What are the requirements of Windows 7

Windows 7: This is how the 32- and 64-bit versions differ

Windows 7 is on the market and many users are toying with switching from XP, Vista or an older system. Microsoft then kindly delivers both the 32- and 64-bit version of the new operating system on separate DVDs in one box at no extra charge (also in the upgrade version, but unfortunately not with the free Vista upgrade), the license allows but only the optional installation of one of the two variants. Those who rely on the inexpensive System Builder versions - for example, Windows Home Premium comes here for less than 80 euros - only receive a DVD with either 32- or 64-bit Windows. But for whom is the installation of the 32-bit version worthwhile, for whom is the 64-bit version? We will show you the advantages and disadvantages of both variants. Windows 7
Image: Microsoft

For end users, the use of a 64-bit operating system means one thing above all else: They can exceed the 4 GB memory limit resulting from the 32-bit addressability (because 2 to the power of 32 results in 4,294,967,296 bytes). Although this is not entirely correct in practice, because the system can only use a RAM size of just over 3 to 3.5 GB due to its structure in the 32-bit variant, everything else is idle. However, today's computers are often equipped with 4 GB as standard, i.e. above the magical limit, and the 64-bit version may be worthwhile here: This enables home premium users a maximum usable memory size of 16 GB, in the Professional or Ultimate version of 192 GB.

Technical requirements for a 64-bit Windows 7

The first requirement to be able to use a 64-bit Windows: The CPU in your own computer is a 64-bit processor. Microsoft itself recommends a check in the system control: With an AMD 64-bit processor, the corresponding information is usually under the general PC information, but with Intel computers, the Microsoft system only reveals this in case of doubt currently used processor designation. You can also find out whether a 32-bit or a 64-bit system is currently in use, but not whether a 64-bit system could potentially be used in the case of a 32-bit system. However, if you use an Intel-based PC, you can use the type designation that is then determined to call up the relevant data for your processor via a subpage of the Intel homepage. For AMD, such processor information can also be found on the homepage [link removed] under "Desktop Products" or "Notebook Products".

In addition, the general Windows 7 system requirements differ slightly: Instead of 1 GB of RAM for the 32-bit version, 2 GB is the minimum for the 64-bit version. In addition, at least 20 instead of 16 GB of free space is required on the hard drive.

Main problem: the drivers

If the system requirements are met, nothing stands in the way of using Windows 7 in theory - but initially only in theory. The drivers can be a fundamental problem: Windows 7 in the 64-bit version only accepts 64-bit drivers - and they are more sparse than their 32-bit counterparts. Even if the situation has improved a lot here and Windows 7 already comes with numerous suitable drivers, problems can arise, especially with older hardware. Of course, this also applies to new PCs when individual peripheral devices are to be connected - a problem that should not be underestimated, because the hardware includes far more than the gray box on the desk and the monitor: this also includes, for example, the tried and tested scanner or printer Mobile phone to be connected or a digital camera. Before choosing the 64-bit version, it is worthwhile to check whether there are suitable drivers for your own hardware. The fact that Vista drivers can also be used, of course only in the 64-bit version, can help here.

With regard to the software, there won't be too many problems when switching to 64-bit: With a few exceptions, classic 32-bit programs run on the 64-bit version without complaint (of course, it cannot be used the other way around). Nevertheless, there can be individual problem cases; Microsoft itself names virus programs as potential candidates, for example.

On the following page you will find out why you can continue to work with your previous software under a 64-bit system without any problems - and whether it is worth using real 64-bit applications.