Next Office version to ship in 32-bit and 64-bit versions

Next Office version to ship in 32-bit and 64-bit versions

Summary: You learn the most interesting things when you poke around in some of the arcane files that are included with Windows beta releases. In the recent Windows 7 build 7057, I’ve found confirmation that Microsoft plans to release its next version of Office in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors.


You learn the most interesting things when you poke around in some of the arcane files that are included with Windows 7 beta releases. In the most recent build of Windows 7 that I’ve been able to examine, I’ve confirmed that Microsoft plans to release its next version of Office in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors. That’s a detail that my colleague Mary Jo Foley didn’t discover in her December 2008 rundown of what we know about Office 14

The clues to an upcoming x64 Office release are hidden in an obscure XML file used by the Windows Easy Transfer utility, which transfers settings for Windows and selected applications from an old PC to a new one. In the official beta release of Windows 7 (finalized in December 2008), Migwiz.xml includes the same list of applications found in Windows Vista. But in post-beta builds, this file has been updated to include more modern programs.

Earlier today, as I was scanning through the file to assemble an updated list of applications that can be migrated to Windows 7, this heading caught my eye:

Directly underneath this block of code is a list of programs to be detected. It’s the same list of nine programs found under the Office 2003 and Office 2007 headings, except that the Office 14 section includes an extra “_x64” entry for each one. Here, see for yourself:

In addition, there are separate sections labeled "Office x86 detects" and "Office x64 detects". Elsewhere in the file are sections that cover different upgrade scenarios. For Office 2003, there are three rule sets:

  • Office2003to2007SettingsUpgrade
  • Office2003to14SettingsUpgrade
  • Office2003to14SettingsUpgrade_x64

Similarly, you can use the wizard to upgrade from Office 2007 to Office 14 or Office 14_x64.

The fact that this code is being baked into Windows 7 now suggests that the rumors of an early 2010 ship date for Office 14 are accurate. Having native 64-bit support for all members of the Office family is an extra bonus and welcome news.

Topics: Operating Systems, Collaboration, Hardware, Microsoft, Processors, Software, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I had thought that x64 Office had been known for a while?

    Aren't the TAP folks and other testers using both x86 and x64 Office versions?

    Imagine that, a beta factoid that never got out. Perhaps Office testers are better able to understand their NDA than Windows testers.

    Wish that Microsoft was as niggardly with their betas of Windows that seem to leak even as they are being downloaded by "official" testers.
    Confused by religion
    • This is new info

      First of all, this is confirmed by Microsoft code, not by a leaked memo or e-mail like this one:

      And given that there are only ~150 member sin the TAP program compared to thousands in the various Win7 partner programs, it's pretty easy to see why the info has been so well guarded.
      Ed Bott
      • New info to the public...

        ...known to many since last year. And not just TAP.
        Confused by religion
  • Addins

    The biggest question is whether 64-bit Office can run 32-bit WLL/XLL/COM addins and 32-bit VSTO addins. MS should come up with a painless way so that 32-bit addins still work, otherwise this transition is going to be even slower for me than Windows x64.
  • Since I have computers with both 32-bit and 64-bit

    I am really hoping that Microsoft will allow a CD key for a 3 volume license to work on both 32-bit and 64-bit copies of Office 14!
    If it doesn't.... it would get me quite pissed that I would have to buy 2 copies of the same program to put them on all my computers.
    • Look at the Vista Retail SKUs

      Vista packages (at least Ultimate) came with 2 discs, one 32 bit and one 64 bit, with the same key. Hopefully, Office will do the same.

      Don't know about 3 licenses which has only applied to the Home and Student (Student and Teachers for 2003) version. Retail licenses have traditionally been for 2 installations, one primary and one portable used by the same person.

      A volume license can be had very cheaply (compared to retail) for a minimum of 5 licenses, not all of which have to be for the same thing. 3 office and 2 windows, for example.
      Confused by religion
  • Wow wee

    64-bit OpenOffice for Linux has been around for ages. Come on MS keep up.
    Alan Smithie
    • Sigh.

      [i]64-bit OpenOffice for Linux has been around for ages. Come on MS keep up. [/i]

      And that has what to do with the article? Nothing? Yeah, that's what I thought.
      Hallowed are the Ori
    • Yawn

      Thank you for reminding me how great and grand Linux is compared to Windows. Between this and the billion or so other trolling threads.... I forgot :)
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Cheap Shot I Know

        In all seriousness though, MS are really dragging it's heels releasing a 64 bit version of their flagship Office some 5 years after releasing 64 bit OSes. A 64 bit version should have been shipped at the same time as Vista 64 RTM.
        Alan Smithie
        • I agree

          Office 2007 should have had a 64-bit edition.
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion
        • Why?

