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For a while, there was a rumor going around that Windows 7 was going to be the first version of Windows that was only released in a 64-bit version. According to all of my sources though, Microsoft will also offer a 32-bit version of their new operating system. The question is why?
I don’t have any direct information from Microsoft regarding why they have decided to create a 32-bit version of Windows 7, but I think that the answer is easy enough to figure out by looking at the current state of Windows Vista.
Over the holiday season, retailers were flooding everyone’s mailboxes with sale ads. While glancing through some of the ads from electronics stores, I noticed that almost every consumer grade computer being sold today comes with a 64-bit version of Windows Vista. In a way, this adds to the mystery, because 64-bit operating systems are clearly replacing 32-bit operating systems.
At the same time though, I have been thinking about replacing the computer that I am writing this blog post on. My initial thought was to install a 64-bit version of Vista on the replacement machine, but there is one thing holding me back; application compatibility. I have two mission critical applications that will only run on a 32-bit operating system.
I tend to think that Microsoft’s decision to produce a 32-bit version of Windows 7 was probably a marketing decision. Application compatibility is the one issue that has plagued Vista from day one. Microsoft is trying hard to convince its customers that if an application runs on Vista, that they will not have any trouble with it in Windows 7. Well, I’ve got two applications that run just fine in a 32-bit Windows Vista environment, but I’d bet you a wooden nickel that they won’t run in a 64-bit Windows 7 environment (at least not without some tweaking). Therefore, the only way that Microsoft can possibly live up to their marketing hype is to go ahead and offer both versions.