Windows 7 is available in both 32-bit (x-86) and 64-bit(x-64) versions. The Windows 7 package that you buy includes both 32-bit and 64-bit installation discs. Though all computers are compatible with 32-bit Windows, not all are compatible with 64-bit Windows.
32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7
32 bit (x86) and 64 bit (x64) refer to the way a computer’s CPU (processor), handles information. The primary reason for using a 64-bit version of Windows is its ability to handle large amounts of random access memory (RAM). It is preferable to run the 64-bit(x64) version of windows 7 when random access memory (RAM) installed on your computer is 4 GB or more. Since a 64-bit operating system can handle large amounts of memory, it can be more responsive when you run several programs simultaneously and switch between them frequently.
How to find out whether the computer is running or capable of running 64-bit Windows 7
To find out if the computer is currently running Windows 7 32-bit edition or Windows 7 64-bit edition nd whether the processor is capable of running 64-bit Windows 7 (or 64-bit Windows Vista), you may do the following.
- 1. Click “Start” and in the box labeled “Search Programs and Files” enter “Performance Information and Tools” and press “ENTER” on the keyboard. From the list of results, click “Performance Information and Tools“.
- 2. If you are on Windows 7, click “View and print detailed performance and system information”. If you are on Windows Vista, click “View and print details”.
- 3. In the section labeled “System”, you can find the type of operating system that you’re running currently against the item labeled “System type”. Its value will either be “64-bit operating system” or “32-bit operating system”. If you are running a “32-bit operating system”, you will find an item labeled “64-bit capable” that shows whether you can run a 64-bit version of Windows or not. Note that if you are already running 64-bit Windows 7 or Vista, you will not find the “64-bit capable” listing.
In Windows XP, do the following:
- 1. Click “Start”.
- 2. Right-click “My Computer” and then click “Properties”. In the “Properties” dialog, if “x64 Edition” is listed under “System”, the processor is capable of running a 64-bit version of Windows. If you don’t find “x64 Edition” listed, your processor might still be capable of running a 64-bit version of Windows. You may download and run the free Windows 7 Upgrade Installation Advisor to ascertain it.
Most programs designed for the 32-bit version of Windows will work on the 64-bit version of Windows. However, there are a few notable exceptions like antivirus programs and Device drivers designed for the 32-bit version.
However, if the program is specially designed for the 64-bit version of Windows, it will not work on the 32-bit version of Windows. The same holds true for Device drivers designed for the 64-bit version of Windows.
Find out how to check whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit Windows XP or Vista.
To learn more about Windows 7, download the free >Windows 7 guide from Microsoft.