Windows XP Pro x64

Wednesday 1st February, 2006 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

In October I bought a new workstation from Dell Italy with a wizzy Intel 64 bit processor.

The base install of the machine came with a localised version of Windows XP and I’m not a fan of these installs.  Being a Native Englazoid – I like to be able to switch langauges when I want.  I guess the Microsoft isolated team environment did it’s usual thing and groups working on one development stream didn’t talk to another doing something similar. 

Why oh why you cannot install the Windows OS MUI pack on a non English version of Windows! 

[small rant] 

The OS MUI pack allows you to add different language packs to your Windows – so you can have Windows display OS dialogs in English, Italian, French, etc when you want.  Users on the machine can have their own langauge version when then login – so I can use English and the wench can have Italian – both on the same machine – running side by side.

The localised version of Windows is stuck in its default language – so if you can have a localised version of Windows in Italian – the OS dialogs, messages, etc are in Italian.  If you want to have English or German OS messages – you have to buy another version of Windows and install it from scratch.

Ok – the MUI pack came out long after the localized version of Windows – but common guys – once it’s out there – merge localised version with the MUI and everybody is happy.  Kinda reminds me of the DVD region codes.

[/small rant]

Anyway – I decided to try out Windows XP x64.

There is a trial version available from the Microsoft site – which after going through their signup – you can download, burn to CD and install.  The install went without problems – new 64 bit drivers were needed for some of the components – and an hour later I was up and running.

Over the past few months I have been working with it – and generally everything has gone well.  The main problem is around drivers – where all drivers need to be 64 bit versions.  Standard 32 bit drivers don’t work.  This isn’t a problem with hardware devices – it appears that vendors have been quick in getting their act together and pushing stuff out to the end users.  The problems I have encountered have been around standard software vendors making little or no effort to bring out a 64 bit version of their application.

Microsoft have done a great job of providing compatability with 32 bit applications – by implementing an abstraction layer between the 32 bit application world and the new 64 bit. 

The criminals in their world are the people like Adobe, who, almost 18 months after a 64 bit version of Windows was publically available (not mentioning the 12 months previously that it was available in beta forms) still haven’t brought out a 64 bit version of their application.  Now – all in all this isn’t a problem. Adobe 7 runs on Windows x64 as a 32 bit application – but the printer driver – which acts like a real printer and hence can be used from any application is a 32 bit app.  Meaning the install borks and any update to adobe borks with an obtuse message.

Anti Virus support for Windows x64 isn’t great with Avast being one of the few to actually have something.

The abstraction layer is all well and good – but I’m disappointed with the lack of general approach to software vendors towards the 64 bit platform – and Microsoft fall into this category.

Vendors are happy to generate a bunch of builds for various OS’s and OS versions – but they don’t appear to be doing much about x64.  The list is long and a sorry story to read:

  • Microsoft
    • Their flagship Visual Studio 2005 product doesn’t have a native x64 version
    • Office 2003 doesn’t have a native x64 version
  • MySQL has approx 30 builds for various OS’s excluding x64
  • Symantec – one of, if not, the largest distributors of Software – doesn’t have a x64 versions of AV, Firewall, etc
  • Firefox, Macromedia, Skype, Nero…

Now it isn’t as if users aren’t asking for it – if you search any of the forums, blogs or newsgroups that many companies are using to offload, oops – I mean, minimise, umm – that should be, keep in touch and support their users; you’ll find people asking for it.  Yet it doesn’t appear or the response comes that this is slated for a future release.

Thankfully smaller software vendors are more responsive – many actually read what their customers ask for and respond with something in a reasonable – if not rapid – time frame. 

Have vendors actually lost so much contact with their customers?!  Is their code base in such a poor, fragile state that recompiling with a few flags that generate an x64 version means their code doesn’t compile?!  Or is it that once they have shipped something they just don’t care about it anymore – and move on to the next wizzy technology that will enable them to fleece, umm, require their customers to upgrade to a new version.

You tell me….

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Entry filed under: x64.

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