Over at the Windows Vista Team Blog, seems that their statistics are showing that Vista 64 bit is gaining users. According to Chris Flores, Microsoft has noticed an increase in 64 bit machines connecting to Windows update. In fact the number of machines using 64 bit has tripled in the US during the past 3 months. On the blog it also states:

64-bit PCs running 64-bit editions of Windows Vista typically have 4GB of memory or more. Compared to 32-bit systems, which top out at around 3GB of memory, 64-bit PCs can offer added responsiveness when running a lot of applications at the same time and have the potential for greater performance and new experiences as next-generations applications are written to take advantage of this new platform.

What started out as a gradual (some would say “glacial”) movement toward 64-bit PCs, driven primarily by technology enthusiasts, seems to have turned into a swift transition, likely fueled by the falling cost of memory and consumers’ desire to get the most out of their PCs.

This change begs a few questions:

Is the 64 bit market ready to go mainstream?

Will consumers realize the benefits from larger chips and 4GB or more of memory?

The answer to both of these questions is yes – but a qualified yes.

Preconfigured 64-bit PCs obtained from retailers or PC manufacturers should work quite well.  This is in stark contrast to the experience of many technology enthusiasts who built their 64-bit PC from scratch and may have had to scour the Web looking for drivers.  So, unless you really love to tinker with your PC, we suggest you buy a pre-built 64-bit PC at retail or directly from a PC manufacturer.

The hardware requirements, more RAM, is higher than even for the 32 bit systems. This seems to indicate that 4G, maybe even more, is needed to run 64 bit applications. So how much RAM is enough for consumer systems?

What do you think? Is going 64 bit worth the added cost of more RAM?

Comments welcome.