It amazes me (sometimes, but not always) how people can, in one instant, be so smart and informed about computer technology and software and yet, in the next sentence, be so completely off the mark that you can’t help but gasp in horror. (Okay, not really, but it at least gets a healthy rise of the eyebrow.) It seems that one of the major points of contention is 64-bit operating systems… Most people seem to agree that 64-bit lets you have more RAM, but then they go on to say “it only recognizes 3.5GB” or “nothing but 64-bit applications work” or something else that makes absolutely no sense, and, to make it worse, they just went on to say something brilliant in the paragraph before!

Vista is the best version of 64-bit Windows… XP was more of a hobbyist thing (and still is). I just want to straigten out a couple of things. First, 64-bit operating systems can address 4GB of memory total, period. That doesn’t mean just RAM and that doesn’t mean just video card RAM… It also means things like BIOS ROM, RAID cards, low level programs like keyboard controllers, and other things. 16kb here… 128kb there… If you have 1GB of video card RAM, the OS will only recognize a little less than 3GB of RAM. It’s not “64-bit lets you have 3.5″ it’s “64-bit lets you have 4GB of memory in your entire computer and system RAM takes the lowest priority of being counted”. Second, Vista 64 runs 32-bit applications just fine, thanks to an emulator similar to what XP has to run 16-bit applications. Unfortunately 64-bit doesn’t emulate 16-bit, so programs that you used when Windows 3.1 was the prime of the pack won’t work anymore… But let’s face it. People who use these programs at home should upgrade by now… People who use these programs at businesses haven’t upgraded because those in charge never justified the cost and this will help the employees in their quest for easier to use software when 32-bit becomes a thing of the past. (Now, to be perfectly honest, the 64-bit memory allocation is far, far, far more complicated than that, but I won’t get into that for the sake of your sanity.)

As such, if you buy a new computer RIGHT NOW? You should not consider a 32-bit operating system. Even now, 4GB is cheap enough to be expected in a computer you buy RIGHT NOW, and 64-bit is required to see all of that RAM. It doesn’t cost any more when you pick 64 over 32 and it offers many more advantages. Anyway… It’s people like these who make me think that I would be an AWESOME system builder and repair person. You know, I even caught someone saying that Vista SP1 was a piece of trash… In the spirit of my not believing stuff like this without proof, I asked them to provide links and numbers so I could see myself (I even linked them to the benchmarks that say Vista SP1 fixed graphics performance)… Of course, no response, but there’ve been a few others who jumped on my bandwagon with “what the heck are you talking about, man?”

What’s worse than a noob who claims something without giving proof? A noob who claims something without giving proof who thinks that all of us should take their word for it because they think they’re a professional… Ugh. No wonder Windows gets such a bad rap. Even the “pros” don’t understand computers.

Oh, and while we’re at it, a while ago, Slashdot ran with an article that spelled doom and gloom for the market share of Windows, and they were all praising the fact that Windows MIGHT drop below 90%, as if that is some sort of huge deal. They, of course, took the time to promote how Apple rose an entire 2% in the last year. (It’s funny that they didn’t note the 0.2% increase in Linux use… Not the exciting “year of Linux” everyone foretold in January, is it?) Well, if you’re going to use this chart to condemn Microsoft, you have to use the same numbers for everything. Can’t selectively say “Windows is failing” and then ignore “Linux is stuck”. Of course, these are liberal, anti-capitalist, open-source fanatics we’re talking about. They’ll pick and choose whatever they darn well please and the Slashdot “editors” won’t bother to check facts.

What I want to point out (which is what PCWorld was also keen to point out) is that over the last year, Vista has grown over 300%, from 4% to 16%. Now, this is just Vista, not “Windows”. The upgrade rate is growing steadily faster than Apple’s… People keep claiming that Vista is “dead” and that because Microsoft is already creating a new Windows, it means that Vista doesn’t have Microsoft’s own “blessing”. Absolute hogwash. Upgrades of this magnitude have always been slow… People wouldn’t upgrade to XP from 2000, but when they were finally forced to, they enjoyed it all the same. People don’t want to upgrade to Vista from XP, but those of us who are finally forced to decide it’s really not as bad as everyone says it is. Take it from me… Vista on a new, modern system (as it was designed for) is absolutely amazing. Vista upgrading from a computer that can barely run XP? Not so hot.

All part of my “please, use common sense, you clueless rabble” theme for this blog.

3 thoughts on “Vista

  1. Iaian7

    Agreed, 64bit is the future! Though if I’m not mistaken, 32bit applications can already address up to 4Gb each. Moving to 64bit (supported on all macs, including the old PPC G5) allows each application (or maybe just the OS?) to address over 16Tb at once. This isn’t altogether helpful right now, since even the Mac Pros can only physically hold 32Gb of RAM at a time. It does lay the groundwork for the next few years of breakthroughs though! And like I said, I could be remembering incorrectly… I’d link to the original data (posted by a programmer working in Cocoa) but it’s part of a beta I’m not really supposed to discuss outside of Newtek. :(

  2. Iaian7

    Ok, maybe none of the previous post applies here… OS X has been “mostly” 64bit for awhile, allowing it to manage large amounts of memory while leaving each application to run at 32bit or 64bit as they please. Actually, even Boot Camp supports 64bit versions of Windows… which is kinda cool. And kinda sad. I only have Vista 32bit. :(

  3. GermanShepherd Post author

    Well, at least according to my college classes, 32-bit technology can only address 4GB of memory total, and that means EVERYTHING. Not just RAM, but video RAM, BIOS, and any memory that expansion cards may have. Every kilobyte makes a difference. In Windows, so I’ve heard, but haven’t bothered to look up myself, 2GB maximum is allocated to a single application. So if you have 4GB in your system and 512MB of video RAM, you will have around 3.5GB of system RAM available to you. Out of that 3.5GB, only 2GB will ever be used by a single program unless you screw around with patching and cracking, and that leaves 1.5GB to everything else running in the background. I’m not sure of the numbers for 64-bit, but yes… 64-bit will allow for FAR MORE usable memory and FAR MORE system RAM that a single application can use.

    Also, if you have a Vista license, you can order a 64-bit disc from Microsoft… Think it’s somewhere around 10 dollars. (Shipping and handling, I guess.)

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