back to article The end really is nigh – for 32-bit Windows 10 on new PCs

Microsoft has revealed that it’s no longer allowing original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to pre-install 32-bit Windows 10. The change was slipped into an old minimum hardware requirements page, with the following text: * Beginning with Windows 10, version 2004, all new Windows 10 systems will be required to use 64-bit …

  1. Andytug

    Probably just as well, given how much RAM it uses..

    4GB limit doesn't leave much for apps and programs...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably just as well, given how much RAM it uses..

      Say's someone who has never heard of PAE: see here

      1. Jon 37

        Re: Probably just as well, given how much RAM it uses..

        Windows 10 32-bit doesn't support more than 4GB of RAM, even with PAE.

        Microsoft originally enabled PAE to support >4GB RAM on 32-bit desktop systems. (IIRC, this was back in the WinXP days). However, when people started using it, they discovered that many drivers crashed if there was >4GB RAM, because they were doing things like storing addresses in 32-bit variables etc. As a result, they issued a patch that limited all 32-bit desktop systems to ~3.5GB RAM. Although PAE might be enabled to support other features like NX, any RAM that would not fit into the normal 4GB address space would be ignored.

        32-bit Windows Server systems could have >4GB RAM using PAE. Microsoft figured that the companies that make server hardware are the sort of companies that would fix their drivers to support PAE. The companies that make consumer hardware are often not that kind of company.

        See:

        https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/win32/memory/memory-limits-for-windows-releases

        "X86 client versions of Windows don’t support physical memory above the 4GB mark"

        Also see a long, technical explanation written at the time by someone who thought MS should have enabled PAE even though it caused crashes. (I respectfully disagree with his opinions - I think MS did the right thing - but I greatly respect his technical investigations and his thorough documentation of this issue):

        https://www.geoffchappell.com/notes/windows/license/memory.htm

      2. dave 81

        Re: Probably just as well, given how much RAM it uses..

        PAE has been around since the Pentium pro, and Microsux Windblows has never supported it for the desktop.

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Probably just as well, given how much RAM it uses..

          PAE was supported on Windows XP, Vista and 7 (as well as Server 2003 and 2008).

      3. JoeCool

        Sentence two

        "Certain 32-bit versions of Windows Server running on x86-based systems can use PAE ... "

        That's not describing a generally available solution

      4. Martipar

        Re: Probably just as well, given how much RAM it uses..

        Have you tried turning on PAE in Windows? On this PC (which was running Win 7 32-bit which got upgrade to Win 10 32-bit during the free upgrade period) I followed the steps to enable it, it failed, i ran a 3rd party PAE fix program which only runs on certain builds and mine was already above that build, However there was one for my build available but i had to compile it from source (as a part-time Linux user i've done this sort of thing before) so I download Visual Studio community, download 4-5GB of libraries compile. Halt. Need other program which also needs compiling then compile PAE program. No go, it failed.

        I gave in, went on Amazon and purchased Win10 64 bit OEM. On Linux you can install either the standared or PAE kernel from the package manager, why on Windows can't there be a nice big button with PAE On/Off on it? PAE is nice in theory but turning it on in Windows is a right PITA.

        I spent a full day fiddling, tweaking, compiling, downloading and nothing worked - it was a complete waste of time and yet i know this processor supports PAE, it's run Linux PAE without issue and it shouldn't be a exerciser in hoop jumping to get it running on Windows.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge

          Re: Probably just as well, given how much RAM it uses..

          "On this PC (which was running Win 7 32-bit which got upgrade to Win 10 32-bit during the free upgrade period) I followed the steps to enable it, it failed" [...] "I gave in, went on Amazon and purchased Win10 64 bit OEM."

          Once your Win7 was upgraded to Win10 (via the free period that still continues, btw!) your PC gained a Windows 10 license, and that license doesn't limit you to 32- or 64-bitness. You could have just downloaded 64-bit Win10 media without throwing any money at Microsoft or Amazon.

          1. Martipar

            Re: Probably just as well, given how much RAM it uses..

            Well i did try that and it failed, it wouldn't allow me to upgrade to the 64-bit version. Maybe it was because i upgraded in the Win 7 environment rather than starting a fresh install but i assure you i did give that a go.

