One of our OU Administrators was recently asking for feedback on using 64 bit versions of Windows. From what I have read it seems that x64 computing has truly arrived and I thought it was worth sharing my experiences with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista.
Previously use of Windows XP x64 edition and even Vista x64 to some extent was restricted to a handful of users with special hardware and dependant on special or modified versions of software and drivers.
This is certainly no longer the case (at least in my experience). I’ve been running Windows Vista x64 on a HP xw4600, Core 2 Quad with 8GB RAM and have never seen anything like it!
The performance increase given by the extra 4GB RAM which x64 allows is immense. I am able to run multiple Virtual machines 1 or more GB of RAM each without any noticeable reduction in performance.
I’ve also had no issues with mainstream software compatibility, Vista x64 seems to take running x86 applications in its stride. The software I am running includes Adobe Flash Player , 7-Zip, Adobe Reader, Apple QuickTime, Office 2007, Shockwave, ServiceCenter, Paint.NET, VMWare Workstation and CDBurnerXP.
Paul Thurrott wrote an interesting article describing his good experiences with Vista x64 nearly a year ago and there is little doubt that things have improved even more since then.
If you or any of your users need high performance computing then I would say that Vista x64 is a safe bet. The current low memory prices may also mean that existing x64 capable hardware with less than 4GB and x86 operating systems may be candidates for upgrade.