64-bit Windows Vista - Driver and application support




Enlarge pictureMicrosoft delivers Windows Vista in both 32-bit and 64-bit
flavors. While a system configuration with a x64 processor certainly
recommends one of the 64-bit editions of Windows Vista, these versions of
the operating system do come with downsides that customers need to be aware
of. Being essentially identical to 32-bit Windows Vista, the 64-bit editions
will deliver support for 32-bit applications without any problems.

This aspect is one of the pillars of the transition to 64-bit. Users are
encouraged to adopt
the next wave in computing technology while still being able to enjoy the
same programs they used to on their 32-bit system. However, 64-bit Vista
does not offer support for 16-bit applications or components. Old solutions
designed for platforms that preceded 32-bit will not function on x64 Vista.

64-bit Windows Vista also features an additional line of defense against
buffer overflow attacks. Vista's Data Execution Prevention (DEP) will work
in conjunction with the 64-bit processor to prevent exploits, but one major
shortcoming is the fact that legitimate applications and processes will be
stopped if the operating system detects a buffer overflow condition.

Another problem that users will face on 64-bit Vista is the generalized lack
of driver support. Drivers in x64 Vista are a completely different deal than
on 32-bit Windows platforms. And although 64-bit Vista supports 32-bit
applications it does not do the same with 32-bit drivers. The products have
to be prepared for 64-bit Vista, as the operating system brings to the table
a feature called Signed Kernel Mode Drivers. 64-bit kernel-mode drivers will
not be installed in Windows Vista without digital signatures. Also automatic
registry and system file redirection specific to the 32-bit operating
systems have not made it into 64-bit Vista.

And last but not least, the x64 version of Windows Vista introduces Kernel
Patch Protection. PatchGuard is a technology designed to prevent access to
the core of the operating system. All applications - including legitimate
programs such as security solutions - that needed to access the operating
system's kernel in order to function will fail under 64-bit Vista.





"Another problem that users will face on 64-bit Vista is the generalized
lack of driver support."

That has not been my experience. With one exception I can think of (Canon
MF3110 printer/scanner), where there are Vista 32-bit drivers, there are
also Vista 64-bit drivers.

I've also had very few problems with apps that run on 64-bit Vista.


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