Windows XP 64-bit has been on the market for some time and both Intel and AMD’s current processors are 64-bit. Even cheap office Dell boxes are coming equipped with the 64-bit Core 2 Duo. (This is the x64/x86-64/EM64T/AMD64 architecture which comprises of 64-bit extensions on top of the existing x86 32-bit architecture and not to be confused with Intel’s IA64 Itanium stuff or DEC’s Alpha 64)
You can run 32-bit Windows XP on these processors but if you want to use more than 2-3GB of RAM then you’ll need to switch to Windows XP 64-bit edition (or Vista 64-bit if you’re really brave).
With all this in mind I was a little surprised at the state of 64-bit Windows software when I finally got my hands on my first x64 machine. Here’s what I found.
Microsoft SQL Server 2005
Installing Microsoft SQL Server 64-bit (any edition) complained about a missing or corrupt sqlclin_x64.msi file which could leave you running in circles.
This problem occurs if you have the 32-bit native client already installed. Unhelpfully Add or Remove Programs describes both versions as Microsoft SQL Server Native Client regardless of whether you have the 32-bit or 64-bit version installed. The SQL Installer fails to check for the 64-bit version and throws this cryptic error message at you instead.
Solution: Remove Microsoft SQL Server Native Client.
Internet Explorer only sites that use Flash
There are a number of IE only web-sites that use Flash – Microsoft’s Online Learning is one such example. The problem is that Adobe have not made a 64-bit version of the Flash player available.
Solution: Create a shortcut to C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\IExplore.exe to run 32-bit Internet Explorer for now.
There is no official 64-bit Windows version of Firefox although the 32-bit version runs just fine.
Solution: Try one of the unofficial builds although they are a little dated and there is no patching policy.
There is no 64-bit version of TortoiseCVS and the 32-bit version will not run from the 64-bit Windows Explorer.
Solution: Install the 32-bit version and run from the 32-bit version of Windows Explorer (a pain).
A 64-bit version of TortoiseSVN is now available.
Note: If you like to be able to access TortoiseSVN from the File dialogs in Visual Studio 2005 you will also need to install the 32-bit version as VS 2005’s devenv.exe is a 32-bit application.
Microsoft Visual Studio 2005
Whilst the Profession and Team editions will let you write 64-bit applications Visual Studio 2005 itself is 32-bit only and has some additional performance and compatibility problems beyond those experienced on x86 32-bit Windows.
Fails to draw properly the debugging or lower left info pane. Curious considering it is a .NET application that shouldn’t care whether it is running on 32-bit or 64-bit architectures. So much for VM abstraction.
This bug has been subsequently fixed.
- Start64 contains articles, news and information on all things 64-bit
- Compatibility overview from Microsoft
- Unofficial compatibility database of hardware, applications and games submitted by users
Overall a very disappointing state of affairs.