Let's get 64-bit sorted out before we think about 128-bit!

So, it seems that Microsoft has its eye on 128-bit support for Windows 8, or possibly Windows 9, and this news has sent tech pundits into a spin. While it might not be too early for Microsoft to start thinking about 128-bit support, until we finally make 32-bit history, introducing new architecture into the mix isn't helpful.

So, it seems that Microsoft has its eye on 128-bit support for Windows 8, or possibly Windows 9, and this news has sent tech pundits into a spin. While it might not be too early for Microsoft to start thinking about 128-bit support, until we finally make 32-bit history, introducing new architecture into the mix isn't helpful.

The problem is that for most users, outside of power-users, servers and specialist applications, 32-bit is enough. Most machines I come across have between 256MB and 2GB of RAM. Many OEMs are pushing higher amounts of RAM, but the truth is that beyond the 2GB barrier, for the the average user it's a bit like a mule with a bicycle ... it's cool, but not really useful.

If Vista had taken off better than it did (and now that Microsoft CEO Ballmer admits that Vista flopped, that's now fact rather than a point of debate) then it's possible that 64-bit would have gained greater traction over the past few years. OEMs are now shipping increasing numbers of 64-bit systems lately, and rightly so given that for too long customers had been paying for RAM that they couldn't use because of the 32-bit OS that the OEMs pre-installed on the PC.

Problem is, Windows 7 still comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors. To make matters worse, the Starter edition of Windows 7 only comes in 32-bit, and since this likely to be popular on netbooks, and netbooks themselves are popular, gives developers just the excuse they need to cling to 32-bit programming for a few more years. Even if Microsoft announced today that 32-bit wouldn't be supported in Windows 8, the existence of Windows 7 Starter guarantees that 32-bit code compatibility will plague the transition.

So, before Microsoft unleashes 128-bit on businesses, consumers and developers, let's put the final nail into the 32-bit coffin and bury it once and for all. Sure, 128-bit support is a great bullet point to put on Windows 8 sales material, but unless we encounter a pressing need to break the 18.45 exabytes RAM barriers, introducing it in Windows 8 will cause more problems that it will solve.