What's your point?

By: Stephen H (hsds04.delete@this.aol.com), May 13, 2007 1:55 am
Room: Moderated Discussions
Doug Siebert (foo@bar.bar) on 5/11/07 wrote:
---------------------------
>The desktop OS that follows Vista will almost certainly not support 32 bit CPUs.
>Frankly I wouldn't be surprised if MS didn't dump 32 bit CPU support for Windows
>Server 2008 (why would anyone upgrade a 32 bit server to it when based on Vista
>it'll probably demand 1GB just to sit idle?)
>
>Linux will support 32 bit x86 essentially forever, but the distributions from say
>Redhat will probably drop 32 bit support soon. Probably not RHEL6, but I'd be kinda
>surprised if RHEL7 supported 32 bit.
>
>So give it 3-4 years and I'm sure the number of 32 bit users visiting RWT is well down into the single digits.

I don't think 32-bit x86 will go away nearly that quickly, either as a matter of hardware or operating systems.

For one thing, there are still quite a few new 32-bit-only systems being sold, particularly low-end notebooks using Yonah (Core Duo) or its derivatives (Celeron M, Pentium Dual-Core). These and other recent 32-bit systems will remain adequate for many ordinary desktop tasks for quite a long time.

Operating systems are another matter. Most consumer desktops being sold now seem to come preloaded with 32-bit versions of Vista, even if they have 64-bit CPUs. This may well remain true as long as Vista is the current Windows version. The OEMs probably figure that the support costs of dealing with 64-bit-incompatible stuff outweigh any advantage to be had from going 64-bit. It's not clear that will change until people really need to be able to address over 2-3GB of memory in a single process, which I think is still several years off for the average desktop user.

Microsoft seems kind of eager to dump 32-bit support on the server (as evidenced by the lack of it in Exchange Server 2007), but I think at this point they're pretty well committed to shipping a 32-bit version of Windows Server 2008. The desktop is a different matter, since it's more important to support old/low-end hardware there. If Microsoft winds up taking another 5+ years to come out with Vista's successor, then it'll probably be 64-bit only, but if it's much before that then I think they might do a 32-bit version. At any rate, 32-bit Vista will remain in wide use for quite a while after that.

The major Linux distros will likely keep 32-bit x86 support for a similarly long time. They don't have such a problem with compatibility issues causing people to run 32-bit operating systems on 64-bit processors, but as long as the 32-bit systems being sold today remain powerful enough to support the latest distros, they'll probably keep putting out 32-bit versions.
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