            1. kain preacher

              Re: Probably just as well, given how much RAM it uses..

              You can;t upgrade 32 bit wiows to 64 bit. You have to do a clean install

  2. Dave K Silver badge

    Amazed it took them this long

    I'm honestly surprised it took them this long. Pretty much the only people using 32bit Windows these days are either existing people with older PCs, or some machines in certain circumstances that run applications/hardware that doesn't support 64bit Windows (possibly an ancient 16bit app). These are unlikely in home use and mainly just in some certain business situations, plus for these the 32bit media is still available for companies to install.

    Either way, no reason at all for PC makers to pre-install 32bit Windows 10 with their kit in this day and age.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazed it took them this long

      Worth noting too, that if you are still using an older 32bit processor, many of those machines (even laptops) probably have a socketed CPU, so are upgradable if push comes to shove (money), and someone needs to make do, compared to the cost of jumping ship to 10th Gen Intel and all the additional problems that might create.

      Let's not create more landfill crud for the sake of it.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Amazed it took them this long

      32-bit works as a test VM, smaller download. Definitely NOT a "daily driver". But Win-10-nic isn't a "daily driver" for me ANYWAY and until MS stops supporting 32-bit applications running on that platform [which they probably will some day, when they DUMP the Win32 API and kill ALL backward compatibility and non-TIFKAM applications FOREVER] I'll continue to use the 32-bit version to test things, as needed...

      Not so strangely, you can find 32-bit versions of Linux and FreeBSD if you need a 32-bit OS. Not so amazingly, they run just fine on systems with less than 4G of RAM. And those systems, amazingly enough, ALSO seem to work just fine for a LOT of things, as long as you're not running something *PIGGY*.

      Last year, at an "at that time" Win-10-nic-only shop, I was tasked to work on integration of a system that used an RPi to control things [naturally running Linux on the RPi]. As they only had windows machines, I brought in an old (2003-ish) Toshiba laptop that had Linux on it to do the editing, since ssh and "remote X11" worked really well, AMAZINGLY well, on a laptop with ~500M of RAM running about 1Ghz. About the only thing it would NOT do was run Firefox because FF has become such a PIG even on Linux...

      (seeing me use a 17 year old laptop to do my work more effectively than with a brand new Win-10-nic box, they soon handed me a Win-10-nic box to be turned into a Linux box - I put Devuan on it). And of course, having Linux was absolutely necessary for creating RPi SD card images.

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Amazed it took them this long

        Not saying there isn't still a market for 32bit Windows, this is about MS discontinuing the OEM "pre-installed" Win10 32bit images. Retail/volume license versions still continue, so no issues with using Win10 32bit on an older machine, VM etc.

      2. Def Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Amazed it took them this long

        So what you're saying is your comfort level with technology grounded itself around 2003?

        1. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: Amazed it took them this long

          Mine did, give or take a few years. Bur he did really well there.

      3. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Amazed it took them this long

        "FF has become such a PIG"

        To be fair, I'd lay a lot of the blame for that at the feet of web developers. Even a simple webpage these days is full of megabytes of javascript and ads.

        1. Morten Bjoernsvik

          Re: Amazed it took them this long

          "FF has become such a PIG"

          Blame it on Rust, the clue to its speed is to do clever mallocs which requires memory:

          https://www.reddit.com/r/rust/comments/9m2dwo/noob_question_why_are_rust_binaries_so_big/

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: no reason at all for PC makers to pre-install 32bit Windows 10

      Too cheap tablets?

    4. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Amazed it took them this long

      I dont think the reason is the PC , there CANT be many 32 bit laptops left , more likely people , probly even in industry have installed 32 bit on newer hardware out of some paranoia about compatitbility

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Amazed it took them this long

        Nah just to lazy to recreate their master image for building is my experience.

    5. Martipar

      Re: Amazed it took them this long

      To add to your point there is no reason why chip manufacturers should still be producing consumer 32-bit processors. I'm not old enough to remember but surely they had stopped producing 16-bit desktop processors at this point in the 32-bit era?

