XP to Vista 64bit: Should I upgrade?

Dennis Faas's picture

NOTE: Be sure to grab my supplemental report '10 Key Concepts of PC Optimization' at the end of this article for more great tips like this one -- or click here to download now!

Infopackets Reader 'lde4' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I'm currently using Windows XP Home Edition SP2 (32 Bit). I ordered a new computer with Windows Vista Home Premium (64 Bit) with Service Pack 1. Question: Can I use all my old XP programs and games with my new computer using Vista 64bit? "

My response:

The quick and short answer: not all XP programs are compatible with Vista (32bit or 64bit, for that matter). As for playing games on Vista 64bit: it may work but it largely depends on driver support for your hardware. That said, there won't be any performance gain (I.E.: speed / optimization) if the game you're playing is 32bit only.

The long answer:

RE: Will my 32bit XP programs work on Vista 64bit?

Some programs will work, and some may not. Vista 64bit can run 32bit programs (and games).

The easiest and probably the quickest way of determining whether or not a program or game is going to work with your particular hardware / operating system setup is to install the program / game and try it.

Another option is to do research on the Internet to see what other folks are saying, but that might take longer because many pages are not up to date.

That said:

For the programs / games that aren't compatible, try and find an updated version -- and specifically find one that's labeled for 64bit processing if you intend to use Vista 64bit.

RE: Gaming in Vista 64bit

The majority of games today are written in 32bit code. To take true advantage of 64bit CPU processing, the game would need to be 64bit as well. That said, most games rely on your graphics card hardware and not the CPU for the majority of processing, although both are utilized in tandem. Often times, performance of a video card is determined by the video card driver (described next).

RE: 64bit Video Drivers

Not all vendors support 64bit video drivers. In general, 64bit drivers are not as common as 32bit drivers. To determine if there is 64bit support for your particular video card, visit the manufacturer's web site.

Conclusion: 32bit vs 64bit (in general)

If you want to play games and have the greatest compatibility, stick with Windows XP 32bit. It's been around the longest and there's plenty of support for it.

If you really want to run Vista, you may find that Vista 32bit is a better fit as most hardware vendors support 32bit. Vista 32bit is also a better choice for older hardware for the same reason.

CPU: Most Speed, Least Hassle

If you're looking for pure CPU processing performance as a way to 'speed things up', running a multi-core / multi-threaded CPU is likely a better choice than simply taking the leap to 64bit. For example: a dual core or quad core CPU running in on a 32bit operating system will surely improve timings, and have the best compatibility.

More Optimization Tips

If you're looking for more optimization tips, be sure to grab my report, "Unleash The Beast: 10 Key Concepts of PC Optimization" which explains other aspects of hardware optimization (other than the CPU and operating system) ... and best of all: it's written in Simple English!


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