Vista x64

One of the major changes on paper for Vista is that x64 now becomes an equal platform with the x86 version, as using the Vista compatibility logo on any hardware or software requires that the item in question works under both the x86 and x64 versions, but the reality of the situation is not as rosy. Along with the other limitations of the OEM versions we listed above, only the retail versions of Vista are shipping with x64 and x86 together; the OEM versions are only sold in an either/or fashion: you can either get the x64 or x86 version, but not both at once. It's possible that this will be trivially easy to work around, however it's something that should be kept in mind if you're purchasing an OEM copy.

As for how well the x64 versions of Vista work, in our first article we called x64 the black sheep of the Vista family, as it was clearly behind the x86 version in terms of compatibility and performance. While we had hoped that Microsoft would remove the gap between the two versions, in our testing this has not completely been the case. Vista x64 is still the product of all the compatibility problems of Vista with all the compatibility problems of a still-young 64-bit platform.

This is not to say that Vista x64 hasn't improved; if anything it has improved more between Beta 2 and now than the x86 version did, if only by virtue of having more ground to cover. The performance gap we initially saw between the x86 and x64 versions has dissolved away in most cases, so x64 no longer means taking an immediate performance hit in benchmarks. However we can't shake the feeling of Vista x64 still being slower, even if the benchmarks don't show it. We've had multiple editors use multiple machines, and general performance in particular just feels slower. At this point we still are unsure why this is, but it's a very real condition that hurts Vista x64.

On the positive side, driver support for the x64 version seems to be about as good as the x86 version (although more testing will be required to completely confirm this). The biggest problem as far as support goes is the applications. Not every application is happy working under the Windows-on-Windows (WoW) compatibility environment for 32-bit applications, and this is on top of the applications that don't work with Vista period. There are very few major applications available with x64 binaries, so without 64-bit applications everything still remains in the 32-bit world for now. Furthermore, as we will also see in our graphics tests, having a 64-bit application doesn't necessarily mean we won't see any performance issues.

At this point Vista x64 is certainly usable if you need it, but we wouldn't recommend it unless you have a specific reason to go that route (i.e. applications that can use more memory). Except in a few cases where 64-bit code is clearly faster, the primary purpose for Vista x64's existence is to resolve the problems of 32-bit addressing space, and we're just not at the point yet where even most enthusiasts are pushing that limit. Once applications begin to push the 2GB addressing space limitation of Win32 (something we expect to hit very soon with games) or total systems need more than 4GB of RAM, then Vista x64 in its current incarnation would be a good choice. In the meantime, Vista x64 shouldn't be used until it's needed or SP1 comes out - whichever comes first. The black sheep isn't ready to rejoin the flock quite yet.

Vista Version Variety Graphical Gotchas
POST A COMMENT

104 Comments

View All Comments

  • Zak - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    I've finally got around to installing RC2 last week: Dell Inspiron 2GHz CoreDuo, 2GB RAM, 7200RPM HD, 256 Nivdia video. Vista is slow, network transfers are 50% slower or so than in XP, GUI is sluggish and all the improvements are pretty annoying. Interface is too busy and overdone. A simple copy message contains a long unnecessary explanation of what's about to happen. Even after turning off the security features one can't escape the annoying popups and messages. And my hard drive was crunching non-stop all day, I can't even imagine what it does to battery life. I haven't had a virus or spyware in years and I don't see any compelling reasons to switch to Vista. I haven't even tried any multimedia features as none of my DVD and video playback software worked properly and I will not use WMP if my life depended on it, so I can't comment nt on DRM and stuff but I've had enough after few days and restored my XP image back to the laptop. If MS tries to force this on people as its, without major improvements, I see Apple and Linux getting lots of switchers. But them XP was bad at first too so maybe Vista will become usable with SP2:) I myself will desperately look for an alternative to Vista. I don't play games that much any more so this won't be "a must" for me.

    Z.
    Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    I'm very afraid Zak. I will upgrade due to Microsoft forcing the issue on us gamers with dx10 vista only but with total dread. I may have to start listening to those console fans and linux fans after all. But the lack of TBS games kills consoles for me...SIGH..

    I totally agree with you about Virus and spy/malware issues. All are resolved or blocked with free third party apps many years now for anyone with the slightest clue. Same goes for Firewall/searching and other features MS lists on their "100 advantages" site. Vista is just late to the party with what we all know how to do and cripples your computer performance and makes everything so dumbed down visually and practically.
    Reply
  • mlambert890 - Saturday, February 03, 2007 - link

    You guys must be using a different OS. I havent heard of anyone with this dismal of an experience at all. If you hate the UI, just run it in legacy mode and it will look like XP. Disable all of the security add ins and they ARE gone. Ive take a Vista machine and set it up to the point that the person using it had no real clue it was Vista but did notice that their laptop seemed quicker.

    Have fun on Linux though. Linux is a LOT easier to use/live with than any MS OS! (I need an eyeroll smiley here)
    Reply
  • jonp - Monday, February 05, 2007 - link

    I would be interested to know if you have installed and worked with SUSE 10.2? as I assume your "...a LOT easier..." is sarcasm. Reply
  • kalrith - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    The second sentence of the third paragraph states, "The reason the low end AMD cards look better off here".

    I think you meant ATI instead of AMD.
    Reply
  • kalrith - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    Another typo is in the last sentence on the first page. It says, "What's a question we hope to answer..." What's should be That's. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 02, 2007 - link

    Technically, ATI is now AMD, which is why we are now referring to the cards as AMD cards. Same thing as ATI, but since they were bought out.... :) Reply
  • kalrith - Friday, February 02, 2007 - link

    You're right...I completely forgot about that. Reply
  • stash - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    WMDC was RTM'ed yesterday: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?Fa...">http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/deta...0-af33-3... Reply
  • stash - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Similarly, launching an application that requires administrative rights is still more difficult than it needs to be. As we touched upon this briefly last time, with the launch of Vista a lot of common 3rd-party applications will continue to require administrative privileges to run correctly, and it will continue to be this way for some time until everyone has had a chance to retrofit their applications for Vista


    Which common 3rd-party apps are you referring to here?
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now