Modern Software Experience

2011-03-06

genealogy industry

64-bit Windows isn't new, 32-bit Windows is old.

64-bit Windows

64-bit Windows isn't new, 32-bit Windows is old. Windows NT 3.1 was introduced in 1993 GC. That is more than 17 years ago. The first 64-bit edition of Windows, Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for Itanium Systems, was introduced late in 2001 GC. That is almost ten years ago. That first 64-bit release certainly wasn't for everyone, but current 64-bit releases are for everyone.

4 GiB barrier

The major limitation of a 32-bit system is that it can address no more than 4 GiB.  32-bit operation system cannot take advantage of more than 4 GiB. Not all of that address space is available for RAM, part of the address space is reserved for I/O and video RAM. Because of that, a 32-bit operating system running on a 4 GiB system will support slight more than 3 GiB of RAM; any additional RAM will remain unused.

PAE

The server editions of 32-bit Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows 2003 support Physical Address Extension (PAE), a processor feature that allows a 32-bit system to use more than 4 GiB, but this feature is not enabled by default. Besides, the best way to take advantage of more than 4 GiB is a 64-bit operating system.

Windows Vista and Windows 7

The retail version of Windows Vista Ultimate, introduced late in 2006, includes both the 32-bit and the 64-bit system. With the exception of Windows 7 Starter Edition, all editions of Windows 7 are available for 64-bit systems.

tip: checking your system

If you want to know if your current 32-bit Windows system can run 64-bit Windows, download Microsoft's Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. It checks your system for compatibility with Windows 7 requirements, and produces separate reports for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows.

Compatibility information about a lot of hardware can be found in the Windows 7 Compatibility Centre.

hardware compatibility

When you install a 64-bit system, you need 64-bit drivers. For most hardware in use today there are 64-bit drivers. One practical approach to upgrading to 64-bit Windows is to continue to use whatever you use today, an simply decide to make your next system one with 64-bit Windows pre-installed. Meanwhile, you check the availability of 64-bit drivers for any add-on hardware you buy.

64-bit software

Sites like X 64-bit Download help you find 64-bit software. Well, to be more precise, they help you find software that runs fine on your 64-bit system. A lot of the software on these sites is 32-bit software that merely happens to work fine on 64-bit operating systems. Most well-behaved 32-bit applications should run fine on 64-bit systems, as these were designed to run the huge legacy of 32-bit applications as well, but not all applications are well-behaved.

Some other sites, such as Start64! list nothing but true 64-bit software - as well as some dual-architecture software that has both 32-bit and 64-bit components.

64-bit Windows applications

I have the Windows Vista 64-bit edition of the Internet Explorer 9 Beta.  Mozilla has not officially released 64-bit Firefox yet, but you can find both Linux and Windows 64-bit builds of Firefox on their Firefox Nightly Builds page. Google does not have a 64-bit build of Google Chrome for Windows yet, but they do have a 64-bit build of Chrome for Linux.
I am running Apple iTunes 64-bit edition. I have 64-bit editions of the Oracle Java Run-Time Environment (JRE) and the 64-bit edition of the Microsoft .NET Framework. I have a 64-bit firewall, 64-bit anti-virus and a 64-bit newsreader. I installed the 64-bit build of NotePad++ as my editor. I use a 64-bit defragmentation tool.

Almost all major software that you run on a daily basis is either already available in a 64-bit build or will be available in a 64-bit build soon. Office 2010 is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit builds. VueScan 9 is available in a 32-bit and a 64-bit build.

64-bit Windows genealogy software

Where is the 64-bit Windows genealogy software? It isn't like the vendors can't use the additional address space; during the many tests I did for my reviews these past years, quite a few genealogy applications ran out of memory when asked to import a GEDCOM file of just 100.000 individuals, and I am far from the only person with a database larger than that.
Many genealogy applications use an database system, and would be able to take advantage of the increased performance of the 64-bit database system.

MacFamilyTree

I know of just one 64-bit genealogy application: Synium's MacFamilyTree 6.0, introduced on 2010 Jul 28. If you have 64-bit Mac with MacOS X 10.6 or later installed, MacFamilyTree will run as 64-bit application.

Windows, Java, .NET

There are many more Windows genealogy applications than there are MacOS genealogy applications, yet I am not aware of any 64-bit genealogy application for Windows.
Sure, Java and .NET applications benefit from a 64-bit Java Run-Time Environment (JRE) and a 64-bit .NET Framework. That includes GenealogyJ and New Family Tree Maker, but these are Java and .NET applications, not native Windows applications, and Family Tree Maker depends on a lot of 32-bit third-party components. Simply put, Family Tree Maker is a 32-bit applications anyway.

Sixty-four bit Windows is nothing special anymore, it is mainstream already. Where is my 64-bit Windows genealogy software?

64-bit Windows genealogy software?

I should be wondering which vendor will be the first to stop making 32-bit builds of their software, but find myself still wondering which vendor will be the first to make a 64-bit build available.

It is 2011 GC and 64-bit Windows has been around for a small decade. Sixty-four bit Windows is nothing special anymore, it is mainstream already. Where is my 64-bit Windows genealogy software?

updates

2012-05-03: Chronoplex My Family Tree

Chronoplex has introduced My Family Tree 2.0, and it comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. That does not make Chronoplex My Family Tree 2.0 the first 64-bit genealogy application for Windows. Chronoplex My Family Tree isn't a native Windows application, it is a Microsoft .NET application. It is the first 64-bit Microsoft .NET genealogy application.

2012-08-30: Chronoplex GEDCOM Validator

Chronoplex My Family Tree 2.0 includes a GEDCOM validator menu item. I suggested that it should be a separate application, and Chronoplex has made it into a separate application. The Chronoplex GEDCOM Validator is the second 64-bit Microsoft .NET genealogy application.

2013-08-28: upcoming Family Tree Maker 2014

On 2013 Aug 25, Family Tree Maker 2014 became available for pre-order. The Family Tree Maker 2013 article, which discusses why Ancestry.com skipped Family Tree Maker 2013, has been updated.
One thing not mentioned there, and not mentioned on the Family Tree Maker site either, is that Family Tree Maker 2014 will come in both a 32-bit and 64-bit edition. This makes Family Tree Maker the third 64-bit Microsoft .NET genealogy application.

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