          What benefit do you expect a 64-bit version of Word to offer over its 32-bit version? How about Powerpoint for that matter?

          Arguably, Excel could benefit from having access to > 2GB RAM to itself, but only in EXTREME edge-cases.

          Outlook may well benefit from having access to more RAM because it is essentially a database and database client rolled into one, but again, only if you're dealing with colossal PST/OST's.

          So, again, what benefit do you expect 64-bit office to deliver over 32-bit?
          • ME, 16 & 32 bit binaries was a mess.

            When you mix 32 & 64 bit architecture something usually gets missed and oops crash. Best to have all the same architecture if possible.Other reasons include access to registers and functions not available to 32 bit apps etc. A 64 bit app on a 64 bit OS will perform better than 32 bit.
            Alan Smithie
          • No problems on Windows 7

            My 64 bit and 32 bit applications run without flaw on the 64 bit version of Windows 7. I do not think that you can project from Windows ME to Windows 7 or even to Vista.
          • Google "32 bit apps vista 64 crash"

            You'll get plenty of hits ;)
            Alan Smithie
          • @Alan Smithie: Now go read some of those reports.

            Sure, there are apps that will fail when installed on x64. But they usually fail because they try and find files in "C:\Program Files" (which is now the home for 64-bit apps) rather than "C:\Program Files (x86)" - had the app vendor written their code properly, their users wouldn't have seen this issue. Same for the VAST majority of x64 app-compat bugs.

            Alas, there are dumb developers out there too :(
          • 64-bit != better perf

            While some classes of app do benefit from some perf improvements when moving to x64, many more do not.

            64-bit code and data is bigger than the 32-bit equivalent. This takes longer to read and write to and from disk - by far the slowest thing your PC can do.

            Code that can optimize calling conventions, especially code that is iterated in tight loops may well beneifit from optimizations using the extra registers available, but that's generally only smaller portions of a given app.

            The better compute perf and the increased data size perf-inhibitors have to balance out. Sometimes, the result is better perf, Sometimes, not. Luckily the differential in perf win/loss is generally very small and not that noticeable.

            Whilst there are indeed many benefits of having everything on the same architecture, there are also many issues.

            For example, consider all the Office add-ins and enhancements from 3rd parties that will all have to be recompiled (at best; rewritten at worst) to run in 64-bit processes. Last thing you'd want is to move your whole business to Office 64-bit and have several of your LOB apps fail.

            It's much easier for OpenOffice to move to 64-bit - relatively speaking, there were few users and no ecosystem to move.
          • Apps created with one working on the other...

            I create applications with Microsoft Access 32 bit. If I get a new laptop and it is 64 bit will the applications I create with Office 64 bit version of Microsoft Access work with the 32 bit version?
  • Excellent news for developers...

    Many developers feel like Microsoft sold them up the river with lack of drivers that integrate SQL Server on a 64 bit platform with Office files. It's one thing to move towards new technology and provide temporary workarounds to lost functionality because of a major paradigm shift. It's another thing completely to break existing functionality and provide no workarounds. Hopefully with 64-bit Office we'll be back where we were with the ability to write SQL code to interface directly with Office files. It's my feeling that Microsoft didn't really take into account the ubiquitous nature of Excel in the enterprise when making the decision to not provide stopgap measures for office integration. That decision has caused a lot of pain in the development community.
  • What about features?

    For Office to move forward I think they need to fix a few things that haven't worked in the last couple of versions.

    Outlook - the single most used app of all MS apps - on from when you turn your computer on till you turn it off - only supports one exchange account if you use more than one exchange server. MANY people I know have more than one profile and several accounts per profile. I don't know anyone with just one e-mail account anymore. Outlook should let you open more than one outlook profile. Plenty of admins have access to their boss's e-mail but get nervous about having it in the same profile as their account. Please MS consider what your most use app is.

    Access - better support for jpgs - should be a simple as browsing or dropping it into the form. Databases are often inventories and pictures are often part of that inventory - someone shouldn't have to write code just to put in a picture.

    Support for clients who have been using office for years. I have a ton of clients who ask for office 2003 back because they were more productive with the old toolbar. I'm not saying to do away with the new toolbar - just give clients a choice of classic menu or new office menu.