Windows 7 32-bit vs 64-bit

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 3, 2010
Updated • Jun 12, 2014
Windows, Windows 7

Computer users who want to buy Microsoft's latest operating system Windows 7 have two choices to make. First they need to decide on the edition of the operating system. At least three different editions are available for retail users, they are: Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate.

Windows 7 Home Premium is the cheapest of the three, Ultimate the most expensive. The more expensive editions come with additional features and it is up to the user to decide which features are needed and which are not.

Most home users will be perfectly fine with Home Premium, as the Professional and Ultimate editions concentrate on offering additional features to professionals and businesses mostly.

As I have said earlier this is only one of the two decisions that users need to make. They also have to decide whether they want to install a 32-bit or 64-bit edition of the purchased operating system. This decision does not have to be made during the purchase as the Windows product key is valid for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the selected edition.

But what's the difference? Take a look at the Windows 7 32-bit vs. 64-bit showdown below:

  • A 64-bit compatible cpu (processor) is needed to install a 64-bit edition of Windows. Options to find out include consulting the papers that came with the PC / cpu purchase, asking the vendor or running a tool like 64bit Checker which can provide the information if Windows is already installed.
  • 32-bit systems have a 4 Gigabyte RAM memory limit, which means they cannot address more than 4GB of RAM even if more is installed on the system. There are workarounds but not really for the average user. And not all of the 4 Gigabytes are available for the operating system as devices like the video card use that RAM as well. Microsoft has artificially limited the RAM available in 64-bit editions of Windows 7 to 16 Gigabytes for Windows 7 Home Premium, and 192 for Ultimate and Professional editions.
  • 64-bit editions have additional advantages, including an increased per-process limit, hardware enabled DEP (data execution prevention) and better Kernel protection.
  • But there are also a few downsides, at least for some users: This includes that 16-bit applications do not work anymore in Windows 7 64-bit, and that drivers need to be signed digitally. This could mean that some hardware or applications in rare cases do not work anymore on a 64-bit system.
  • The majority of 32-bit applications will continue to work on a 64-bit systems. It can however happen that some applications do not work at all, or run slower than on a 32-bit system.
  • The Windows 7 installation on the hard drive is larger for 64-bit editions of Windows. Microsoft recommends 16 Gigabytes of free space for 32-bit editions of Windows 7, and 20 Gigabytes for 64-bit editions.

Windows 7 32-bit vs 64-bit, which should you install? If your cpu is compatible with 64-bit editions of Windows, and you have or plan to upgrade to 4 Gigabytes of computer memory or more, then you should consider installing a 64-bit edition of Windows 7. Some users who need to work with 16-bit software, very old programs or stoneage hardware may want to consider using a 32-bit Windows 7 installation instead.

Users who do not know yet may want to consider visiting or using the following resources to aid them in their decision making process:

Have anything to add about 32-bit versus 64-bit Windows editions? Let us know in the comments.

Article Name
Windows 7 32-bit vs 64-bit
The guide looks at the differences between 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows.

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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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