While nearly every computer on the market today is running 64-bit, there are still some that might be stuck on the good ole’ 32-bit Windows. It could be that your computer can’t support 64-bit Windows, or it could be it wasn’t available at the time. And, since 32-bit applications (almost) always work on 64-bit hardware, it could be that a 32-bit operating system was wrongly installed. Whatever the case may be, here is how to find out what you are running.
Note: This article has been updated to include Windows 8 too.
Click the Start Menu. Then right click Computer and Select Properties.
The System information page will come up. On the right-side Scroll down until you see System Type. Listed under System Type will be either 32 or 64-bit Operating System.
In Windows 8 there’s a few ways to do it, but the easiest is to use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + X to bring up the power user menu and click System. You can do this from either the modern Start screen or the desktop.
That will bring up the System window so you can see the System type.
Hit Windows Key + X and select System from the menu. Under the About section, you’ll see your System type.
Now you know if you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7 or 8. With this knowledge, you can plan ahead when downloading the software and get the version most appropriate for your system.
Things to remember:
- Most 32-bit applications will work on a 64-bit system
- 64-bit applications will NOT work on a 32-bit system
- If you have 64-bit computer, use 64-bit programs whenever possible – they’ll run faster because they can take advantage of your 64-bit processor
If you’re interested in finding out exactly what version (build) of Windows 7 you are running, check out this groovy guide.
My Windows 7 is 32 bit. I have a 64 bit CD. Can I upgrade from 32 to 64 bit without reinstalling all my programmes?
Nope. I did some testing with this. It is technically possible, but the amount of work it takes is more than it would be to reinstall all of your programs 10 times over.
Here’s a interesting fact: I was recently using a program on my 64-Bit Windows 7 Laptop and got an error that this particular program required the use of 32 bit Internet Explorer. I believe this program actually hinted that I needed to install a 32 bit operating system to resolve the problem. However, after some digging around, I found that my 64 bit machine has both 64 bit and 32 bit flavors on IE installed on the machine (found on the start menu of my machine). I guess MS does that for just this kind of contingency.