Switching to 64-bit Vista

If you have a retail, packaged version of Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, or Business, it almost certainly came with the 32-bit flavor of Vista on DVD. (Vista Ultimate comes with 32- and 64-bit media in the box.)

Want to switch to x64? You’ll need new installation media, which you can order from the form at the bottom of this page.

Oh, and you’ll have to do a clean install. You can’t upgrade from 32-bit Windows to 64-bit.

So, who’s running Vista x64? How is your experience? And if you’re thinking about making the switch but haven’t, why not? If you have any questions about 64-bit Vista, post them in the comments and I’ll try to answer here.

26 thoughts on “Switching to 64-bit Vista

  1. I ran it for a little while, but there was a USB driver for my weather station that was not available in 64 bit. It is now available, but I haven’t had the time to try and set up a dual boot to make sure it works ok. If it does, I’ll switch.

    I have 4 gig, how much memory can the 64 bit version address? Could I go to 8?

  2. Fred, Vista Home Basic x64 supports 8GB, Home Premium x64 supports 16GB, and all other editions support up to 128GB. As long as your hardware can physically accommodate that much RAM, you’re good to go.

  3. Ed, do you know if an license of 64-bit Vista this way invalidates your 32-bit license? I couldn’t tell from the linked pages. The XP32-to-XP64 free upgrade was a burn-your-bridges affair.

  4. I’ve done the switch a month ago, after 9 months of Vista x32.
    So far so good, actually so far… even better πŸ˜‰

  5. Dave, the license terms say you can have either version installed, but only one at a time. The specific section is 2c:

    Alternative Versions. The software may include more than one version, such as 32-bit and 64-bit. You may use only one version at one time.

  6. i gave up on 64 bit for lack of various drivers — printers, raw image viewers. getting printing working to a 32bit xp server was just too complicated for me as well, i didn’t have time to futz around with the server and figure out how to get the 64bit driver loaded on it to serve up to the vista64 machine.

  7. Ed: I ran Vista Ultimate x64 for about two months total on two separate machines but I have since returned both computers to HP.

    The first machine was a TX1000 Turion X2 64-bit TL-66 w/ 2GB RAM and Vista Ultimate 64-bit. Within three days, I had BSOD’s and “this program has stopped responding” error messages. The only software I had installed was Office ’07 Ultimate and Windows Live One Care. I sent that machine back after two weeks and it was replaced with a Santa Rosa-based DV6500t 15″ Pavilion Notebook.

    The DV6500t was running an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz T7700 w/ 2GB RAM (250GB HDD) and dedicated Nvidia 128MB 8400 GS Card.

    On the original factory install, it ran fine. I installed Office Ultimate ’07 and Windows Live One Care, all seemed fine. Windows Live One Care had LOTS of issues w/ the x64 version that included entry-upon-entry of errors in the Problem Reports and Solutions manifest. I uninstalled it and went with AVGfree and had no issues.

    Two weeks later, Vista would BSOD any time the machine went to sleep. HP recommended re-installing Vista x64….tried to do it, but defective recovery media was included. HP graciously sent me new recovery discs, but BSOD’s continued.

    I am now running XP Pro via VMware/Bootcamp on a white Macbook. You could say that I “had it” with Vista.

    The only application I had issues with was iTunes (they have since updated it to support Vista x64).

    When Vista Ultimate x64 ran….it would run fine and was fairly quick. Otherwise, performance was abysmal and it would BSOD for little-to-no reason on two independent machines.

    My backup machine is my trusty old HP DV1000 running XP Home and it has run fine for the last two years. My g/f has a Vaio that she has run XP on for the last two years (bought at same time as my DV1000) and upgraded it to Vista Home Basic. BSOD’s started two days later so she “downgraded” back to XP Pro and has not had an issue. Last year she bought a Macbook and last month Bootcamp’d it w/ Vista and so far she has not said anything great about it….it will predictably BSOD if she sleeps it too often (2-3 times a day). She has the 32-bit version, I had the 64-bit version.

    Personally, I think that the x64-bit version is worthless unless you’re looking at using more than 4GB of RAM. Then again, don’t take my word for it….I gave up on Windows three weeks ago.

  8. I have been running Vista x64 since November on my custom built Quad core system. I run the 32 bit version on my Dual core laptop due to lack of driver support by Dell.

    The 64 bit version installed without the slightest hitch. I have had no problems with application compatibility due to the extremely good 32 bit emulation built in and am still quite taken aback by the sheer speed of it.

    To be honest I’m quite bored of reading the countless number of posts and articles complaining about issues which are no doubt caused by bad drivers from lazy manafacturers (or badly written old applications). I think people believe it’s cool to slate Vista and say how great Macs are. Actually Vista is perfectly fine.

