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Upgrade: 64 Bits of Freedom

The Key is Mightier than the Bit

It was not until just recently that manufacturers started shipping computers with 64-bit versions of Windows. Prior to that, a 32-bit CPU was the default. Even systems that absolutely should have a 64-bit operating system (such as those with 4 GB of RAM or more) are still being bundled with 32-bit versions of Windows in some cases. Many of the ultralight, full-size laptops, like some versions of Acer's Timeline series, MSI's X-Slim, and Lenovo's U-series, still ship with 32-bit Windows 7. Of course, these are not the only manufacturers guilty of this. Virtually every manufacturer has released a 64-bit capable system with a 32-bit operating system at some point.

Fortunately, the big manufacturers are starting to see the error in their ways and are making sure to bundle 64-bit operating systems with the systems that need it or will benefit from it. Dell was one of the first, along with HP. Even Sony has a full lineup of systems with 64-bit operating systems. However, if you happened to buy your computer before this wonderful revolution took place, you do not have to be stuck with that 32-bit OS.

As it turns out, 32-bit keys are compatible with the 64-bit version of the operating system as well. As long as the product level is consistent, bit versions do not matter. For example, if you have 32-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, that key will work with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium. Obviously, it goes without saying that a Home Premium key will not mix with Home Basic or Ultimate and, of course, a Vista key will not work with Windows 7 and vice versa. One exception to the rule is that Windows XP keys are not interchangeable between bit versions.

The process to upgrade to a 64-bit OS does require a fair bit of work. You have to research your hardware for drivers and reformat your hard drive. This may sound daunting, but we will walk you through the most common method step by step.