Vista 64 the leading edge or a deviation?

I often advise clients on computer configurations for new purchases.  I now see that Vista 64 is becoming more prevalent in commodity desktops.  My choice is to go with the flow and expand available choices, limit the scope to Vista 32 OR insist on XP.

I can find machines in any of these categories but Vista 64 machines are more immediately avaialbe off the shelf.  

I'm a bit reluctant to go to Vista 64 because XP 64 has been a rarity with (I believe) scarcity of drivers and other compatibility issues due to it being in a limited market.  Yet, XP 64 wasn't ever produced in what appears to be the quantity/popularity of Vista 64 from the big producers today.  

The current users aren't going to be doing much in the way of sophisticated installs, apps, etc.  I just don't want to steer them into a dead end.

What is your advice?  Why?
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Fred MarshallPrincipalAsked:
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John GriffithConnect With a Mentor ConsultantCommented:
Vista x64 with SP1 is an extremely stable OS.  Vista x64 sales have exploded since back-to-school 2008, then again at Christmas and expecting another at Graduation 2009.
One major difference between Vista x64 & x86 is that Vista x64 requires signed device drivers; x86 does not.  If purchasing off-the-shelf systems like HP, Toshiba, Dell, etc... you should have no problems.  If building systems, be sure all device drivers are signed or they will not load.
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All software that I can run on Vista x86 runs fine on x64, exception = no 16-bit programs.  The x64 Kernel is literally impenetrable because of driver signing and so far I have had -0- infections (personal profile folders notwithstanding - Docs, Music, etc...).  
Virtualization in use much more in x64 than x86.  If you run an x86 app like HiJackThis or an x86 file manager, the x64 \windows\system32 folder becomes the virtualized \sysnative folder and the x86 app is re-directed to the x86 \windows\syswow64 folder.  The x86 app still believes it is in \system32 and will report erroneous "file not found" errors.  There are very few security-related tools for x64 as of yet.
I would recommend at least 4GB RAM for Vista x64.  I DO NOT advise upgrading current XP or Vista x86 or XP x64 systems to Vista x64.  I have seen too many BSODs result from doing so and obtaining x64 device drivers for older hardware is a problem.
Windows 7 x64 installed and ran without incident on several Vista x64 systems here.  Truly a seamless transition, should you wish to do so when Windows 7 goes on public sale.
Vista x64 SP1 is a great system and I highly recommend it.
Should you wish to try it out on a system that you know x64 device drivers are available, you can download a trial version of MS Server 2008 x64 - identical to Vista SP1 x64
Microsoft Server 2008 x64 Trial
 Regards. . .  jcgriff2
hmareConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Vista 64 does seem to be more and more available compared to XP 64. Apple has moved all of their new computers to 64 bit, and it seems to be taking hold in the Linux world, as well. It seems that the industry is moving, in general, toward 64 bit. Part of this is because backwards compatibility issues have been ironed out, and part of it is because as what we do with computers becomes more complex, the ability to have more than 4 gigs of ram is starting to be important. I would say that you would not be doing a disservice to customers stearing them to 64 bit, especially in a system expected to last a few years, as it seems to be here to stay.
StefanKittelConnect With a Mentor Commented:

I can tell from our customers and vista64 works fine. All the problems from xp64 are gone.
You can even play with it without problems. The only Problem I found is old hardware where no 64Bit drivers are available (cheap scanner or printer).

But most of our customers stay a xp and wait for windows 7 to skip vista.

Fred MarshallPrincipalAuthor Commented:
Thanks all.   I bought one (hp) with 8GB RAM.  Hope they're happy with it!
John GriffithConsultantCommented:
You're welcome - and Thank you as well.
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