The era of the 64-bit Windows desktop has arrived. An analysis of system disclosure data as collected by the exo.repository shows that, in the post-Vista era, the global Windows desktop architecture has shifted heavily in favor 64-bit computing. One out of every two (50%) Windows 7 systems is now running the 64-bit version of the OS. By contrast, less than one in five (19%) of Vista systems sports a 64-bit variant.
Figure 1 – 64-bits Makes Inroads with Windows 7
The above data is significant in that it illustrates just how far the x64 computing architecture has penetrated enterprise IT. Many organizations seem to be hedging against obsolescence by investing in 64-bit systems, which are capable of greater memory expansion and support a wider range of hardware-level security mechanisms. It also shows that calls for Microsoft to abandon 32-bit computing, which were widely considered premature in the Vista era, are now likely to gain real traction within IT circles.
One potential fly in the 64-bit ointment: Netbooks. With most Netbooks sporting Intel’s 32-bit-only Atom processor, any push towards a 64-bit-only future will likely meet resistance from mainstream hardware vendors, many of whom rely heavily on Netbooks for their volume PC business. IT decision makers should keep any eye on Atom-related developments and use Intel’s frequently updated engineering roadmaps as an indicator of when Microsoft may finally put its aging 32-bit Windows code base to rest once and for all.