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32-Bit vs. 64-Bit Operating Systems


Since the release of Windows Vista, and even still with the release of Windows 7, there has been a MASSIVE influx of computers coming preloaded with 64-bit versions of Windows.  This is mostly due to the introduction of Intel's Dual Core processor line-up, which allows for safe operation in both a 32 and 64-bit world.  If you don't believe me, take a walk down to your local electronics store and look at the laptops they have on display.  You'll find that about 70% of them come preloaded with Windows 7 64-Bit editions.  So what is so different about 64-bit versions you ask?  Well, I could bore you with loads of specifications and technical reasons, but it comes down to two basic things; 64-Bit operating systems and programs can use more memory (RAM) and run faster due to better multi-tasking (threading) abilities.  That being said, do you actually NEED or WANT a 64-bit operating system?

Unless you are a graphics designer, architect or engineer, the answer is NO; you don't really need a 64-bit operating system.  We live in a 32-bit world.  The applications and devices we all use were written for this 32-bit world.  Would you gain a little speed from switching to a 64-bit operating system?  Sure, just not in the areas you probably WANT to increase speed in.  All CAT Software on the market was written for a 32-bit environment with good reason, reporters and captioners DON'T NEED 64-bit applications.  Main dictionaries, job dictionaries, WAV files, job files, note files, etc. are simply not large enough or resource intensive enough to warrant a total rewrite of an application to take full advantage of a 64-bit world.  As a matter of fact, device drivers (software that controls devices like printers, serial adapters, keyboards, etc.) all have to rewritten for 64-bit operating systems.  So, there is always that chance that your program or device won't work with a 64-bit operating system because it wasn't written for one.  Don't get me wrong, 64-bit is the way of the future, but technologically speaking, it's still in its infancy and not without its own problems and instabilities, which are unacceptable when it comes to a device that directly controls the livelihood of a reporter, captioners or scopist.

Now, that being said, will your CAT Software run on Windows 64-bit - yes.  All the CAT Software out there will RUN inside of a 64bit environment; however it will still run in a 32-bit mode.  So, while you may get that performance boost putting around Windows or the Internet in general (mostly from the extra RAM) you will not see any increase in your CAT Software's performance as it simply can't USE those extra "threads" or RAM.  Given the choice between 32 and 64 bit, I would still choose 32-bit as it still gives you a broader compatibility with all the programs and devices available.  While a 64-bit world may be coming in the future, it definitely isn't here yet and the technology world simply hasn't come far enough to make the leap just yet.