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by JB Burke

Q. I have a relatively new Windows XP system that I’d like to upgrade to Windows 7. What’s the difference between the 32 bit and 64 bit versions? And how can I tell if my computer will support 64 bit?

A. In answer to your first question, search for “64 bit computing” on Google and click on “32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions”. That will take you to a Microsoft site with lots of helpful info. In general 64 bit supports more installed memory, making your computer faster, and provides greater security. It’s all described in the FAQs. Download a small, free utility called SecurAble here. Save it somewhere you can find it (like the Desktop) and run it (no installation required). If it says “64, Yes and Yes”, then your processor (CPU) can run the 64 bit version of Windows 7. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean your computer can run either version of Windows 7.

Next, download and run the “Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor”, easily found with a Google search of same. It will tell you whether the drivers for your installed hardware, such as scanners, printers, etc., and your installed software are compatible with Windows 7, (32 bit or 64 bit).

If you find either hardware (drivers) or software that isn’t compatible, you may be able to find updated versions specifically for 64 bit Windows. You’ll need to do a bit of online searching for those answers. If there are no major roadblocks, then press on and upgrade to Windows 7.

Published: Courier 5/2/2010 - Page 5C