need to run Java for certain applications that demand it and in my research I found that I need to run Java RE for Windows x64. Is this true? First of all, I couldn't even find a download for it, and second, running a Java for x64 wouldn't help me running Internet Explorer x32, where I need Java appelets for some sites. So I'm a little confused about all of this and I hope you can help me sort it out.

Most of my other questions about x64 I have pretty much figured out or researched on my own, so I think I am ok there, though I'd like to go over that briefly with you. For example, and correct me if I'm wrong but, as far applications go, most x32's will run fine, but will things like Winamp, Acoustica CD & DVD Label Maker and video capturing software work? I did find out that only certain burning software, like Nero, needs to be x64 compatable, as does my defrag utility, my Acronis backup device and my partition manager need to be x64 compatable, but I'm covered there.

And I am ok with security, I think...I have Kaspersky, which is x64 compatable and Webroot Spy Sweeper will run on x64 but I'm still waiting to hear from PC Tools about Spyware Doctor. I also run for my anti-spam, Cloudmark Desktop and I wrote them asking the big x64 question, but have not heard back.

I guess that's about it. I'm sure I will have more questions for Experts-Exchange following your reply. There is one thing that I forgot to mention. And that is that I don't want to dual-boot.
Also, this will all be going on a fairly fast system. 2.2 GHz processor, 2GB's of RAM and a 256 MB AGP Video card.

Thank you

Avatar of talker2004
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ok, first thing is it's still a x32 bit world. With the next release of windows Microsoft is aiming to change that. You are going to obviouly have hassels finding drivers for things. The main benifit of a x64 systme is that it can address more than 3.5 gb or ram. In the near future we are going to need that much memroy standard wo eventually it's goign to have to become mainstream.

I would never run x64 system on my primary comptuer. This is because of lack of driver support. Althoguh most 32 bit apps will work you are going to run into softwrae like nero or if you use deamon tools to mount iso's. Any software that has virtual drivers or requires kernal level access is going to need to have x64 support.

As far as your primax i had the same issue with my x64 Widnows Server 2003 machine. I upgraded this recently to Windows Server 2008 x64 which detected most of my drivers nativley. I have 8gb of ram and the only reason this server sits there is because i am running Virtual Server 2005 which is now free from microsoft. I am able to run mulitple operating system under my vitutal server. These operating system are mostly 32 bit.

As far as your javea it appers taht there is a x64 version

The best advise i could give you now is to purchse Acronis True Image software. This way you can backup your system in about 5 minutes before you take on the endevor of moving to X64 windows. And when you get the x64 version working backup with True Image again. This way if things don't work out one way or anohter you are 5 minutes away from restoring your backed up operating system.

The free trial has 15 day limitation however the emergency recovery boot media has no limitations.
The product is $50

True Image Backup Software.

virtual server 2005

x64 Java
my 2 cents... I went through a very similar process to you ; I ran xp 64 bit for a while and in the begining it was great - I had very few problems once I got the compatibility programs working but after a I while I realised exactly what talker2004 said ; its still a 32-bit world. Ive gone back to 32-bit and will wait until its more widely supported...  
Avatar of janlafata


talker2004...Unfortunately...or maybe fortunately, you still haven't helped me decide whether to go this route or not! Thanks for the Java find though. I'm still not clear on the x32 software issue. You said that "any software that has virtual drivers or requires kernal level access is going to need to have x64 support". Can you explain that a little further detail for me. I still don't know if that means apps like my Winamp Pro, my label maker software or all the various utilities I use, like Window Washer etc work. I did find a x64 registry cleaner, but, from what I also understand, isn't there some kind of emulation thing in x64 that helps x32 programs work ok in x64?

I'm sure I can find just about everything I need, one way or another at that it will take some trial and error, but also wanted to know a little more about how you felt about the speed and stability. Did you find that Internet Explorer x32, maybe worked a little better? Because, if that's not the case, I too, don't really see the need for switching. After all..surfing's what it's all about, right?

However I also understand that with x64, you have fewer crashes and stuck applications. In other words, things just are just much tighter in this version.
I guess I am sounding like I am going to make the switch anyway, doesn't it?
Well I am slowly compiling information, even downloading some x64 drivers already too. I've got my video an audio covered there.

Finally, I also wanted to ask you about the update for XP Pro x64. The first thing I did when I was testing it was to go to the Windows Update site to see how that all works in x64. There was one huge update, 350 MB's!, waiting to be downloaded. What's that all about? Some kind of huge Service Pack or something, maybe even with some updated drivers in it?

Thanks again for your advice and info. I may have just a few more questions after I hear from you.

Avatar of russell124
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The real truth is that nobody except for developers, engineer, and computer enthusiast has even attempted to try this.

Driver support is limited and there is no %100 for sure way to know if an application / Device you are going to purchase in the near future is going to work on it unless it claims x64 support. (Most do not have that claim).

I am a software developer; the software we developed could easily be compiled for x64 support. It would probably take as long as it did for me to make this post. However, the though has never even crossed my mind because the market is just not there. Yes our program will run on the x64 machine but in a 32 bit compatibility mode. This means that our program could only address about 3.5gb of the ram that is inside of the machine. Our program uses about 190mb max.

The problem is that software developers are just not adding the x64 support. This will change only when Microsoft stops offering 32 bit versions of windows.

As far as kernel mode access you may find some virus scanners that may require it. No problem as long as the company offers an x64 version of the scanner software. Other than that the only software that may require kernel-mode access is a rootkit. A rootkit is the worst type of mailware or spyware you can get on your computer. Not to say that x64 Windows is invulnerable to rootkits because a rootkit can have x64 support or simply not require kernel-mode access.

It is common for programs to have Virtual drivers. This is actual drivers that were written that interact with virtual hardware. If you have ever created an iso image from a cd and mounted it with daemon tools or Alcohol 120% than you have used software that utilizes virtual drivers. This basically mounts the iso image onto a virtual cd/dvd rom drive that shows up in my computer. It is not a real cd/dvd rom drive it is virtual and reads its data from an image file not a cd or dvd. People use these tools to break copy write protection or simply to get faster or easier access to a cd without having to put a physical cd in the cd-rom drive. Another software that uses virtual drivers is VM-Ware. This is a virtualization program which creates drivers to interface your hardware with the guest operating systems.

Other than a couple of video games that provide x64 support (unreal tournament) and the ability to address more than 3.5gb of ram there is absolutely no real reason to move to a x64 system. After you get all of you system software installed (if you are lucky enough to get that far) your web browser IE will most likely run the same as it did on the 32bit system.

I can guarantee you one thing. There is nobody that can give you a very certain prediction on how well your x64 is going to be able to handle future hardware and software upgrades. Just because you get everything to work now does not mean that in the near future when you go to buy a new printer, scanner, sound card, video card, or any device for that matter that it will be fully supported by your x64 system. I would only consider it if I was using this as a second computer. Everyone I know who installed xp pro x64 on there primary computer gave up on it and reverted back to there 32 bit system. (vmware does support x64 host operating systems)


This is fyi:

When IE7 is installed on an x64 system both the x64 and the x86 versions are installed. Sounds like a really nice thing for Microsoft to do, being so concerned about problems you may have using their browser.

Truth is, it's not that Microsoft is being thoughtful of their customers, that's just plain never been their track record!;) The real reason the x86 32 bit IE7 is there is because their Microsoft/Windows Update will only work properly with the x86 IE7!8-O

Just try this. Go to C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer and double click on the iexplorer.exe there. When it opens, enter into the address field:

You will get a webpage that says:

We need to open a 32-bit version of Internet Explorer