Should I Use the 32- or 64-bit Version of Internet Explorer?

DimplesAkaKaren noticed that Windows came with two versions of Internet Explorer. She asked the Answer Line forum which she should use.

The 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Vista come with both 32- and 64-bit variations of Internet Explorer. But the operating systems default to using the 32-bit brower.

They do this for a good reason: backward compatibility. Plug-ins have to be rewritten to work with the x64 version, and a lot of plugins have yet to be rewritten. More 64-bit plugins are being released all the time, of course, so this problem isn't as severe as it used to be. For instance, you can now download and install 64-bit versions of Adobe Flash Player and Google Toolbar. But if Windows were to default to running the 64-bit browser tomorrow, it would still result in a lot of frustrated tech support calls.

Nevertheless, if the plugin limitations don't bother you, there are reasons to use Internet Explorer x64. For instance, the 64-bit browser can use 4GB or more of memory.

Yeah, I know. How often do you need that? But the 64-bit browser appears to be faster, as well. In my own, very casual benchmarks, I clocked it performing 7.1 percent faster than the 32-bit version. More extensive tests by FavBrowser.com showed a significantly higher speed gain of 34.7 percent.

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter, or subscribe to the Answer Line newsletter, e-mailed weekly.

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