64-bit processors have been around for a long time now. Unlike the move to 32-bit processors, the move to 64-bit processors has been sluggish. In fact, if the move goes any slower, we’ll still be using 32-bit processors ten years (or more) from now. The main reason that the move to 64-bit processors has been so incredibly slow is that users are basically happy with their 32-bit setups. There isn’t any compelling application that makes the move to a 64-bit environment necessary, or even desirable. So, we still have 32-bit Windows XP enjoying a huge market share. It wasn’t until October 2010 that its market share finally fell below 60 percent.
However, the environment is beginning to change for a number of reasons. For one thing, Windows XP is becoming less secure as Microsoft starts to view it as an old OS past its prime. Yes, you still get security updates for Windows XP, but it’s only a matter of time before those updates become ineffective; the platform is simply becoming outdated and hard to maintain.
Anyone who has worked with Vista knows that the platform has problems. In fact, I tried my best not to work with it unless absolutely necessary. Windows 7 is a different story. I’ve been using it now for quite a few months without any problems at all. In fact, except for a few problem applications, I don’t even notice the Windows 7 differences any longer; it has become part of the background for me, as it has become part of the background for many people.
Windows 7 works best as a 64-bit operating system. I tried it as a 32-bit operating system and found that it lacked pep. A memory upgrade and moving to Windows 7 64-bit have made all the difference in the world. I now consider Windows 7 a true upgrade to Windows XP and hope that people begin moving to it en masse soon.
Microsoft has also made the move to 64-bits in some of the server products it offers. For example, Microsoft Exchange comes only as a 64-bit product now, as does SharePoint. Consequently, many organizations are beginning the arduous upgrade to 64-bit operating systems on their servers, and are bringing up other features into it during this upgrade process, such as those available from Bamboo Solutions and other providers.
Using a 64-bit setup does have significant advantages. Of course, there is the availability of additional memory to consider. It’s also possible to perform certain code optimizations on a 64-bit system that you can’t achieve using 32-bits. Of course, if you want to obtain the full benefits of a 64-bit platform, you need 64-bit applications. Some developers are worried about the consequences of this move and for good reason. Making the move to the 64-bit environment is fraught with unexpected pitfalls. My latest article, “10 Biggest Issues for Developers Migrating 32-bit Applications to 64-bits”, explains some of the most common problems that developers encounter when moving their applications to the 64-bit environment. Give it a read and let me know what you think at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.