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Is RAM on Windows 7 32 bit limited to 4GB by a license?

Posted on 2014-10-01
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Last Modified: 2014-10-01
I have a patch to enable PAE on Windows 7 32 bit to allocate more than 4GB of RAM. I was wondering if this would violate any of Microsoft's licenses/agreements. They show 4GB max for Windows 7 32, but for the server equivalent it's 128GB. The link for the patch is below. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't violating any licenses before I deployed this to a corporate environment.


Here's the patch:
http://wj32.org/wp/2013/10/25/pae-patch-updated-for-windows-8-1/
It's allowing me to get my full 16GB of RAM which is over Microsoft's advertised 4GB.
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Question by:jscott337
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by:John-Charles-Herzberg
ID: 40355178
4 GB is the maximum usable memory the 32-bit version can handle. While a 64-bit operating system can increase the capabilities of a processor drastically, the real jump in power comes from software designed with this architecture in mind.
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by:jscott337
ID: 40355183
However, with Physical Address Extension enabled you can have more than 4GB of RAM addressed, but not more than 4GB of RAM addressed per application. I guess my question really is does this violate a Terms of Use?
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by:John-Charles-Herzberg
ID: 40355187
No it will not.

While 32 bits of information can only access 4 GB of RAM, a 64-bit machine can access 17.2 BILLION gigabytes of system memory, banishing any limits far into the future. This also means that your video cards and other devices will not be stealing usable memory space from the operating system. Windows 64-bit Home editions are still limited to 16 GB of RAM for licensing reasons, but the Professional and Ultimate versions can use up to 192 GB of RAM, so keep that in mind when building that killer system.
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by:Qlemo
Qlemo earned 100 total points
ID: 40355195
You can't use PAE without a proper license - the Server Edition determines if it is available.
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by:jscott337
ID: 40355204
Qlemo, so by using that patch to bypass the 4GB RAM limit, I'm technically violating the License/TOU? Doesn't make much sense to me since x64 can utilize up to 192GB of RAM on the enterprise edition, but on my 32bit enterprise I'm LEGALLY limited to 4GB unless I had Windows Server?
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by:käµfm³d 👽
ID: 40355220
I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't violating any licenses before I deployed this to a corporate environment.
Not attempting to be snide, but shouldn't you be asking this question to your corporate attorney?
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 100 total points
ID: 40355242
That patch is not official by any means.  Installing it is hacking Windows to do something it wasn't built to do and that is a violation of the license agreement.

In my opinion it is foolish - stupid and dangerous - to install a "patch" that is not provided by either the product manufacturer or a well respected third party that can back it up with support.
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by:marsilies
marsilies earned 100 total points
ID: 40355253
This article states that PAE is limited on client versions of Windows via a licensing API, but it's not clear if circumventing this limit violates the license:
http://www.geoffchappell.com/notes/windows/license/memory.htm

I personally wouldn't risk it.

Is there some reason you can't run the 64-bit version of Windows 7? It uses the same license keys as 32-bit Windows 7.
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by:rindi
ID: 40355288
As leew already mentioned, it amounts to hacking the OS, and that is what isn't allowed. Why don't you just install the 64bit version of Windows 7?
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by:McKnife
McKnife earned 100 total points
ID: 40355291
The geoffchappell-link says it all. It is artificially limited and even called "licensed memory".
So if you go along and change that files so the forced restriction is no longer present, you ask "is this ok with Microsoft?" LOL? Well, of course not.
They have paragraphs in the EULAs that restrict things like reverse engineering and tampering/patching of system files.

You can however use free RAMdisk software legally that can address more than 4 GB of RAM. It will be properly used even by the OS if you redirect the pagefile to the RAMdisk.
I have done that, it improved performance and it is indeed legal.
The free RAMdisk software I used is however not meant for win7 but for earlier OS'. It was Romex' VSuite Ramdisk.
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by:jscott337
ID: 40355306
Thank you all for your input. The reason that I can't use 64 bit is due to application compatibility. There are a lot of proprietary applications that simply cannot be ran on 64 bit Windows. I figured I'd check in with a large community that probably deals with things like this. Speaking to a corporate attorney isn't really an option for me as I'm only a contractor and that's not my decision to make. So before I make a recommendation for something I wanted further information.
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käµfm³d   👽 earned 100 total points
ID: 40355312
The only thing I'd add is that at the end of the day, when you're sitting in your boss' office and he's asking you why Microsoft has pending litigation against the company for breach of contract, which will sound better:

Well, I went to this online forum, and this guy from Timbuktu... no wait, Sri Lanka.. aww heck, I don't know where he was from. Anyway, he tells me that it's OK for me to do X.
-OR-
The company lawyer said it was legal.
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by:jscott337
ID: 40355320
Kaufmed, I'm not disputing that at all. I agree that is the best route. I just wanted to see if it was already clearly laid out that it was not legal.
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by:jscott337
ID: 40355324
Thanks for the input!
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by:marsilies
ID: 40355341
For running legacy programs, have you looked into running them in a VM? That way the PC could have a 64-bit OS for the main OS, and the legacy programs run in a virtual 32-bit environment.  WIndows 7 originally had  the now-depreciated XP Mode option for this, but there's still ways to do this with a newer version of Windows as the VM.

I wouldn't trust legacy programs to run properly with PAE enabled anyway.
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by:jscott337
ID: 40355372
Unfortunately you run into even more licensing issues if you run Windows 7 32 in a VM you have to have another license for that. For Windows XP Mode you don't get Windows Updates anymore. In addition to that each machine has to have addition licensed software. I'm pushing for upgraded software though!
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by:rindi
ID: 40355425
I'd also check with that software whether it really only runs on a 32bit platform. I haven't seen much software that really can't be run on a 64 bit OS with a little tweaking. Actually the only issue I've seen is with drivers for obsolete hardware, but I don't really count drivers as software.
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by:jscott337
ID: 40355448
Some of them are 16bit applications which can't run under 64bit. Another one is an Autodesk application that is known to have compatibility issues with 64bit and no work around besides upgrading to a new version (costs money).
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