Hey folks, I just wanted to do an update concerning a recent post I did with Windows Easy Transfer in Windows 7. Yesterday I finally installed the 32-bit platform for Windows 7 on a old trusty Dell, although the clean install went smooth, I wanted to transfer back my personal files and settings that I had transferred to my Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit RC install on another computer from Windows 7 32 bit beta, since this is my main PC I like using most of time. But, it turned out that it was not going to be so easy. What I have discovered is that although Windows 7 64 bit will allow an Easy Transfer of personal files and settings from 32 bit Windows to 64 bit Windows, it will not do a vice-versa, see the proof below.
Oh really? I didn’t know that!
Interesting huh? I thought so too, but it brings up the question, is this a sign of the final hurrah for 32-bit Windows? Microsoft has not stopped development of 32-bit applications or operating systems, since Windows 7 will be available in both 32 and 64 bit flavors when its released to manufacturing. It does however bring up the issue of supporting 32-bit technology going forward where Windows is concerned. I asked a trusted colleague Bryant Zedegan, editor of popular Windows enthusiast community AeroXP.org why Microsoft would prevent Easy Transfer from 64 bit to 32 bit computers, here is what he had to say:
In strictly logical terms, blocking migration from 64bit to 32bit Windows likely exists in order to discourage rolling back to an old instruction set. Based on what Windows Easy Transfer is able to migrate, I doubt that there would be any significant issues with allowing for migrating data in the 64-to-32bit direction; it’s just one of those things where Microsoft wants to ensure that migration to x64 happens without users rolling back.
In a sense, the industry has been going through a transition from the old architecture for quite some time. Its something that happens every now and then as advances occur, examples include the transition from 16 to 32 bit instruction set during the the 90’s. 64-bit has been much slower because of early lack in available device drivers and programs that can natively harness the full benefits of what 64 bit has to offer such as a larger memory address space, meaning the ability to utilize 4 GBs or more of RAM, increased performance and stability. The release of Windows XP Professional x64 in April of 2005 and Windows Vista x64 in fall of 2006 help to boost the transition, a vast majority of Windows based desktops and notebooks now come with 64 bit processors built in and large amounts of memory. Windows Vista 64 bit has also seen greater adoption in recent times. But this does not mitigate the fact that there is still a large deployment of existing 32 bit only systems out there such as my Dell Dimension 8300 purchased back in March of 2004 that I have upgraded over the years and runs even Windows 7 32-bit well with full functionality such as advanced Aero window management effects.
Conclusion and Recommendations
My primary aim was to at least maintain some consistency between both desktops where personal files and settings are concerned. Although I learned a hard lesson, I was able to transfer back some of my personal files and settings manually from the User folder and AppData directory in Windows 7 RC 64 bit to Windows 7 RC 32 bit, I still lost some personalized settings along the way though. My recommendations for persons in a situation similar to mine is to use the create an Windows Easy Transfer file method and keep a copy of the file if you plan to continue using 32 bit Windows on that same computer, especially when moving to the final release of Windows 7. This creates a safety net for restoring your personal files and settings, although a lot of available space will be needed for storing this information during the transition.