Unless you’ve been living under a rock (no offense to any earthworms or roaches reading this article), you’ve probably heard about Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 7. And, if you’ve somehow navigated to this article, you’ve probably decided to upgrade. Congratulations. Windows 7 is a really good OS, probably the best version of Windows to date.
However, you may have noticed two sets of requirements out there for Windows 7; a 32 bit and a 64 bit version. What’s more, there are separate versions of the OS. What does this mean? Which version do you need?
Never fear. It’s actually very simple. Here’s a quick guide to deciding whether to buy the 32 bit or 64 bit version of Windows 7.
What’s The Difference? – You might have no idea what the difference is between Windows 7 32 bit and Windows 7 64 bit. Never fear, it’s a common problem. Basically, a 64 bit operating system utilizes more RAM (Random Access Memory) to deliver a faster experience, just as a 32 bit system delivered a faster experience when compared with an old 16 bit system. The problem is that if you don’t have the hardware to support a 64 bit operating system, you’ll experience some fairly significant issues (uh, nothing will work, to keep it short).
Most programs and hardware before about 2004 were designed for a 32 bit system. However, 64 bit operating systems like Windows 7 can run those programs, though the hardware’s up to the company that made it. More on this in a minute. Basically, Windows 7 will run much faster, as much as 10% faster, if you decide to use the 64 bit version, but if your computer can’t handle it, you’re not going to be gaining anything. Let’s take a look at whether your computer can handle it.
What You’ll Need – You need a 64 bit processor in order to run Windows 7 64 Bit. Most modern computers have a 64 bit processor, but you can check by going into your Control Panel, clicking on Hardware and going to the Device Manager to scope what kind of processor you’re running.
Here’s the problem: all other hardware that your computer uses needs to have a 64 bit “driver” (the driver is the file that tells the computer how to use the hardware). Microsoft doesn’t make the drivers for third party hardware, and many companies don’t support 64 bit Windows 7 yet. So say, for instance, that your computer’s new but your sound card is about four years old. There’s a significant chance that Windows 7 64 bit would be a bad install, as your sound card wouldn’t work properly.
You’ll want to avoid Windows 7 64 bit if you’ve got an older system, period, but if you’re still game, be sure to research your hardware and make sure that your drivers will work with a 64 bit operating system. If you’ve got a 64 bit laptop or a new computer, you’ll probably see big speed gains by opting for 64 bit Windows 7 over 32 bit Windows 7.
Do you have any other questions about the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows 7? Post in our comments section below.