    Both my systems are of a good specification but there is no doubt that the 64 bit version is both faster and more reliable, especially after a year of release and hotfixes etc. With SP1 installed it is even quicker. 64 bit is the future and the only thing holding it up is software makers. Once they embrace 64bit we are more likely to see 64 bit OSs being more mainstream.

    Personally I love 64 bit Vista and would run it on everything if the manafacturers would release suitable drivers.

  9. I’ve been running Vista x64 on my workstation at the repair shop I manage ( 2.0GHz Sempron 3500+ with 1.5GB ram, 7600GS) and at home on my primary computer (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo @ 2.9GHz, 4GB ram, 7900GS, 36GB Raptor system drive). I switched on these computers after using Vista x86 on both of them since public availibility of Vista.

    I noticed very little difference at all. If I hadn’t done the installing myself, I doubt I would have known that the systems were 64-bit kernels.

    Whether that’s an indictment of 64 computing (from a performance standpoint) or not, I couldn’t say. All I know is that World of Warcraft runs great, my apps run great.

    The only trouble I’ve had is that I use a program called Core Temp to monitor temps on my processors for overclocking purposes, and it won’t work in the x64 environment because of the signed driver requirement. I don’t blame MS for that; they should have enforced this crap years ago, IMO. However, I can see how the signing requirement can be onerous for some smalltime software writers. While I can’t recall off the top of my head an open source program that used a kernel driver to run, I’m sure there’s stuff out there that might. It would be nice if Microsoft decided to “host” certificates or something for software writers at low or no cost, depending on whether the program was monetized or not. Perhaps make it part of .Net or somesuch.

    Anyway, I’m just rambling now. x64 is great, and my issues have been minimal.

  10. @Fred …

    Even if your hardware supports in excess of 4GB of RAM, you need to be careful to pick RAM that is compatible with your system. Most motherboard vendors have a QVL list (qualified vendor list) and I suggest you check that and buy RAM appropriately.

  11. I’m running Vista Business x64 on my Dell Latitude D820 purchased in October 2006. Generally OK but the lack of a driver for the touchpad/pointing stick is irritating, because it means I can’t turn off the click action which otherwise happens all the time when I’m typing. Under XP I used to select the option to disable both touchpad and stick when I have an external mouse plugged in, which is also missing.

    I have quite a collection of older, DOS and Windows 95, games some of which work and some don’t. Some of them wouldn’t install as they used an old 16-bit InstallShield stub that wasn’t detected by Windows (I know that some versions are detected). Some of the DOS games work well under DosBox (dosbox.sourceforge.net) but anything requiring Windows 3.x is broken, of course.

    I still have a Sony MiniDisc player, one of the Hi-MD models (MZ-NH900). It’s not supported at all on x64, Windows XP or Vista. On Vista 32-bit only SonicStage is supported, something I abandoned due to its abysmal quality issues and excessive user rights requirements. I used to use MD Simple Burner to rip CDs to MD, but that’s no longer supported. So I’m using MD Simple Burner on XP in a VMware Workstation 6 VM to rip CDs. Microsoft’s Virtual PC is insufficient because it does not virtualize USB devices.

    I think Microsoft need to bite the bullet on two issues:

    Virtualization for 16-bit code to replace the support inexplicably removed from the processor;
    Somehow allowing 32-bit drivers to be used.

    Without these two features, x64 could well be dead in the water for non-technical users.

  12. Also, migration from XP was a bit tricky as the Windows Easy Transfer program on the x64 DVD is built for x64 processors only and won’t run on 32-bit XP! Thankfully I had the 32-bit Vista DVD to hand as well.

    I hadn’t clean-installed XP on this laptop and wanted to ensure I’d wiped out all of Dell’s shovelware so opted for a clean Vista install, but that meant I couldn’t retain my existing file system, hence using Easy Transfer.

  13. There are a number of things that don’t work well on 64-bit, including various “tweak” applications that modify default windows behavior, as well as most of the ISO mounting utilities (because of the signed driver problem).

    Overall, though, 64-bit works perfectly fine and is much faster for power users…. the only issues anybody ever has are related to terrible drivers from lazy manufacturers. If you are getting a BSOD, it’s a bad driver.

    Also, the desktop heap issue in the 32 bit version is a non-factor in 64-bit:

  14. I have really been thinking about going 64-bit, especially since I just added 2 GB RAM, bringing me up to 4 MB, but 32-bit Windows only uses 2990 MB. Some of the things holding me back are:

    Absence of 64-bit compatible Windows Homer Server connector for my HP MediaSmart Server. This should be addressed soon in the next WHS update.

    This is a home-built computer and my motherboard pre-dates Vista. There are XP 64-bit drivers, but I’m uncertain if they would work for Vista64.

