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 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, 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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