Can I install Windows 32 bit OS on a 64 bit system

I have a 64 bit Lenovo and need to run  (old) 32 bit application. So I wanted to replace the Win7 Pro 64bit with WinXP Pro 32bit. Some discussions say it's ok and no explanation, no mention of any problems. Others say you have to repartition the disk, etc.
caiincAsked:
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hunartCommented:
You can not install different OS (32 vs 64) using the same partition.  The partition has to be deleted/removed.  If you loaded Windows XP 32 on your Lenovo and later decided that you want to go back to Windows 7, 64bit, you have to reinstall every thing from scratch meaning that it will be a new install.  All data will have to be removed or moved else where and then restore.

If you have a cloning software which will support Windows 7, such as Norton Ghost, Acronis, you should create an image of Windows 7 first.  If Windows XP did not work for you, you can always quickly restore the Windows 7 image.  PC/Laptop vendors do supply recovery disks or allow you to create your own recovery disks.  Either way, make sure you have a roll-back procedures in place.

Good luck
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hunartCommented:
Yes, you can and shouldn't be any issue.  However, I would suggest to use Windows XP Mode under Windows 7 http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/.  This is a free add on if you Windows 7 is Ultimate or Pro.

This would allow you to run 32bit application under XP Mode.

Good luck
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caiincAuthor Commented:
hunart, appreciate the quick reply. What if i want to totally remove the Win7 64bit os from the system then install Win XP 32 bit, any issues that you are aware of? I don't want to have to deal with 64 bit at all at this point.
 My users are not Win7 savy and it would be great if the new system "looks" and "feels" like the old one.
thanks,
jc
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hunartCommented:
Should not be any major issue.  However, these will be the issues that you might run into:

1) Windows drivers for XP will be difficult to find if your system is built specifically for Windows 7. Lenovo might not make all drivers available to Windows XP.  If they do, there will be costs associated to that.
2) You have to remove the old partition completely and can't install over it as it will not work.  Especially when you have more than partitions on Windows 7.
3) Your system might run slower than Windows 7 as it is built for Windows 7 not XP.  Especially when your system has more than 4GB of memory.
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wolfje_xpCommented:
That shouldn't be a problem. Lots of people run 32bit OSes on 64bit hardware ...
(as mentioned above)
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caiincAuthor Commented:
hunart/wolfje..it looks doable but another caveat. If I repartition and load 32bit xp and then sometime later decide to go back to the original config, i wouldn't be able to because of the repartition. I appreciate the input.
jc
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Michael_MCDSTCommented:
I you use the XP Mode suggestion the you will be doing virtualization of the OS in mind. Any "real" non virtual installation of a 32 or 64 architecture type will require a reformat. You cannot "go back" without the loss of data. Undetermined if you can do a dual boot scenario. Have you considered other virtualization solutions such as VMware?
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caiincAuthor Commented:
Michael-vmware is an option i have considered and may try it.
hunart-Acronis image is also a good idea and will also do that.
It appears even if we repartition we still have to get compatable drivers. i guess we'll just have to find the best work around for this specific user.
thanks to all for your input.
jc
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hunartCommented:
If I were you, I would go with the existing Windows 7 and just install the Windows XP Mode on top of it.  I have it installed in my system about a year now and it has been a life-saver for my legacy applications.  I can turn XP on and off as I wish and it takes no more than 1/2 hour to install it.  Also, it runs more efficient than a VM session in my laptop.  I had tried VM and did not like it because of the resources allocation.
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marsiliesCommented:
A few notes:

32-bit programs should run fine in 64-bit Windows. In fact, 64-bit Windows includes certain 32-bit programs (like Internet Explorer 32-bit) for backwards-compatibility. However, 16-bit programs will not run in 64-bit Windows, but will run in 32-bit Windows. A program would have to be pretty old to sill be 16-bit though.

There's probably a reason why the default install of Windows was 64-bit, which is likely the amount of RAM installed in the computer. If the computer has 4GB or more of RAM, 32-bit Windows will only be able to use, at most, around 3.5GB of that memory, and possibly less.

Also, Microsoft will stop Extended Support for XP on April 8, 2014. At that point, you'll have to upgrade to a newer version of Windows in order to keep getting security updates.

To make Windows 7 look more like XP, you can use the free Classic Shell:
http://classicshell.sourceforge.net/features.html
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hunartCommented:
It is true that some 32bit applications will run on 64bit OS; however, there are many 32bit applications, the majority of them will not run properly on 64bit OS!!
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marsiliesCommented:
@ hunart:

I would hardly say that the "majority" of 32-bit applications will not run properly in 64-bit Windows. I have a "Program Files (x86)" folder on my PC filled with 100 folders of 32-bit applications that I've run without incident. In fact, the only 32-bit program I had any trouble with was Adobe CS2, and that was because it didn't like the parenthesis in the name for "Program Files (x86)" (I ended up just installing it into a folder named "Adobe").

Typically, the problems with running an older 32-bit program comes with running it on a newer version of Windows, such as 7, instead of the fact that it's 64-bit. Microsoft of course still provides compatibility layers to help solve this, in both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7.
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QlemoBatchelor, Developer and EE Topic AdvisorCommented:
I back up the statement of marsilies - the majority of 32bit apps run on a 64bit OS. Everything needing special drivers is an issue; database access can be another, if you do not take care about what you install as DB drivers. It is a bit more complicated to go into the internals (registry and folders actually used) because of the folder virtualization/redirection performed for 32bit processes.

Using W7 should not be postponed too long, whether 32bit or 64bit does not matter much (if we ignore the memory limit).
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caiincAuthor Commented:
I appreciate all the input and various opinions.
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