Until I purchased my latest computer, I had never given much thought to the difference between the 32-bit and the 64-bit versions of Windows. In fact, since I had been using the 32-bit version of Windows since Microsoft first introduced Windows 95, I had never experienced a need to upgrade to the 64-bit OS — despite the knowledge that my previous laptop’s processor supported it. I had even found the need to upgrade negligible when I began using Microsoft’s Windows 7 Ultimate since I was satisfied with running Windows 7 in 32-bit mode. By running my system in this mode, I also found I had no difficulty using Windows XP to operate an older program that I had installed in the days before Windows XP came out.

My satisfaction with the 32-bit system and the way it interfaced with my existing software was obvious when I chose to download the entirety of my antiquated computer system’s program library in preparation for its installation onto my new laptop. However, while I had been careful in my preparations to ensure that this download would result in my new system mimicking my old one, I had not thought about the new laptop arriving pre-installed with the Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium version complete with SP1 revision software. As soon as I saw this, I knew that if I wanted to take advantage of the Windows XP mode, I needed to install either the Professional or the Ultimate version of Windows 7. Obviously, then, that meant that my first order of business was to upgrade the new laptop to Windows 7 Ultimate with SP1 with 64-bit support. The upgrade took only a few minutes and went off without any issues.

Problem 1

Mistakes I Made Changing from 32-bit Windows 7 to 64-bit Windows 7After I finished the upgrade, I installed Windows XP mode from a CD I had made back in 2010. Once again, the installation appeared to go perfectly. So what’s the problem? Simple: Even though it appeared to be installed correctly, XP mode would not activate. The hourglass just continued to spin and spin, but nothing happened.

Thinking that maybe there was an easy fix out there, I went to Microsoft’s site for installing Windows XP mode and learned two things:

  • There is a 64-bit version of Windows XP mode
  • If you have Windows 7 with SP1, the install process has changed.

With this information in hand, I downloaded the new file, uninstalled the old Windows XP mode, and then re-installed the new file, and all was well.

Microsoft Windows Virtual PC has more information about Windows XP mode.

Problem 2

Before I proceed, let me explain that while I use a software called One Click DVD Copy, it is not being done to circumvent any copyright laws. One Click DVD Copy requires DVD43 to function properly and, when activated, can make copies of homemade DVD movies. However, before reloading it onto my new system, I had downloaded and installed what I thought was a fresh copy of DVD43 only to find that my One Click DVD Copy failed to function.

At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was the One Click DVD Copy software or DVD 43 that wasn’t working properly. Upon searching the Internet, however, I was able to locate a 64-bit copy of the DVD43 plug-in. Once this plug-in was in place, the One Click DVD Copy software worked without a hitch.

Problem 3

The next issue I encountered was when I attempted to install and sync my iTunes account with the new laptop.

Everything seemed copacetic until I tried to download the iTunes purchases to my Apple iPad. Once I did this, you would have thought my system was going to have a nervous breakdown. I lost my USB connection and my hard disk sounded like it was going to jump out of the laptop. However, as soon as I uninstalled iTunes, the system returned to normal operation. Obviously, I was disappointed as I had never had such issues with iTunes when using the 32-bit system.

I am not alone, though, since I have read other reviewers who claim to have experienced a similar problem. That sent me on a quest to find a solution that would allow me to download iTunes with 64-bit support. (Success!)

Problem 4

This issue occurred with my Microsoft Wireless Notebook Mouse 3000. It appeared that the auto setup installation was flawless, but the next morning when I booted up my system, the mouse didn’t work.

This is the same mouse I had been using on the old laptop and the only issue I had ever experienced was the need to replace the battery. Of course, then, my first thought was that I needed to check the battery — which I did. It was well charged, so I tried changing USB ports to see if one of them was not working properly. Still no mouse.

That meant that once again I had to set off on a quest to find the hidden answer as to why my mouse wouldn’t work on my new system. After searching through the mother lode of available material out there, I once again found what I needed at Microsoft’s site where I downloaded and installed the 64-bit version of the software for this particular mouse and it now works perfectly.

Looking back on these minor issues, and acknowledging that the majority of new laptops come with the Windows 64-bit pre-installed on them, I have to admit that Microsoft has done a very good job at getting software and hardware companies to offer 64-bit software or drivers for this rendition of Windows. I personally believe that the benefits of using a 64-bit version of Windows far outweigh any negativity or issues that may occur.

Regarding the 64-bit version of Windows that came pre-installed, I was asked the following question:

I read that the new laptop you purchased came with Windows 7 64-bit. I have Windows 7 Home Premium with 32-bit and I want to upgrade to 64-bit. Can I upgrade over the old version?

The answer to this question is, unfortunately, no. The 64-bit version of Windows 7 requires you to start with a clean install. Personally, unless you have a free weekend to kill, I see no benefit to installing the 64-bit version unless you are adding more than 3 GB of RAM to your computer. I also informed the person asking the question that the 64-bit version has been offered by Microsoft since Windows XP was released for home use. In addition, you must remember that your CPU must support 64-bit or it will not work. I received this reply back:

I have a 32-bit processor. 🙁

So for him, my answer was discouraging, but for others of you out there who may be considering upgrading your system to a Windows 7 64-bit or are planning on buying a new computer with Windows 7 64-bit pre-installed, you may wish to check out the Microsoft Compatibility Center. The company lists all compatible software that will run on Windows 7 including which software products are 64-bit compatible. The list is quite extensive.

Comments welcome.