Overview of 64-bit Processing
With the release of Microsoft Windows 7, the business case for upgrading to 64-bit processing has never been stronger. However, many network managers are understandably reluctant to take on a major upgrade project when the primary benefits — increased stability, capacity, and performance — are too intangible to quantify precisely. As a Microsoft Partner with years of experience helping businesses carry out network-wide upgrades, Progent can help you understand the costs and benefits of moving to 64-bit processing, design an efficient migration strategy that minimizes operational disruptions, and provide affordable, expert remote support to assist you in upgrading your existing computers.
For most business networks, 64-bit processing is a great untapped resource. Intel and AMD, the leading CPU chip makers, have been delivering 64-bit capability in their mainstream CPUs for years, so that all classes of business computers including laptops, desktop PCs, engineering workstations and high-level servers already have ability to run in 64-bit mode. Yet most of these computers continue to run 32-bit operating systems and applications.
The primary reason for this widespread reluctance to join the 64-bit revolution is that the business benefit for upgrading existing systems has appeared to be small in comparison to the effort required. There is no seamless path to upgrade from a 32-bit to a 64-bit operating system. The upgrade requires a clean installation, which means reinstalling existing applications, backing up and restoring data, and installing new drivers. This requires careful planning to do efficiently. Meanwhile, most office productivity applications are still available only in 32-bit versions, so what's the point?
Benefits of Upgrading to 64-bit Computing
The advantages of 64-bit vs. 32-bit computing may seem subtle and difficult to quantify, but they are real. The RAM memory partitioning schemes used in 32-bit operating systems are essentially a technical band-aid that limits system stability. RAM-starved applications are often unable to utilize existing memory because the O/S is unable to allocate it efficiently. This results in programs shutting down or running fitfully even though a computer appears to have plenty of available RAM. In addition, 64-bit software platforms allow far more physical RAM than 32-bit systems and crunch more data per clock cycle. You can also switch from one memory-intensive program to another more quickly when you are in a 64-bit environment. Basically, 64-bit processing makes computers more reliable, scalable, and faster, which in turn makes businesses more productive.
Microsoft's Support for 64-bit Processing
Microsoft's 'x64' technology supports the 64-bit processors found in virtually all computers currently used in business networks. (Microsoft's 64-bit "Itanium" technology is limited to special high-end CPUs and is designed for massive multi-processor environments.) Before the release of Office 2010, most Microsoft client applications, such as 2007 Office and Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, were only supported in 32-bit mode on x64 Windows. Now, programs such as Office Excel 2010 are available in a 64-bit version. In the case of Excel 2010, users gain a significant benefit moving to the 64-bit edition because they can build spreadsheets that are not limited to the 2-gigabyte file size restriction that hampered previous releases of Excel.
Microsoft offers native x64 versions of many Microsoft Server System products, including Windows Server 2008 and 2012 R2, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2012, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Exchange Server 2013, as well as System Center Operations Manager. Windows Server x64 editions are priced and licensed identically to their 32-bit counterparts, so in most circumstances you pay nothing extra for 64-bit server hardware and software.
For desktop operating systems, Microsoft offers Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 in same-cost 64-bit editions that offer high levels of dependability, capacity, and performance. Like all migrations from 32- to 64-bit platforms, the upgrade can't be done seamlessly. Every workstation and server requires a clean setup that involves reconfiguring applications, backing up and recovering data, and installing 64-bit device drivers. In fact, for most desktop PCs even the 32-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8 will require you to perform a clean install. This being the case, there has never been a better time to move to 64-bit computing on the desktop, since it will require little additional effort.
How Progent Can Help You Migrate to x64 Computing
In addition to helping you understand the business advantages, costs, and technical risks associated with upgrading to 64-bit computing, Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help you design, document, implement, manage, and troubleshoot a network-wide migration to 64-bit server, client, and application software. Progent can help you pilot your 64-bit infrastructure to make sure it supports all of the key 32-bit applications which you intend to retain as well as the new 64-bit versions of applications you wish to upgrade. If adopting Windows 10 or Windows 11 is part of your 64-bit migration plan, Progent's Windows 11 migration consultants and Windows 10 integration experts can help you determine which desktop hardware and applications can or should be preserved, and plan an upgrade process that is minimally disruptive to your business operations.
Other ways Progent can help you upgrade to x64 computing include: