Life beyond 32-bits
Latest compute power offered on the most recent processors only allows 64-bit computing as a result 64-bit is gaining popularity as the OS of choice. Many migration projects are looking at making the switch to 64-bit computing as part of their move to Windows 7. When migrations are doing an in-place conversion from Windows XP 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit, teams should review the hardware deployed to ensure there aren’t any hidden workstations that don`t have 64-bit capability.
In the past, 64-bit operating systems have typically enforced a pure 64-bit environment including all applications that are installed. The traction of 64-bit computing is still building with application developers as many continue to shy away from maintaining dual versions of their code. However, 32-bit compatibility mode is available on Windows 7 to keep some of those legacy apps running within the 64-bit environment.
There are some restrictions. There are no interactions allowed between 32-bit applications and 64-bit applications. Therefore, in some cases this may require the installation of both versions of an application to keep some software interactions working. Also if your 32-bit application contains any even older 16-bit components, drivers or code, then these applications will fail. These legacy applications will work normally on the 32-bit operating system as they did on XP if they pass all of the other compatibility requirements.
From a support perspective, 64-bit computing should be considered as an ‘all or none’ decision. If there are compelling reasons to leave any portion of the fleet on the 32-bit edition of Windows 7, then it should be seriously considered to maintain 32-bit as the operating standard. Mixing 32 and 64-bit editions of the OS and applications will create added support issues and confusion with helpdesk staff.