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Amazed it took them this long

        The transition from 16-32 bit was way faster.

        I have a 10 yo laptop and a brand new laptop next to each other. Both by the way have 64bit chips. You will be able to work out which one is the new laptop, but compared to any other decade in the history of computing, the difference between them isn’t that huge. Other than running multiple virtual machines at the same time, most things I do, I can do on either laptop.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Amazed it took them this long

          "The transition from 16-32 bit was way faster."

          Really? The 386 was 1985. The first mass-market version of Windows that was truly 32-bit all the way through was Win2K, about 15 years later. *Intel*'s first AMD64 chip was the Pentium 4 (2000) and the first "consumer" edition of Windows that was available in 64-bit form is debatable. I ran XP64 quite happily, but others complained bitterly about the drivers. Vista had a 64-bit flavour, but does that really count as an OS? Let's pretend the first was Win7-64, which would have been less than a decade later.

          But are we talking about the OS or the apps? You could run 32-bit apps on Windows 3.1, long before the 32-bit OS was widely available. In contrast, most of us are still running 32-bit apps on our 64-bit Windows editions.

  3. John Sager

    Linux desktop for decades

    I used Mac, SunOs (not Solaris) and Linux in that order as a desktop at work since the 80s, though I did have a Win3.1 laptop for a while until I could put Linux on the HP one I then got. My colleagues were a mix of Linux and Windows to taste. It's true we were techs so 'office productivity' was secondary to tech productivity and we often built our own tools. Linux is still my main desktop/laptop and Win (XP) runs in a VM if I really need it. I don't pretend I'm mainstream but I doubt I'm really niche.

    1. Tubz

      Re: Linux desktop for decades

      WinXP, M$ should have you burned at the stake, Heathen !

    2. Just Enough Silver badge

      Re: Linux desktop for decades

      In what way is this relevant?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Linux desktop for decades

        The subheading.

        1. trolleybus

          Dogs

          I've owned dogs for many years.

          1. seven of five Silver badge

            Re: Dogs

            Unlike cats, with whom it is the other way round.

  4. Tubz

    and for once, I don't disagree with Microsuck !

  5. Richard 12 Silver badge

    I honestly thought it never existed

    32bit Windows 10, I mean.

    32bit Windows 7 was rare enough, only ever on bottom of the barrel Atoms and I really thought those had been withdrawn a long time ago.

    I wonder who was buying it, and if they knew?

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: I honestly thought it never existed

      32bit Windows 10 does have a use - it'll still run Windows 3.x software.

      Ok, so that's a very rare requirement these days.

      A relative does use 32bit win-10 for this reason though. Larousse, noted French dictionariers, did a fantastic Windows 3 edition of their English / French dictionary way back in the 1990s. It had literally everything in it, it was massively comprehensive.

      Then up popped the Internet, and it went online. Trouble was, and still is, that the on-line edition (even the paid-for one) is massively lacking in content in comparison to that Windows 3.1 software. So this relative has been keeping a 32bit Windows PC running ever since, simply to keep that software working.

      Looks like I'm going to have to spin up a VM, running XP or 32bit Win 7, or something.

      <BTW, it's not me down voting - it really has been exceedingly rare to see 32bit windows for, what, 15 years?>

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: I honestly thought it never existed

        Another thing a 64-bit Windows does not do is running MS-DOS applications out of the box. You have to install an emulator, such as DOSBOX, or install VM software and run MS-DOS in it (not sure if it is possible with VMWare or VirtualBox these days)

        These limitations really boil down to the decisions AMD made when x86 was extended to 64 bits. The VM86 mode is not supported when running as a 64-bit CPU.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: I honestly thought it never existed

          Ha! Yes, I recently had to run some old DOS software (had to - well, really just for nostalgia), and needed to run up an XP VM for that purpose.

          VMWare Player still offers "MSDOS" as a guest type.

          I think AMD's decision was fairly sensible; 16 bit modes had to go, and if not then, when? And of course they chose wisely by keeping a 32bit mode too. I expect that'll go too in due course, and then another generation can mourn the passing of the technology of their youth.

