With the majority of office IT systems, 64-bit computing is a giant untapped power source. Intel and AMD, the top CPU manufacturers, have been delivering 64-bit capability in their mainstream processors for years, with the result that all types of business computers including notebooks, desktop computers, high-powered workstations and back-office servers already possess the ability to operate in 64-bit mode. Yet the majority of these devices continue to run 32-bit operating systems.
The main reason for this widespread reluctance to join the 64-bit millennium is that the business advantage for updating existing systems has appeared to be small in comparison to the effort required. There is no seamless process to migrate from a 32 to a 64-bit OS. The upgrade requires a clean install, which means reinstalling existing applications, saving and restoring data files, and installing new drivers. This demands thoughtful planning to carry out efficiently. Meanwhile, most desktop productivity software are still offered only in 32-bit versions, so where's the benefit?
Benefits of Upgrading to 64-bit Processing
The advantages of 64-bit vs. 32-bit computing may seem subtle and hard to define precisely, yet they are significant. The RAM partitioning schemes utilized by 32-bit operating systems are essentially an engineering afterthought that undermines system stability. RAM-starved applications are often not able to utilize existing memory because the operating system is unable to assign it efficiently. This results in software freezing or executing fitfully even though a machine appears to have ample unused memory. In addition, 64-bit software platforms allow far more physical memory than 32-bit systems and crunch more information per CPU cycle. You can also go from one memory-intensive program to another faster when running in a 64-bit system. Fundamentally, 64-bit computing makes systems more reliable, more expandable, and faster, which makes businesses more productive.
Microsoft's 64-bit Processing Initiative
Microsoft's “x64” software works with the 64-bit processors found in most servers and desktop PCs now deployed in business IT systems. (Microsoft's "Itanium" technology is limited to special advanced processors and is designed for applications that need large-scale multi-processing.) Prior to the release of Office 2010, the majority of Microsoft desktop programs including Microsoft Office 2007 and Visual Studio 2005 were available only in 32-bit editions, which can still be run on x64 Windows. The latest family of Office delivers dramatic enhancements. For example, Excel 2010 is available in a 64-bit version that allows you to build spreadsheets with huge databases that are not restricted by the 2-gigabyte file size imposed by previous editions of Office Excel.
Microsoft offers native x64 versions of key Microsoft Server platforms, such as Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and 2003, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, Commerce Server, BizTalk Server, plus Operations Manager. Windows Server x64 editions are priced and licensed identically to 32-bit counterparts, so in most circumstances you pay nothing extra for 64-bit server operating systems or hardware.
For workstations, Microsoft offers Windows 7 and Windows 8 in same-price x64 versions that provide high stability, capacity, and performance. As with all upgrades from 32-bit to 64-bit operating systems, the move up can't be done seamlessly. Each workstation and server requires a clean installation that involves reconfiguring applications, backing up and restoring data, and configuring 64-bit drivers. In fact, for most current workstations, and for every PC running Windows XP, the 32 or 64-bit release of Microsoft Windows 7 or Windows 8 will require you to perform a clean install. This being the case, there has never been a better time to migrate to x64 processing on the workstation, since it will require scarcely any extra effort.
How Progent Can Assist You to Migrate to 64-bit Processing
In addition to helping you to understand the business benefits, expenses, and technical variables associated with upgrading to 64-bit computing, Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help you plan, document, implement, manage, and troubleshoot a system-wide move to 64-bit server and client OS software and business applications. Progent can help you pilot your 64-bit environment to make sure it handles all of the important 32-bit programs which you intend to retain plus the new 64-bit versions of applications you plan to install. If moving to Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 is included in your x64 migration plan, Progent's Windows 7 experts, Windows 8.1 migration consultants, and Windows 10 testing and migration consultants can assist you to determine which workstation hardware and applications can or ought to be preserved, and design a migration process that is the least disruptive to your network operations.
Other ways Progent's consultants can assist your business to migrate to 64-bit processing include: