Why is there a 32-bit version of Vista?

Discussion in 'Windows Desktop Systems' started by the.quixotic, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. the.quixotic

    the.quixotic OSNN Junior Addict

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    With all the recent extensive delays in the development of Windows Vista, and growing concern at what compelling new features it will offer over the ageing XP, it strikes me as a suprise that Microsoft hasn't dropped support for 32-bit processors with Windows Vista. Think of it this way, if Microsoft didn't make a 32-bit version:

    - You could potentially shave about 6 months off the development time, if not more
    - Hardware/software vendors would have a single platform to develop drivers on. What I can see happening, it that vendors may decide there isn't a large enough audience running the 64-bit version of Vista, and you'll have the same situation as you have now with Windows XP x64 with regards to drivers and software.
    - Compatibility would still be maintained with 'legacy' 32-bit apps similarly to the way it has been in XP x64
    - As all Vista apps would be 64-bit, the system performance increase would be substantially greater
    - People would stand up and take notice: "Wow, this only works on 64-bit computers, it is actually something new."

    The only downside I can see is on the laptop front - only AMD64 and yet-unreleased Merom-based laptops could run it, however, pretty much only AMD64 and Merom based laptops would have the required performance for the full ‘Vista experience’.

    I cannot see a commercial disadvantage either – most personal and business users upgrade their operating systems with hardware, so 64-bit support won’t be a problem. Software Assurance customers will still be paying their annual subscription fees aswell.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2006
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  2. Perris Calderon

    Perris Calderon Moderator Staff Member Political User

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    from the start I've thought it was a mistake to work on the 32 bit version of vista, from a technical point of view, research vs. return it makes no sense to me at all.

    however from the more practicle economic point of view I suppose making it 64 only would alienate too many companies with legacy hardware they are happy with, they wouldn't make the jump

    that's the reason, they need corporate investment for it to be profitable
     
  3. the.quixotic

    the.quixotic OSNN Junior Addict

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    Do you think there is a large number of corporations intending to upgrade to Vista without upgrading their hardware?
     
  4. ElementalDragon

    ElementalDragon The One and Only

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    who said anything about large corporations? it's not only corporations that upgrade their OS. i'm sure there'll be a lot more of your average consumers out there who would like to upgrade to Vista without spending all the extra money on new hardware, than there are large corporations that would upgrade to vista and buy new hardware.
     
  5. Shamus MacNoob

    Shamus MacNoob Moderator Political User

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    Large and Medium corps are the main stay for Microsoft and that is what they work towards, corps will not like to be forced to change hardware just to run Vista so 32/64 makes sense.
     
  6. madmatt

    madmatt Bow Down to the King Political User

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    However, Microsoft has said Vista will be its last 32 bit OS.
     
  7. Shamus MacNoob

    Shamus MacNoob Moderator Political User

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    Which also makes sense looking at things now and saying 4 years is a lifespan of a pc in a workplace, all 32 bit systems will be out by the time we see another Microsoft OS.

    ps: 4 years is cycle we use at work for PC's I am sure some differ.
     
  8. LeeJend

    LeeJend Moderator

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    1) Installed base of 32 Bit computers is >95% of the machines out there.

    2) No big business is going to buy 100k new 64 bit desktops just to install a Beta level OS. (Yes Vista will still be Beta quality for 1-2 yeasr after it goes gold no matter what MS claims.)

    3) The difference between a 32 Bit and 64 bit version should be mininal. Some DLL's left out and a compile with different options set.

    MS has to recoup their 5 year development cost and pay for fixing the bugs found when Vista hits the general public. They can't do that selling to 5% of the market.
     
  9. Perris Calderon

    Perris Calderon Moderator Staff Member Political User

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    nice post lee

    there's the problem though

    there SHOULD be a HUGE differance between the operating systems, vista SHOULD betaking advantage of all that extra memory it's able to address on a 64 bit unit...these things should be able to walk and talk, there shuld be instant access to just about everything you've ever launched, with semi permanent address allocation assigned for every thing you've worked on...workig sets should be almist the entire program...that's what SHOULD be happening with vista

    every new box could be distributed with more then 4 gigs of memory by the time vista is sold and I really think they have wasted tons of r&d creating the legasy end of the os

    however, leejend is right, it wouldn't be economically practical
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2006
  10. ming

    ming OSNN Advanced

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    There are a lot of pc owners that run P4 and AthlonXP that might want to get their hands on a copy of Vista without having to splash out on a whole new system. Not sure how that'll work out, coz it seems stupid to spend hundreds of £/$ on just the OS when you can get a new system that's 64-bit ready with Vista pre-installed.
     