          Another thing I forgot to mention in my last; I think MS has done a fantastic job of backward compatibility. To be running (quite happily) a piece of 1990s software on a modern, maintained version of Windows 25 years later is really quite an achievement.

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: I honestly thought it never existed

            Ha! Yes, I recently had to run some old DOS software (had to - well, really just for nostalgia), and needed to run up an XP VM for that purpose.

            If you needed to run DOS software, why not run a DOS VM? FreeDOS can be had for, well, free. And unlike ReactOS, it's *already* usable for many DOS tasks.

            1. MacroRodent Silver badge

              Re: I honestly thought it never existed

              DOSBOX is probably the easiest to set up for casual MS-DOS use. It includes an emulated DOS, so no need to install FreeDOS or any other additional package. (If you really want, it is possible to run a real MS-DOS or FreeDOS inside DOSBOX, but that is more complex and usually not needed).

              It is slower than a VM, but on modern machines, its emulation executes programs at least as fast as they ran on actual 80's PC:s. There is actually a setting for slowing things down, for some games.

          2. MacroRodent Silver badge

            Re: I honestly thought it never existed

            > I think AMD's decision was fairly sensible; 16 bit modes had to go, and if not then, when?

            AMD did not remove the 16-bit support entirely. At start-up even the 64-bit x86 CPU runs in "real" 16-bit mode. You could in principle boot it into MS-DOS, but I suspect the modern peripherals and motherboards could cause compatibility issues. Also, if you run a 32-bit OS on it, the VM86 mode is still available.

          3. JJKing Silver badge
            Megaphone

            Re: I honestly thought it never existed

            I agree. Microsoft has been very backward.

          4. Jakester

            Re: I honestly thought it never existed

            Bazza, While you may think MS has done a fantastic job of backward compatibility, they do a shitty job of making Microsoft products like Office 2013 and 2016 compatible with Microsoft Windows 10. I see all too often the Office 365 "demo" in Windows 10 totally borking the Office 2013 and 2016 (and previous) installations. I wish Microsoft would make Microsoft products Microsoft compatible.

        2. dajames Silver badge

          Re: I honestly thought it never existed

          These limitations really boil down to the decisions AMD made when x86 was extended to 64 bits. The VM86 mode is not supported when running as a 64-bit CPU.

          ... and yet, for a while, at least, one could run Win16 software under Wine on 64-bit Linux. I'm not sure why that was discontinued, but it was really useful for those few legacy applications that never made it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.

          1. MacroRodent Silver badge

            Re: I honestly thought it never existed

            > and yet, for a while, at least, one could run Win16 software under Wine on 64-bit Linux.

            Interesting. Perhaps it used instruction set emulation for the 16-bit code.

            For Linux, there is a fork of DOSEMU (an old VM86-based system for running MS-DOS) that handles 16-bit code on 64-bit Linux using the modern virtual machine features, instead of VM86. I have yet to try this project myself, but here it is: https://github.com/dosemu2/dosemu2 .

        3. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: I honestly thought it never existed

          VM Ware runs Windows 98 without any problems. I did it a few weeks ago.

          The main problem you will find is that the internet basically doesn’t work on it out of the box. I had to use ftp to get a firefox clone into the VM, The Windows Explorer ftp client didn’t work with the ftp server on freebsd, but the command line one did.

      2. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: I honestly thought it never existed

        I've been spinning up "frozen" Windows NT and XP VMs to run that sort of legacy software.

        (Start it, copy in the work, copy out the result, kill it and roll it back)

        To be honest, these days you can probably emulate Win 3.1 in a browser. I wonder if anyone has done that yet?

        1. Butler1233

          Re: I honestly thought it never existed

          > I wonder if anyone has done that yet

          Yes they have: https://copy.sh/v86/, and not just 3.1, but a whole host of options. You can even run Windows 98!

          You can try to run something harder but the virtualised hardware has quite a limited feature set (it is javascript after all) so many things wont go well.

      3. Mage Silver badge

        Re: I honestly thought it never existed

        No, 32 bit Win10 doesn't run Win3.x software, not really. I'm thinking by default the NTVDM and WOW that was on NT3.1 to XP is missing. The 32 bit Win10 does run 32 bit VB6 that won't work on 64 bits Win7 / 8 / 10.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge

          Re: I honestly thought it never existed

          "No, 32 bit Win10 doesn't run Win3.x software, not really."

