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Difference between 32bit and 64bit Windows

Use 32bit Windows to run 16bit software

In an answer to a previous query, our Helproom Editor explained to a reader how to run GWBasic on a 64bit Windows PC. But as another reader subsequently pointed out - a simpler solution might be to simply run a 32bit version of Windows. Here, our Helproom Editor explains how to run 16bit software on a 32bit installation of Windows, as well as pointing out some of the major differences between 32bit and 64bit Windows.

QUESTION Paul Woffindin wrote to Helproom in your May issue asking how to run GWBasic on a 64bit Windows PC. I was surprised that you didn't inform him of the more suitable 32bit edition. The only advantage of using 64bit is it allows for more RAM, but he doesn't need vast amounts to run GWBasic. Ian Smythe

HELPROOM ANSWER You are correct on several accounts, Ian: both 32- and 64bit versions of Windows 7 are available; the 64bit edition shipped with most new PCs allows them to access more than 4GB of RAM; and the 32bit edition lets you run 16bit software.

If you want to use older 16bit applications such as QuickBasic only, and don't need more than 4GB of RAM, a 32bit operating system is ideal. However, if access to more modern applications and additional memory is also required, there are virtualisation workarounds that let you run such programs in 64bit Windows.

For example, you could take advantage of the Windows XP Mode in the Professional and Ultimate editions of Windows 7, or use a free virtualisation application, such as Virtual PC or Virtualbox, to install a 32bit OS inside your existing 64bit environment.

See all How to articles. Get free tech support in the Helproom Forum.

Visit Windows 7 Advisor for more Windows advice.

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