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What is Windows 7 64-Bit?
Windows 7 64-bit is a version of Microsoft’s current operating system designed for use on 64-bit systems. A 64-bit system can be identified in Windows by going to Start, right-clicking Computer and choosing Properties. This will display the System screen, where the OS type will be listed against System Type.
A 64-bit system is more advanced than a 32-bit one, and requires just a 64-bit CPU and compatible motherboard to be designated as such.
Certain games and applications will not run well under Windows 7 64 bit – this is a fact. The problem here is with the way RAM is handled; a different volume of data is processed in a 32 bit system than in a 64 bit system.
What 64 bit Windows offers is a step into the future without upgrading all hardware at once, and without requiring all applications to be rewritten. This is thanks to an architecture devised by AMD which specified how to process information from 32 bit into 64 bit.
Windows 7 64 bit will largely allow 32 bit software to run without problem, although as we will see, there are some problems with game compatibility
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Why Some Games Aren’t Compatible
Compatibility for games depends on development. Basically, Windows 7 64-bit wasn’t expected to be much of a hit when most games available in 2010 entered development back in 2007/2008. As a result, many games available in 2010 were designed to be 32-bit.
As it is, according to Steam, 31% of gamers using that service are running Windows 7 64-bit in 2010.
Additionally, with games developed to be compatible with 32-bit versions of Windows there is no reason to expect any problems with 64-bit compatibility if, as we’ve seen, 64-bit processor architecture is designed to accept 32-bit data as well as 64-bit.
For a full list of compatibility with Windows 7 64-bit, you should visit www.microsoft.com/windows/compatibility. This service allows you to search and browse for titles based on their compatibility with either 32-bit or 64-bit Windows – however note that the list is not exhaustive.
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Patching and the Future
For certain games, patching will resolve the problem running under Windows 7 64-bit. Patches can usually be downloaded from the support website of the game in question, although if you’re running games in Steam it will be automatically applied to your installation.
In the future, problems between 32-bit games and 64-bit operating systems and hardware will become a thing of the past as more and more users adopt 64-bit architectures (namely motherboards and CPU's). As with the death of 16-bit computing, this is something that will happen naturally over the next 5 to 10 years.
Additionally there are third party patches available that fudge around with the available memory on your system to force compatibility with any problem games an applications.
However, if you’re a gamer who has concerns over Windows 7 64-bit game compatibility, your best option is to stick with Windows 7 32-bit at least until a patch for your intended game is available, and certainly until all issues that might affect you are resolved.
(Images via www.amazon.co.uk)