It is important to know which version of Windows you have, i.e., whether it is 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows. Compatibility of many programs and drivers with Windows depends on this issue. Here, by 32-bit and 64-bit we mean the way the CPU (central processing unit, or the processor) of the computer handles information. The 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows will handle large amounts of RAM (random access memory) in a more efficient manner than the 32-bit version of Windows. It is easy to find out which version of Windows you computer is running.
But, before that, let’s see in brief how it is important to know about the compatibility of the drivers and programs with different versions of Windows.
Which programs and drivers will run on 32-bit and 64-bit Windows?
It may be pointed out that 32-bit device drivers for various hardware such as a printer, that are written for 32-bit Windows, will not run on 64-bit Windows.
However, most of the 32-bit programs will run successfully on 64-bit Windows. But, certain 32-bit anti-virus programs and certain other 32-bit programs will not run on 64-bit Windows.
Likewise, device drivers that are designed for the 64-bit version of the Windows will not run on computers that have 32-bit version of Windows installed on it.
Similarly, a 64-bit program will not work on the 32-bit version of Windows.
If a program or device displays the “Compatible with Windows 7” logo, then that means it has been tested to be compatible with both the 32-bit version and the 64-bit version of Windows 7. Therefore, such a program or device will work on 64-bit Windows 7.
Especially for the drivers for various devices, it can be said that it is necessary to have 64-bit device drivers if you’ve 64-bit version of Windows.
How to find out if my computer is running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows?
The method to find out which version of Windows (i.e., 32-bit or 64-bit) you’re running on your Computer depends on the edition of Windows (i.e., whether it is Windows 7 / Vista or Windows XP). Follow these steps to know this.
For Windows 7 and Windows Vista computers:
(1) Start Windows and click the Start button. Now, right-click Computer, and then click Properties. See the following screenshot:
(2) A window displaying basic information about your computer will appear on the screen:
(3) The “Windows edition” section will show the edition of Windows you’re using, i.e., whether it is Windows Vista or Windows 7.
(4) In the System section, next to “System type”, information about version of Windows is displayed. If it shows “64-bit Operating System”, that means you’re running 64-bit version of Windows Vista or Windows 7. On the other hand, if it shows “32-bit Operating System”, that implies that you’re running 32-bit version of Windows Vista or Windows 7.
For Windows XP computer:
(1) Start Windows. Right-click the “My Computer” icon on the desktop, and then click Properties. The “System Properties” window will appear on the screen:
(2) The edition of Windows XP on your computer is displayed in the “System” section of this window.
(3) The information about which version (32-bit or 64-bit) of Windows XP you’re running, is also revealed by the “System” section of this window. If “x64 Edition” is displayed under it, then that means you’re running 64-bit version of Windows XP. On the other hand, if no such “x64 Edition” message is displayed under it, then that means you’re running 32-bit version of Windows XP.
In this manner, you can easily find out whether you running 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows on your computer. Depending on the version of Windows, you can choose your correct device drivers and programs.