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August 20, 2008 • Editorials

Is 64bit Vista Ready for Prime Time?

There’s been a big push by Microsoft to get everyone to cross over to the 64bit version of Vista. Are you and your hardware ready for it?

I’ve got a MacBook Pro. I purchased the notebook in December of 2006. It’s the low end unit, with a 2.16 GHz C2D processor, 4GB of RAM (yes, Leopard will see and use all 4GB of RAM, despite what you might think, or are told), and a 120GB hard drive. It’s not a bad unit; and has treated me well in the almost 20 months that I’ve been using it.

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The biggest problem I’ve got with the box right now is (obviously) the size of the hard drive. It’s the last upgradeable component left, and if this $2200 laptop is going to stay with me for any justifiable amount of time, then I’m going to need additional storage. I’m trying to decide between a 320GB drive for about $110 bucks and a 500GB drive for about $300 bucks. The problem, aside from the $200 price difference, is compatibility. I’m not certain that the 500GB drive is going to be compatible with my MBP. I’d hate to order it off eBay and then have to worry about trying to return it.

Then there’s the service charge to install the drive. I’m not going to do it myself. I’m not confident that I could change out the drive in this PC, and with the price of the PC so high, I’m not going to chance it. One Apple service provider said they would install any drive I brought them (provided it was compatible); but wanted $130-$150 to install the drive and do a bit-for-bit transfer of both OSX and Vista operating systems. When the service can cost more than the drive, I’m gonna pass. BestBuy can do it for $50 bucks, but won’t do the data transfer due to a tool issue. However, I’m still all over that.

So what does all this have to do with 64bit Vista?? Great question! Bottom line – if I do buy the new drive, I’m going to have to rebuild my whole PC, both Leopard and Vista. There’s no way I’m paying $130-$150 to install the new drive, image and restore it. That’s just nuts.

Microsoft has been touting a large acceptance of 64bit Vista among both businesses and consumers. However, they do admit that there are little to no native 64bit drivers available, especially for legacy devices, like older optical drives.

Microsoft is claiming that 3x as many people are running 64bit vista than there was 3 months ago. They further indicate that 20% of new Windows Vista PCs in the U.S. connecting to Windows Update (the source of these stats) were 64-bit PCs, up from 3% in March.

Microsoft seems to think that the use of 64-bit versions of Vista among consumers will increase as retail channels begin selling 64bit hardware. True; but I don’t know a lot of users that really have need of 64bit software. While many consumer users will benefit from it, eventually, it’s not quite there yet. Again, the biggest issue is drivers…

You would think that many of the items in my MBP would have 64 bit drivers available; and/or that the Microsoft provided drivers would work. Not the case, as I found out 6 months ago when I bought Vista Ultimate, and tried to install it. It recognized all 4GB of RAM I bought, but performance sucked as I had problems with video, as well as other peripherals (like WiFi, Bluetooth, etc) that just didn’t work out of the box. The biggest disappointment then was that Apple didn’t provide 64bit Boot Camp drivers. However, I just found out something very interesting – Apple does have 64bit drivers for Boot Camp!

Back in January of this year, when I built the Vista partition of my MBP, Apple didn’t have 64bit drivers for Boot Camp. Back in April of this year, they released Boot Camp 2.1 which provided an update for Windows XP, 32bit Vista and included drivers for 64bit Vista. All of the information, including download links for all versions can be found here.  The download links are on the right side, near the top, in the Software Updates section.

Interesting how no one pushed out any press on this. This is a big deal, as most of the software that I use, has a 64bit version available for it. Looks like I have a hard drive rebuild coming in my near future, whether I buy that hard drive or not!

What do you think? Is the consumer ready for 64-bit Vista and vice-versa? Which flavor of the Windows OS do you run, 32 or 64bit? Why don’t you join in the discussion and let us know!

Update: Just an FYI… I attempted to install the 64bit version of Boot Camp 2.1. It didn’t work. In order to have the BC 2.1 Update install, you MUST have BC 2.0 installed first. From what I understand, there isn’t a 64bit version of BC 2.0.  The 2.1 file would NOT execute. I am back on a completely rebuilt version of 32bit Vista as a result. For me, 64bit Vista isn’t ready for Prime Time…

7 Responses to " Is 64bit Vista Ready for Prime Time? "

  1. nbast says:

    I upgraded the HD in my 17″ MacBook Pro to 320gig last week with no problems. I bought the drive and a little external firewire case from NewEgg http://www.newegg.com. I put the old drive in the external case. After installing OS X on the new drive, it asks if you want to import settings and data from another computer via firewire. Just plug in the other drive and it will import EVERYTHING. There’s no additional setup to do, just an additional 200 gigs of free space…

    (I use Parallels, and have never installed bootcamp, so I’m not sure if the migration utility will move bootcamp settings and data)

  2. chrisspera says:

    Is 64bit Vista Ready for Prime Time? http://ping.fm/4H2kT There’s been a big push by Microsoft to get everyone to cross over to the 64b …

  3. breley says:

    I had run 64-bit Vista for some time on my custom-built box and it was pretty easy to set up and quite solid, with the exception of my wireless-N pci card…there were only 32-bit drivers available, which did work but wasn’t quite a seamless as I hoped.

    Zonealarm Pro wasn’t compatible, and ZA is pretty popular, and from viewing the information on their site it didn’t sound like a 64-bit version was in the cards yet.

    However, that there are very few, if any, compatible plugins for the 64-bit IE7, and last I checked, the version of Flash 9 available wasn’t compatible. There is a 32-bit version installed in Vista64, but I feel like I’m cheating, though it makes me wonder, what then would be the incentive for developers to support 64-bit extensions and such for IE-64 if users can use the other compatible version?

  4. raymondu999 says:

    Actually, I think your version of MacBook Pro, the 2.16GHz C2D, can only use up to 3.3 due to the hardware limitations. Although Leopard can SEE 4GB, and it can USE 4GB, your MBP can’t use 4GB… You can check in the Activity Monitor… Only Santa Rosa MBPs and above can take 4GB. So although the software can do it, the hardware of yours can’t.

  5. raymondu999 says:

    Doesn’t the initial Boot Camp drivers install BC 2.0? Or does it not do that in Vista x64?

  6. raymondu999 says:

    Sorry for 3 comments in a row… I’m not trying to spam you guys intentionally. I found this page, Chris. Might be of use to you if you still want to try installing 64-bit Vista.

    http://andersonshatch.wordpress.com/2008/04/13/macbook-pro-and-vista-64-bit/

  7. not a problem, raymondu999. I appreicate all of the information. Thanks for posting the links!

    I may try it, I may not… depends on how things go. I wasn’t even going to update to BC 2.1 32bit, as it was giving me grief during one of my rebuilds as well. Anyway, I tried upgrading to it yesterday, and both Software Update (in Vista) and the direct download gave me errors when trying to run the update. I’m not certain why, but I am going to try it from the office today. It may have been the docking station video driver I was using (review pending here on Gear Diary).

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