Compare 32-bit (x86) And 64-bit (x64) Versions Of Vista

Microsoft offers Windows Vista OS in both 32-bit as well as 64-bit versions, which are more often termed as x86 and x64 respectively by Microsoft. The 64-bit Windows Vista version is widely chosen by most of the users as majority of motherboards and CPU processors nowadays are x64 based and are competent in running 64-bit OS.

However, sometimes consumers have a hard time deciding whether to pick a 32-bit (x86) or a 64-bit (x64) version of Vista. To make the task simple, Microsoft presents the consumers with KB946765 which contains the details of the key differences between 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) version of Vista OS.

The differences listed are mainly in regards to memory management, enhanced security and memory accessibility features.

1) System Requirements

32-bit (x86) Version: This version requires 1 GHz (gigahertz) 32-bit or 64-bit processor and 512 Megabytes (MB) of Random-Access Memory (RAM).

64-bit (x64) Version: This version requires 1 GHz (gigahertz) 64-bit (x64) processor and 1 Gigabyte (GB) of RAM (the recommended RAM however is 4 GB)

2) Memory Access

32-bit (x86) Version: This version has a capacity of accessing up to 4 Gigabytes of RAM.

64-bit (x64) Version: This version has a capacity of accessing RAM from 1 Gigabyte to over 128 Gigabytes.

3) Memory Access per Edition

32-bit (x86) Version: All 32-bit (x86) Windows Vista versions are able to access RAM of up to 4 Gigabytes.  

64-bit (x64) Version: Incase of 64-bit Windows Vista versions,

Vista Home Basic Edition can access 8 Gigabytes of RAM.

Vista Home Premium Edition can access 16 Gigabytes of RAM.

Vista Business Edition, Vista Enterprise Edition and Vista Ultimate Edition can access more than 128 Gigabytes of RAM.

4) Data Execution Prevention (DEP)

32-bit (x86) Version: The 32-bit version uses software-based version of Data Execution Prevention.

64-bit (x64) Version: The 64-bit version supports hardware-backed Data Execution Prevention.

5) Kernel Patch Protection (KPP) or PatchGuard

32-bit (x86) Version: The KPP feature is unavailable in 32-bit (x86) Version of Vista.

64-bit (x64) Version: This feature exists in 64-bit (x64) Version of Vista. KPP prevents any malicious program/ software from updating (patching) the Vista Kernel. It basically prevents kernel-mode driver from replacing or extending other kernel services. KPP also prevents third-party applications from updating any part of Vista Kernel.

6) Driver Signing

32-bit (x86) Version: 32-bit (x86) Windows Vista Version may use unsigned drivers.  

64-bit (x64) Version: 64-bit (x64) Version does not entertain any unsigned drivers and requires digitally signed drivers for all devices. The developer needs to sign these drivers digitally.

7) 32-bit Driver Support

32-bit (x86) Version: All 32-bit drivers designed for use with Windows Vista are supported by the 32-bit (x86) version.

64-bit (x64) Version: This version does not support any 32-bit drivers.

8) 16-bit Program Support

32-bit (x86) Version: 32-bit (x86) version partly supports 16-bit programs.

64-bit (x64) Version: 64-bit (x64) version does not support any 16-bit programs.

By looking at the advantages and benefits, if you feel that 64-bit Windows Vista version is good enough for a switch over, you might like to consider the below mentioned points before you come to the final decision of installing x64 Windows Vista.

  1. You might not find 64-bit device drivers for some devices in the PC.
  2. All device drivers need to be digitally signed.
  3. 16-bit programs might not be completely compatible with x64 version
  4. 64-bit (x64) version does not support any 32-bit device drivers.
  5. You might have difficulties finding the programs that are specifically intended for 64-bit OS.
  6. Some hardware devices might not be compatible with x64 version of Vista.


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