          Civilization for Windows (3.1) works just fine under 32-bit Win10.

        2. Butler1233

          Re: I honestly thought it never existed

          Nope, the NTVDM is very much still there. You could probably count the people using it one one hand, but its still there because its Microsoft and if it doesnt need to be removed, its not getting removed.

          See: every other feature which still exists

      4. Martipar

        Re: I honestly thought it never existed

        I run Win 3.11 on this PC under DosBox (well technically that's a lie as i need to reinstall DosBox but it will) couldn't you, if they ever upgraded to 64-bit, install DosBox and in it's equivalent of Autoexec hava a line to boot windows and in the Autoexec.bat open the dictionary so they only have to click the DosBox icon (or a custom icon taken from the dictionary directory) and they get the dictionary loaded?

        It's a bit of a janky solution but it'll get the job done and you get the nostalgia hit of installing Windows 3.11.

      5. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: I honestly thought it never existed

        A Windows 3.1 or 95 virtual machine would use less system resources than a web browser. 32MB RAM was an insanely huge amount of RAM back then. You assign one CPU thread as it won’t know what to do with any more than that.

      6. Jakester

        Re: I honestly thought it never existed

        And Win 10 32bit still runs my DOS based Clarion Personal Developer databases I still use to manage my software library and computer configurations. It has performed flawlessly for almost 3 decades now on all versions of DOS and 32 bit Windows. I haven't tried porting it to a Linux distribution using WINE yet, but if Microsoft ever drops 32 bit Windows, I will either use an obsolete version of WIndows in a virtual VM or try using in Linux with WINE, or other application.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: I honestly thought it never existed

      I just found out recently too! 32bit in this day? Ghast~Flabbered!

    3. druck Silver badge

      Re: I honestly thought it never existed

      Most of the Atoms were capable of running a 64 bit OS, but Microsoft restricted them to 32 bit Windows 7 starter. If you tried installing Windows 10 on them, they would default to 32 bit, but it was possible to do a fresh install of 64 bit Windows 10, it was hopelessly slow with only 2GB of RAM though.

      My old N455 netbook has both 32 bit and 64 bit Linux Mint on it. The 64 bit variant is noticeably faster until you open a few tabs in the browser and it runs out of memory, the 32 bit one struggles on a little longer due to a few 100MB less memory usage.

  6. macjules Silver badge
    Happy

    Windows 10, version 2004

    Nah, I'll just stick with Windows XP SP3 if we are throwing back to 2004 thanks.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Buyers reliant on 32-bit apps don't need to worry, as their code will work just fine on 64-bit Windows"

    I'm aware of one in house system written in C/C++ that makes assumptions about the size of a pointer. We tried to make it work on 64 bit systems, but the code is so convoluted that a complete rewrite would be required. I'm sure this isn't the only system that would break in this way...

    1. Steve Todd

      Win32 subsystem

      You do know that 64 bit windows can run 32 bit code un modified? It’s even slightly faster running apps that don’t need 64 bit pointers and more than 3.5GB of memory in 32 bit mode.

    2. Paul Herber Silver badge

      C++ convoluted? You don't say!

      (Not a C++ fan)

      1. Def Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        In my experience, C++ code is, generally speaking, only as convoluted as the person who wrote it.

        There's a lot of shit in the Standard Library that shouldn't be there, and a lot of shit missing that should. But if you can navigate that minefield successfully (and steer clear of some of the more obnoxious newer parts of the language), it's still perfectly possible to write decent code.

        (A C++ fan.)

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        (Not a C++ fan)

        Apparently, neither is the guy who wrote the C/C++ code with explicit assumptions on the size of a pointer.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge

      WoW64 exists so you don't need to

      Run your 32bit Windows NT or XP binary on 64bit Windows 7 or 10 and it runs perfectly.

      It doesn't even know it's on Windows 10, as Microsoft fake almost everything. Including redirecting unauthorised writes to protected folders and files onto a per-user location.

      In fact a huge amount of commercial Windows software is still 32bit - including some from Microsoft.

      1. Butler1233

        Re: WoW64 exists so you don't need to

        Including some from Microsoft

        They only started giving out 64 bit office by default last year. Until then they *recommended* 32 bit, despite Excel crashing every time you showed it a spreadsheet more than a couple of MBs.

        WHY IS OFFICE STILL SINGLE PROCESS

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: WoW64 exists so you don't need to

          "WHY IS OFFICE STILL SINGLE PROCESS"

          Is it? I just fired up two instances of Excel 2003. Two PIDs showed up in Task Manager. As far as I can tell, the office apps have been multi-instance since sometime in the last century.

    4. Mage Silver badge

      "Buyers reliant on 32-bit apps don't need to worry"

      Many VB6 activeX controls don't work at all on 64 bit Windows. They do on 32bits. Some VB6 programs are still maintained and distributed. Curiously the SAME non-working VB6 does work under Wine32 on 64 bit Linux even one using the RS232, but the WINE COMx mapped to a Linux USB port with a serial adaptor, though you may discover your Wine is 64 bit only and have to uninstall it, set an environment variable and re-install WINE. IMO the only point of WINE is to run some old Windows program that has no new 64 bit version. Or else you are into the VM overhead.

      1. foxyshadis

        Re: "Buyers reliant on 32-bit apps don't need to worry"

        Those are 16-bit ActiveX controls then, lots of VB6 apps were 16-bit or mixed 16/32-bit, as insane as that might sound. Then again, VB6 is from 1998, after all, and many businesses still ran Win 3.1 then.

        The silliest thing Microsoft did from Win8 on was to get rid of XP Mode, it made a lot of Win7 transition headaches much easier.

  8. Julz Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Linux

    On the desktop is always coming this year. Linux was at war with Microsoft: therefore Linux has always been at war with Microsoft.

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Linux

      The year of Linux on the desktop is the year you put it on your desktop. For me that year was 1998, in short, every year is the year of Linux on the desktop.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Linux

      Microsoft has never been at war with Linux, we have always been at war with IBM

      Please report to room 101 for reprogramming

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    16 bit installers?

    I still occasionally come across crappy old 32 bit business apps that have 16 bit installers that clients insist are vital to their business. There is no 16 subsystem on 64 bit windows, so you have to really mess about to get them to install. Usually involves recording the installation steps into a script on a 32 bit machine using sysinternals tools, then replaying the steps on the 64 bit machine.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: 16 bit installers?

      I still occasionally come across crappy old 32 bit business apps that have 16 bit installers that clients insist are vital to their business.

      Although sometimes you can find an actual 32-bit installer in there. The 16-bit installer is sometimes (often?) an installer loader, meant to blast you with advertisements for their other products and services while the real installer does it's work in the background.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: 16 bit installers?

        For business software yeah this is an issue, as for gamers with their big box copies its much better. People want to replay old games and can easily find someone has done the hard work for them and have either rewritten installers or have developed solutions such as ScummVM/DosBox.

  10. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    First time I've heard of a 32-bit Win10....

    ...for obvious reasons I'd rather go with 64-bit everything to make better use of memory of 8Gb and higher....

  11. Mage Silver badge
    Coat

    When is 64bits 32 bits?

    a) Tablets with 64 bit Atoms but 32 bit EFI. These had 32bit Win 10, but could have had 64 bit? The 64 bit version of Debian but not the Mint I tried can deploy 32 bit boot code and a 64 bit OS.

    b) Lots of 64 bit Atoms could do with one more address pin at least. Insane HW limitation to 2 G byte addressing! I've had several 64bit Atom based Netbooks (Windows wiped & Linux mint install) and given them to grateful kids. The 64 Bit Windows, unlike 32bit vs 64 bit Linux, does seem to need more RAM than 2G to be useful. There seems to be no penalty installing 64 bit Linux rather than 32 bit on a low spec Intel, there does seem to be with Windows.

    c) Even some 32 bit CPUs with NT4.0 enterprise could use PAE to access more than 4G, most could do 4G RAM if the motherboard allowed. But with XP MS decided to remove PAE support and even by default reduce program access to less than 2 G RAM. Linux seems to still support PAE, though some distros and applications are no longer supporting 32 bit. Waterfox was only ever 64 bit.

    d) The connection between addressable memory and supposed CPU "bits"/word size is actually not inherent but a per CPU, memory controller and system decision. Obviously paging can be nasty (the 8088 / 8086 unlike the 286 was really a jumped up 8 bit 8085 with 64K paging and actual 8 bit Z80 went on to be a core in chips with up to 2 M byte external addressing.

    So if the existing system is really only 32 bit there is staying with old Win7 or Win10 (or even XP) and not connecting to the Internet, or in the short term Linux (but like Windows, some applications have no 32 bit version). Or if too limited EFI, CPU or RAM, using 64 bit Linux.

    Apple ditched 32 bit a while ago? But the x86-64 is their fourth Mac platform (68K, PowerPC, x86-32) and they might go ARM.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: When is 64bits 32 bits?

      b) Lots of 64 bit Atoms could do with one more address pin at least. Insane HW limitation to 2 G byte addressing!

      Done for financial rather than technical reasons.

      Make a machine that's limited to 2GB and sell it with Windows 7 Starter (also limited to 2GB). You can sell it cheap, because you know that nobody is going to be able to upgrade it to a sensible amount of RAM and run a real OS on it -- it serves a very price-sensitive market and can't hurt your profits for grown-up machines.

  12. jezza99

    Wow are Windows users still suffering this 32 or 64 bit rubbish?

    Apple resolved that years ago.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      They did, until Catalina came along.

    2. Hi Wreck

      Bug Compatibility.

      Backward (bug) compatibly for legacy software. Jobs didn’t care, so there were bowls of protest when a new version of Mac OS caused (cough) photoshop to no longer work.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        @Hi Wreck -- Re: Bug Compatibility.

        Jobs didn’t care, so there were bowls of protest [...]

        Did you perhaps mean 'howls' or protest, or 'bowels' or protest?

        I suppose either would be appropriate....

    3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Trollface

      I believe you forgot the troll icon?

  13. Swordfish1

    Still working fine.

    One of computers, is a 10 year old Lenovo running 32bit version of 1909.

    It slow to start, but works fine after around 5 minutes

  14. Richard Crossley

    Catalina

    Wasn't it Catalina that ditched 32bit applications on macOS?

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Catalina

      Yes; totally ditched them.

      I ported a free app just to keep a handful of Mac customers happy some time ago, even though it was a PITA and there was no ROI. It worked fine and still would were it not for Catalina.

      I am now thoroughly enjoying countering their insistence that I "have to make the app work with Catalina" by pointing out it's Apple's decision which has shafted them, it's Apple who needs to fix Catalina to allow the app to work.

      1. Richard Crossley

        Re: Catalina

        I feel your pain.

  15. mickm

    That's a shame

    Just for fun I pulled an old 2007? company supplied HP Compaq NC6400 (32bit T2500) out of the garage and after finding that all the shiny Linux distros are going 64bit stuck a copy of 32 bit Win 10 on it, which is actually usable for day to day tasks.

    It runs better with Linux Mint, who are on their last 32bit distro with suppport to 2023 I believe so I'll probably put that back on.

    It's a shame because it was like new seldom used and I just put in 4Gb and a 120Gb SSD for £40, damn!

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: That's a shame

      Debian (which both Mint and Ubuntu are based upon) is still supporting 32 bit CPUs so that might be your best bet for a well known distro after Mint stop supporting 32bit in 2023. Also Slackware are another well know distro that has ongoing 32 bit support

      But if you don't like those options there are a several other less well know distros also still supporting 32bit if you search around.

  16. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Meh

    Year

    Sadly 2020 will not be the year of Linux on the desktop

    Never understood why computers hacks, and tired and emotional commentators, triumphantly never fail to drag out this old trope, possibly 150 days out of the year, when linux users really don't care.

    .

    If 90% of consumers scoffed on a mixture of lard and sugar mixed with dead flies, and you ate a sensible diet, then it doesn't affect you so long as your food is still supplied.