    Kensington Expert Mouse Trackball–can’t do without it! Kensington doesn’t even offer a Vista driver, though it works fine in Vista 32-bit if it’s installed in compatibility mode. I don’t know if that would work in Vista64.

    And the big one… My work involves evaluating a lot of software. I really don’t need to add any obstacles to that. I don’t know if this is a real issue or not, so would appreciate some insights.

  15. Been running Vista 64 since the start, and in general have no problems. Occasionally one will run into a utility that is not compatible, but overall it hasn’t been a problem.

    In regard to performance in spite of building a custom high end pc at the time @GB ram, 10K rpm drive, dual core cpu etc, it still is not as quick or agile as I would expect.

  16. I don’t think that for most users x64 gets you much. Unless you have a real need to address >3ish GB of RAM, i.e. virtualization and large databases, I don’t know that the trade off (unsigned driver and application support) is worth it.

    I tried it briefly, but ended up going back to x86 because there was no plus for the pain; OK it was nice to see 4 GB instead of 3xxx in the properties dialog πŸ™‚

  17. Hey Ed,
    I’m running Vista Business x64 and it is working very good. I have all my drivers and even with just 2 GB of RAM, it seems to be a bit snappier than the 32-bit equivalent.

  18. Hey Ed,what i think will help in 64 bit migration is a tool like vista upgrade advisor.This programme should verify that core pc components and attached hardware ,are having 64 bit drivers.If this kind of programme is done by ms. I think it can certainly help for 64 bit migration.In my own laptop.Although having all 64 bit vista ultimate disk,4 gb ram.I dint go for 64 bit,i installed 32 bit vista as i was not sure about 64 bit driver.

  19. I may be a lil’ late in this game, but since Vista SP1, the 32-bit version recognizes if you have 4GB RAM.

  20. Ed – you had mentioned elsewhere that 32 bit vista won’t recognize more than 3-gig-and-change of memory, becuase vista reserves higher addresses for devices . . . so if I install 4gb on a vista 32 bit machine, can one set up the ”unused”’ bit of the memory above 3-gb-and-change as a ”ram disk” and have vista run a swap file on the ”ram disk” . . . after all, i can have as big a virtual memory swap file as i want on a physical disk, why not a ram disk?- regards, TC

  21. Interesting idea, TC, but sorry, no. That memory is truly reserved and can’t be made available for other uses with a 32-bit operating system.

  22. I would like to have Vista x64, but Sony does not support x64 in their raw drivers. Does anyone know if Sony will release a x64 driver for the A100?
    Thanks in advance…

  23. been running 64bit Vista ever since i got 4GB RAM, now running even better with my 8GB of RAM.

    i don’t understand why not install 64bit? it runs flowlessly on any new hardware i have installed onto.

    my system spec:
    quad core q6600 @ 3.6Ghz, 8GB of Corsair RAM, Abit iP35 Pro, 8800GTX 768MB and Raptor 74GB + WD 500GB AAKS for storage.
    zero compatibility issues ever since install almost a year ago

  24. Find XP version of Mouseworks from Kensington download page

    Save to desktop instead of Run
    Right click – Extract All
    Open folder that was just decompressed
    Find installer .exe application
    Right click and choose Properties
    Click the Compatibility Tab
    Choose Windows XP SP2 emulation
    Choose Run As Administrator
    Double click the installer
    Mouseworks Install Wizard starts
    Follow all the usual steps
    May need to Restart

    After that, you should have your MouseWorks and your programmable features just as before.

    I have no idea whether this works in 64 bit version, but if anyone knows, I would sure love the feedback before I buy and install Vista Ultimate 64.

    In the meantime, I urge you to post bad feedback everywhere you can about Kensington for putting us through this as well as in the feedback pages of their website. I have done so there and on Amazon, where I have bought three of these, and anywhere else I see Kensington’s name come up. I already had two of the earlier version before this. For this company to decide to orphan a brand new product by ensuring it won’t work on the current operating system is completely and utterly disgraceful.

    If anyone knows of an equal or superior product, I will publicly barbecue my 3 Expert Mouses and to hell with the cost – I am really angry at this company.

    Derek Williams,
    Edinburgh University.

  25. I just obtained a quad core 64Bit Optiplex GX755 from Dell with 8Gig of RAM with Vista Business Ultimate with IE7. So far I have not noticed any increase in performance over my GX745 32 bit XP Pro with 3gig RAM.

    What I have noticed is the 64 bit machine will not download and install server certificates. All I get is a blue box saying ‘Downloading Active-X Control’ and that is it. Nothing else. It will stay like that for hours. I lowered the security on the browser to almost nothing and still it does not install. My internet connection is OK and running at 20Mbps so I know it is not that. My 32 bit machine loads the CA from the same site in a matter of seconds and is using IE6.

    If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

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