Good reasons to keep 32-bit Microsoft Windows desktop OSes

Mark Henderson asked:

Server software has been 64-bit only for a while now (Since Server 2008 R2 for Windows, even earlier for Exchange and Sharepoint) and even Ubuntu are pushing you away from 32-bit versions for their server OSes.

But is there any good, quantifiable reason to keep a 32-bit desktop operating system maintained? We’re preparing our Windows 8 images for the (unfortunate?) few that will be early adopters.

The majority of our desktop computers have 4gb or less of RAM, but I would love to not have to bother supporting a 32-bit flavoured operating system any more.

Any reason why I should?

My answer:

Anything that will run Windows 8 is already 64-bit capable, unless you happen to have some first-generation Intel Atom netbooks (and I doubt that very much). That’s about the only thing I can think of.

AMD released its first 64-bit capable Opteron in 2003; and since then virtually every processor they have made has been 64-bit capable.

Intel was a year later, releasing its first 64-bit Xeon (Nocona) in 2004, and expanding to just about the entire product line by 2006. Aside from the aforementioned early Atom chips, every Intel processor today is 64-bit.

Wikipedia has a broken down processor list if you’re interested in ancient history.

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