Nearly two and a half years have passed since 64-bit processors started going into PCs. But the software to take full advantage of these chips remains scarce, and customers aren’t buying much of what’s out there. The 64-bit chips provide greater performance than their older 32-bit counterparts, but that’s because of speed upgrades and other architectural enhancements.
Except for a few workstation users, almost no one is getting much from the 64-bitness of these computers.
"64-bit is sellable as bigger, faster, but in terms of what it does for you, there is very little at the moment," said Roger Kay, president of analyst firm Endpoint Technologies.
The dearth can be seen in a lot of ways. Microsoft released a 64-bit version of Windows for desktops last May, but has sold few copies, according to analysts. A site created by Advanced Micro Devices, the biggest proponent of 64-bit desktops, lists only six games tweaked for 64-bit computing and one partial upgrade."
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I have been running Windows XP Professional x64 since April of 2005, and I have to say I am very pleased with the operating system and responsiveness of my system. The benefits are not realized from 64-bit computing itself since I am running a system consist of basic desktop applications such Office, Photoshop and Nero which I use everyday, none of these applications are 64-bit native, but they run just fine.
The system was not purchased as a future proof move, thinking that it would run Windows Vista at full speed when its released, it was purchased primarily for enthusiasm and I needed a new home system and I am pleased with it. Its doing what I need and I enjoy using it everyday when I come home from work. Obtaining Windows XP Professional x64 was not difficult at all. I had my OEM copy purchased from http://www.directron.com
Hopefully though, the next major release of Windows, Vista will bring 64-bit computing mainstream. I believe it will, since Vista will include technologies that were not available Windows XP Professional x64 such as Media Center and Tablet PC which are beginning to take off. So, I expect to see more innovation from the hardware industry with desktops and mobile PCs that can do it all. All I can say really, there is exciting stuff coming in the 2007 to 2008 period. XP Professional x64 was just a start and does have its benefits for targetted environments.
Windows XP Professional x64 is definitely not an operating system for the average Windows user who is doing basic stuff such as browsing the net or sending e-mails and writing one page documents in Word. But it is likely that by the end of this year, any PC purchased will be 64 bit enabled, which does not necessarily mean you are ready for a 64 bit OS. But it does give the user a sense of comfort knowing the capability is there ready to be taken advantage of by a largely supported 64-bit OS.
The true beneficiaries are the technical ones in the technical environments who require the massive amounts of power this platform provides. Within the next 2 to 3 years 64 bit computing supported hardware and software should be more available than it is today and users will better take advantage of it with the appropriate applications written for the consumer market, so far that is not available.