  11. emeritus

    emeritus Beware the Monkeys!!!

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    Face it, most people do not have the money, to upgrade their hardware, at the drop of a hat. Hell, look at my system specs. I would have to upgrade my motherboard, cpu, ram and video card. Last time I checked I am not independently wealthy. So, right now a 32-bit OS still makes sense from MS. In 2-4 years I will have a 64-bit system, and in that time more games and apps will actually take advantage of it. Remember you have to give the game and app developers a chance to catch up, also!
     
  12. Shamus MacNoob

    Shamus MacNoob Moderator Political User

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    I am running Vista on a machine alot less powerfull then the one in your sig and it runs fine. It even uses intergrated graphics ... so I am sure you could run Vista no problems ... of course 32bit that is:)
     
  13. LeeJend

    LeeJend Moderator

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    It's been a long time since I programmed for Windows but allocatable memory size for structures, etc should just be a changing the compiler directives. I made the step from 16 BIT on 8088 to pseudo 20 BIT on 80286 to real 32 BIT on the 386 and up and it was all in the compilers more than the code. There really are not that many differences between the 32 and 64 BIT instruction sets.

    I've actually been surprised by the constant delays in Vista and lack of hardware vendor driver support. I know there was an Intel-AMD 64 BIT standards fuss at the begining but MS put their foot down and told Intel there was only going to be one 64 BIT code set. That was 30 months ago I think.

    On the other hand if they are writing in C++ that could be part of the problem. Object Oriented projects at work have kinda backfired. The code ends up bulkier and slower than desired then you have to do iterations to re-optimize it. i.e. work around the inefficiencies built in by the OO compiler. With a clean sheet write of the code for Vista this is one big ass effort.
     
  14. the.quixotic

    the.quixotic OSNN Junior Addict

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    I can see a similar problem brewing here as currently exists with XP though. Say at the beginning, the uptake of Vista is 75% 32-bit and 25% 64-bit. A lot of smaller manufacturers, and those who don't particularly care about higher-end users (no names) will just say "I will just develop 32-bit drivers", but perhaps more importantly, application developers will say "well it runs fine in 32-bit, why write a 64-bit one and go to the trouble of supporting that". If that happens, even higher end users will step back and probably think its a better idea to purchase 32-bit Vista, due to better all round app/driver support, even if they have a 64-bit system - and you'll just end up with another Windows XP Professional x64 - great os, hardly used.

    I do realise it is very important to recoup the US$9billion development cost of Vista, and 32-bit would probably increase the uptake initially - however, I would think that 3 years down the track, businesses and consumers would have all upgraded at some point to 64-bit machine + os, AND you would have greater customer satisfaction and reduced confusion.

    P.S. I am part of the Vista Connect beta tester group, and I love running the 32-bit version on my slowly dying Athlon XP :)
     
  15. LeeJend

    LeeJend Moderator

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    Good point Quixotic. I just had a flash back to Windows 2000. Great improvement form 98/ME/NT but suffered miserably for 2 years from a lack of drivers. Then XP came out which was bacically 2000 with driver support and "support for dummies".

    So that puts the real, user friendly, consumer release of 64 Bit out in 2009, sigh...
     
  16. kop48

    kop48 OSNN Addict

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    Actually, there IS a pretty big difference in the internals of the 64 bit Vista vs 32 bit.
    http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/winvista_ff_x64.asp
    The BIG difference being running code integrity and protection. Not allowing buffer overruns at the Kernel level is a pretty big jump on current windows.

    Also, Windows XP was a little more forgiving on drivers than 2000, hence why more worked with it. I had lots of problems with Win2k, but very few with XP.

    Basically, though, it's pretty expensive to redo EVERY 32bit application so that your consumers can run it in x64. A four-year cycle should give all main manufacturers time to port as well as the minor applications (read: utilities) time to port over as well. From then on, the overlap with the new OS and Vista should give people the transition time they need.

    The last problem with 64bit is that it REQUIRES driver signing. This means cheaper manufacturers will start being dropped out of the loop and you'll have to pay more for hardware. This is because WHQL certification is EXPENSIVE. I guess it's good and bad. It'll cost less overall since you won't spend so much time troubleshooting as a bunch of experts will have done that for you, but you have to pay more for hardware... At least going to 64bit means that a lot of manufacturers who have been rehashing drivers as 'new' builds without fixing things will finally go over their code (*cough* Creative *cough*).

    So, in a Utopic world, we should be going to 64bit NOW. In the real world, it can't be done so quickly unless developers and manufacturers want to earn no money for two years. :p
     
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