Half of Windows 7 machines running 64-bit version

Nearly half of the computers running Windows 7 are using the 64-bit version, according to Microsoft.

Half of Windows 7 machines running 64-bit version

That’s a huge leap from the Vista era. While 46% of Windows 7 computers are on the 64-bit version, just 11% of Vista machines were running it three and a half years after launch. XP saw fewer than 1% ditching the 32-bit version.

With Windows 7, running a 64-bit OS is becoming the norm

“With Windows 7, running a 64-bit OS is becoming the norm,” said Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc in a blog post.

The 32-bit version of Windows 7 supports an upper limit of 4GB RAM, while the 64-bit edition allows a whopping 192GB RAM. “Aside from the performance gains, there are also security enhancements and support for virtualisation as well,” LeBlanc noted.

Microsoft says the move to 64-bit architecture is driven not by Windows 7, but by advances in hardware.

“The first [reason] is the price of memory has dropped over the last several years, making it easier for OEMs to up the amount of memory in the PCs they ship. And most major processors in PCs today are capable of running a 64-bit OS. There are also more and more compatible devices and applications for PCs running 64-bit Windows 7,” LeBlanc said.

Indeed, software may prove to be the main hurdle in moving PCs to the 64-bit architecture. While Microsoft is pushing the 64-bit version of Windows, it earlier this year advised users to install the 32-bit version of Office 2010, “because currently many common add-ins for Office will not function in the 64-bit edition”.

The 64-bit architecture first hit PCs in 2003, in the form of AMD’s Opteron processor.

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