With more and more desktop computers and notebooks now equipped with 64-bit microprocessors and x64 CPUs from Intel and AMD such as AMD Opteron, AMD Turion 64/64 X2, AMD Sempron, Intel Pentium D/Extreme Edition and Intel Core 2 Duo, it’s naturally for Windows Vista users to ponder if they should go for 32-bit or 64-bit edition of Windows Vista, as unlike Windows XP, both different architecture versions have already been released to the market.

x64 64-bit microprocessor architecture CPU is backward compatible with x86 (32-bit) architecture (that’s why x64 is sometimes also referred as x86-64), thus a x64 CPU can runs both 32-bit or 64-bit of Windows Vista. For users who purchased a branded computer from OEMs such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer and etc, 32-bit Windows Vista is installed and supplied. In fact, for Vista Basic, Business, and Home Premium, only the 32-bit DVD-ROM is included. Only Vista Ultimate retail box contains both the 32-bit DVD-ROM and 64-bit DVD-ROM. To get the 64-bit DVD-ROM media, users need to follow instructions (no longer valid) to order a 32-bit CD-ROM or 64-bit DVD-ROM directly from Microsoft for a minimal fee, including shipping and handling charges. This hassle and cost to run 64-bit Windows Vista must have a lot of people to think carefully before deciding whether to upgrade and migrate to 64-bit system.

Theoretically, 64-bit computing system has advantages and will yield improved performance, other than allows Windows Vista to take advantage of more than 4GB of RAM memory. However, is it really the case?

Flexbeta (link dead) performed 32bit vs 64bit Windows Vista comparison test (albeit on RC1 Vista release) with the result showing 64-bit Vista hardly any noticeably faster than 32-bit Vista. In some tests 64-bit processing is even slower than 32-bit. This scenario is probably due to the fact that a lot of drivers, codecs, software applications, scripts and etc are still based on 32bit code base, and haven’t been ported to take advantage of 64-bit system. There’s also reports of incompatibility hardware drivers and other problems on various forum threads (link dead).

So as for now, may be the better choice for average users will be 32-bit Windows Vista. Hopefully, do expect all things 64-bit in the near future, as more and more software and hardware vendor supports 64-bit computing. For future proof, 64-bit is definitely the way to go.