Thursday, June 02, 2005

Some helpful links and a quick Q&A

The main x64 newsgroup that Microsoft runs is :
microsoft.public.windows.64bit.general

You can see the public Microsoft x64 sites here:
Windows XP x64: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/64bit/default.mspx
Windows 2003 x64: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/64bit/x64/default.mspx

Trial software can be downloaded from either of those links, Windows XP x64
is a 120 day trial, and Windows 2003 x64 is a 180 day trial, and both come
without support of any kind. You can always find good information in the
newsgroups for common issues with either of these trial versions.

Speaking of which, let's go over some of the common questions we see on the newsgroups.

Q. Can x64 editions run 32bit software.
A. Yes, and no. x64 supports most 32bit applications as long as they dont require a 32bit kernel mode driver. Applications that typically have such drivers are antivirus, firewalls and some CD burning applications. Also, there are some 32bit applications that have 16bit installers that we dont upgrade on the fly, those applications will need to be referred to the manufacturer for a new installer package.

Q. Is x64 twice as fast as 32bit Windows?
A. No. You might see some speed gains in certain applications but in general we run 32bit applications at full speed (comparable to a 32bit OS).

Q. What do I need on a hardware level to run x64?
A. You must have a supported CPU from AMD or Intel. Right now, those CPUs are AMD Athlon64 and Opteron64's and the Intel EM64T line of Xeons and Pentium4's.

Q. Where can I buy x64? Why havent I seen it at my local retailer?
A. x64 is OEM, MSDN, and Software Assurance only. This means that you can most likely go to your local computer store and purchase a mouse and x64, or you can always get it from the larger OEM's preinstalled (such as Dell or Compaq/HP). You can not buy it off of a shelf.

Q. What are the major issues currently being seen in x64 editions?
A. Right now the major issues revolve around application compatibility (see above) and drivers. Drivers must be 64bit to work properly in x64. If you cannot find a 64bit driver for your device, and it isnt included in Windows, then you will need to speak to your vendor. Microsoft does not write drivers for devices, the hardware vendors do. Also, x64 editions enforce drive decoration, which means that you might have a 64bit driver but it will appear to fail to install properly. This can be due to INF decoration, I wrote a public KB article on this which can be found here: http://support.microsoft.com/?id=888728

Q. Where can I find Intellimouse software for my Microsoft mouse or keyboard?
A. Currently, there isnt any. There should be an x64 version of it in the near future.

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