Internet Explorer has had a 64-bit version since the Internet Explorer 6 that came installed with the 64-bit version of Windows XP. It hasn’t exactly caught on yet. Very few people even realize it exists since the default– even in 64-bit editions of Windows 7– is to open the 32-bit version of Internet Explorer.
Of those who realize it exists, even fewer use it on a regular basis. Why? Because the Web and all of its components is still dominated by 32-bit controls, plugins, and applications.
The 64-bit Internet Explorer needs 64-bit tools. Unfortunately, not many exist and there seems to be little drive or incentive for developers to create them. Mostly I blame Adobe though. Most users can live without the Google toolbar, but Adobe has managed to incorporate Flash into virtually every corner of the Web. Without Flash the Web loses a significant amount of functionality– or at least quality of experience.
In October of 2008 Adobe posted this a message stating:
“Adobe is working on Flash Player support for 64-bit platforms as part of our ongoing commitment to the cross-platform compatibility of Flash Player. We expect to provide native support for 64-bit platforms in an upcoming release of Flash Player following Flash Player 10.”
A year has gone by and we have progressed all the way to this message:
“The 64-bit versions of Flash Player will not be in the initial release of Flash Player 10.1. We remain committed to bringing native 64-bit Flash Player to Windows and Mac in future, in addition to the currently available 64-bit alpha version of Flash Player 10 for Linux.”
Whoa! Slow down there Adobe! Let’s not get all crazy with the pace of that 64-bit development. Granted, Microsoft would just as soon have everyone dump Flash in favor of Silverlight, and there are developers who agree that Silverlight is a much richer and powerful platform. Sadly though, the Silverlight revolution has caught fire yet and Flash is still ubuiquitous on the Web.
No 64-bit Flash = no point in surfing the Web with 64-bit Internet Explorer. Perhaps the fact that Microsoft is embracing 64-bit systems more fully with the release of Windows 7 will speed things up a tad? Microsoft has made it a requirement for certification under the Windows 7 compatibility logo program that tools work in 32-bit and 64-bit modes.
Adobe should be a little more enthusiastic about making the move anyway. 64-bit software is supposed to offer better security and that is apparently something Adobe could use more of.