Windows 7 is all shiny and new, and available to the masses. So I thought I would be purchase myself a Technet subscription so I can play with all the new toys that come out in the next year.
I run 4gb of ram in my laptop so I though that I would go 64 bit (and get back that extra 600 or so mb of ram that gets stolen on 32bit machines). The initial install went well, including the install and subsequent windows update yielded a full set drivers for my machine (except the fingerprint sensor, for which Dell haven’t released a Windows 7 driver for yet either).
Everything started to fall apart when I needed to install the Cisco VPN Client. No deal, the Cisco VPN Client wont install on 64 bit windows installs. After some research I found that people were having success using the new XP Mode feature of Windows 7. XP Mode allows you to run an XP virtual machine on select hardware (needing CPU virtualization support). I quickly realised that this wouldn’t be very practical as you can only access the VPN resources from within the virtual machine (I also had limited success in actually getting the Cisco client installed in the XP Mode machine anyway).
So that was it. I need VPN access for my work, and 64 bit was getting in the way of that. Back to 32 bit I go. The installation ran just as smoothly as the 64 bit install, and once again with a full suite of drivers (still with the exception of the fingerprint reader, but that’s not a big loss).
It may be just me but the 32 bit installation even feels like it is performing better then the 64 bit installation, windows feel snappier to move around, open and close and the machine is quicker to boot as well as resume from hibernation. The question that I am left with is that we can run 32 bit applications on a 64 bit platform with wow (Windows on Windows) so why can’t there be a similar situation for drivers. I understand there would be a performance hit for doing this but with 64 bit being ultimately pushed as the way forward there needs to be a solution to allow legacy applications and devices to operate.