    1. Alsibbo

      Re: Year

      I'll never look at an Eccles cake the same again after that comment. Thanks

  17. Blackjack

    False

    "Buyers reliant on 32-bit apps don't need to worry, as their code will work just fine on 64-bit Windows and silicon."

    While a lot if 32 bit apps work on 64 bit Windows, not all of them do. More so with games that have bot been updated on a while.

  18. lsces

    But 64 bit windows trashes physical interfaces to the processor.

    Legacy systems that still rely on access to ports such as a real parallel port do not work on 64 bit windows and many 32 bit applications will NOT reliably work on 64 bit installs! Yes you can completely replace all of the hardware and re-write 20+ year old applications to work, but many applications HAVE been proven to be reliable and starting again from scratch will also start the clock on re-testing every aspect of a system that IS currently working perfectly stably. The volume of systems does not justify the cost of a complete rebuild and many systems have diverged over years exacerbating the problem of rewriting each version. Maintaining systems which may well involve moving to a new computer is a valid way of saving money although simply switching off any access to 'windows updates' and ensuring older builds of windows are maintained is the only safe way to maintain these systems anyway. Security is not relevant since in the vast majority of cases they are not networked anyway.

    Current planning is to move these legacy systems over to hardware that is not reliant on Windows at all and any removal of 32bit builds completely will simply reinforce that path forward. 64bit Windows does not allow the level of real time operation that these systems rely on ...

    Even on older processors many of these machines manage 99.9% idle time so 'faster versions' do little except increase the idle time further, but one needs the instant response when something does happen, not having to wait for some cloud process to wake up seconds later.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: But 64 bit windows trashes physical interfaces to the processor.

      Legacy systems that still rely on access to ports such as a real parallel port do not work on 64 bit windows [...]

      I dunno...I have a basically ancient HP1200C printer that only has a parallel port interface. I got it to work by using a USB-to-Centronix adapter cable on a machine that didn't have a parallel port on it.. Course, that was on (64-bit) Linux Mint, but what do I know...?

  19. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Linux

    When will it be the year

    of Linux on the desktop?

    Thats the easiest question in computing to answer

    The year when m$ make a version of Office for linux

    Do you really think companies bulk buy win 10 licences because of the charming desktop, and wonderfully designed icons? nope, they buy it because it runs office.... thats it.

    And if office is available on Linux, you can be sure of a mass migration to it in mere seconds...... after all Linux runs most of the rest of the IT world (apart from a few apple weirdos )

    1. aks Bronze badge

      Re: When will it be the year

      With LibreOffice available on Linux, why would you want to pay to put Microsoft Office on it?

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: When will it be the year

        Wrong question, really. The issue is that you have end-users who don't want to "learn" LO, so you keep buying office because that is cheaper than the battle with the end-users, so you keep buying Windows because that is the only option.

        Yes, we can all see how to break out of this tail-spin, but we aren't usually the ones making the purchasing decisions.

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: When will it be the year

      "The year when m$ make a version of Office for linux".

      Or when MS adopts linux for the kernel on Windows, as they could, rewriting Windows.

      It's rather complicated, companies especially those with a modest IT department want a company to rely on.

      With linux, who would that company be, IBM or Google or Ubuntu or who, and where is the money, and would companies pay for linux like they pay for Windows today.

      Linux is so dominant today that indeed the desktop is the last wall standing, and so what.

      Organisations, companies and individuals will have to take their own decisions, there is no big guy cashing in on linux on the desktop, and perhaps it's as good.

      The linux on the desktop was after all something invented by some reporter a long time ago.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When will it be the year

      Why bulk buy windows 10 licences when windows 7 upgraded to windows 10 for free still works fine???

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: When will it be the year

        Because you can't buy Win7 licences anymore and the Win7 licences you have got are all those silly OEM ones that are tied to 10-year-old hardware.

  20. amacater

    When 64 bit is 32 bit on tablets etc

    It's been a few years: I think the last one of these I saw was one of the tablet+keyboard laptops. 64 bit capable Atom 32 bit UEFI boot. Steve Macintyre of Debian made the Debian multi-arch boot media work with it. It still does :)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020