Take the 64-Bit Plunge?
My PC has an Athlon 64 CPU and is currently running Windows XP Home. I'm thinking of installing the 64-bit edition of Windows XP. What are the chances of hardware incompatibilities, and what kind of hardware does my PC need to handle the new OS?
Ian Smith, Denver
Kirk's law states: Never buy the first version of a hardware or software product. You may think this sounds like cynical advice, but over my many years of computing it has proven to be sound.
If you're set on switching to 64- bit Windows, first click here to read PC World's evaluation of an early release, "64-Bit Windows? Wait for Longhorn," from last July. Microsoft's minimum requirements for Windows XP X64 aren't too intimidating: a 64-bit CPU with a clock speed of at least 733 MHz, 1GB of RAM, and 1.5GB of free disk space. If you do install the new OS, I expect that your biggest hardware headaches will involve device drivers. Most devices requiring a driver utility will need a new 64-bit version. Windows XP X64 will include drivers for many, but not all, current devices. Hard drives, optical drives, and other devices that connect via ATA or newer SATA ports, for example, shouldn't pose a problem. But I guarantee that a few printers, network cards, and other older devices, especially those from lesser-known manufacturers, will be left driverless under XP X64, just as they were during the transition to Windows XP a few years back, and during every other major OS upgrade as it rolled out.