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Experience with Windows on machines with 4GB RAM or more:

  • XP 32
    Downgrade is OK, but not whole RAM can be used.
    Starting to get driver problems on very new machines.
    Still suits most cases.
  • XP 64
    Forget it. No good drivers available.
  • Vista 64
    It's Vista (slow file copy operations and other such problems.)
    Users just don't like it.
  • 7 64
    Only available as RC1...

I wonder which Windows you are installing on such machines.
For now it seems we'll have to hope and pray for 7.

Edit:

  • This was not clear in the original description: It's about machines for users (desktops and laptops). Not servers.
  • I was referring to XP SP3 and Vista SP1 above. From my experience and those of the users Vista x64 SP1 still has slow file operations, even though I agree that it has much improved over the disaster in Vista without service pack.
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Vista 64 - slow copy operations? Yeah, that was a problem in RTM version. We're in 2009 and at SP2 already. Those problems are gone. –  macbirdie Apr 30 '09 at 9:58
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I don't yet have SP2 and I agree that SP1 improved the situation. But even with SP1 it's still not as fast as XP. –  Marc Apr 30 '09 at 11:31
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Jeff covered this in a Coding Horror blog post... it's not actually slower - the dialog box just stays open for longer or something. codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001058.html and here blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=369&page=2 –  nickf Apr 30 '09 at 12:04

10 Answers 10

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Windows 7 64-bit works fine for me on a 4Gb machine. Win2k8 64-bit also works fine in 4Gb.

We're running SQL Server on several 2k8 4Gb 64-bit machines, the only problems we've seen are with SQL eating all available memory which can be solved by setting the maximum memory option.

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Win2k8 on a users machine isn't an option for us. I made the same observations with SQL Server. –  Marc Apr 30 '09 at 11:33
    
Now that Win7 RTM is available the answer is clear. –  Marc Feb 11 '10 at 8:27

I'm running Windows 7 x64 with very little problems, for a home and development PC its great and have had no problems with it. If you were using it in a corporate environment then you may need to stick with a finished and complete OS, so I'd say Vista x64. I used it prior to 7 and it worked fine for me. On a powerful enough machine, with enough resources it works fine, and the 64bit drivers for it are there.

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My experience with Vista (half a year post-initial-release) has been flawless. I see no reason to avoid it, it's mostly just unwarranted hate due to bad reputation in the initial launch.

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I'm on Vista as well, but I wouldn't call my experience flawless. UAC is way too intrusive, slow file services and steep hardware requirements. –  Brian Rasmussen Apr 30 '09 at 9:57
    
I guess it depends on the environment, but I turn off UAC first thing after an install. Then Aero + Superfetch + Indexing is disabled, and from then on, Vista isn't that much worse than XP IME. –  Mark S. Rasmussen Apr 30 '09 at 10:26
    
I agree that Vista x64 isn't that bad. But disabling UAC is just kind of contra-productive from a security point of view. And why do you disable SuperFetch? The slow file services are definitely a problem compared to XP. –  Marc Apr 30 '09 at 11:35
    
UAC is probably good for non professional users. We didn't have UAC in XP, and most professional users didn't have problems. I don't need the extra protection that UAC gives me, so I disable it. I haven't experienced any issues with slow file services, and I haven't noticed any help from Superfetch. On the contrary, I think the nondeterministic file loading from the SuperFetch service is most annoying. –  Mark S. Rasmussen Apr 30 '09 at 11:55
    
Regarding UAC, are either of you running as a regular user for day-to-day work or as admins? –  romandas Jul 20 '09 at 17:39

Personally, Vista 64 with SP1 (which improves the File Copy issue). It's stable, almost all important applications are compatible now.

OTOH, if your network is still predominantly XP, you may want to stick with that and consider a complete infrastructure upgrade to Windows 7 once it's out. This seems to be common at the moment, companies are skipping Vista in favor of doing a XP => 7 update later.

I don't like Windows XP anymore, the installation process on a modern machine (With AHCI enabled - setting it to Legacy-Mode is cheating!) is a PITA. And XP64 is completely out of Question, it's the Windows ME of x64 in my book, because of the complete lack of support from both hardware/driver and software companies.

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I have a Vista 64 machine and a Vista 64 Laptop as well and apart from an issue with the laptop's camera driver, I had no other problems. So I think that there should not be any problems with Vista 64.

Havent tried Windows 7 yet though.

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Windows 7 64. It's RC only, but rock solid for me.

But make sure you get drivers for all your hardware. I had to abandon an Epson scanner, because they do not offer drivers for that model. Until I get a new scanner I use a VM for that.

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I use Windows XP 64 w/4Gb Ram, i havent had many problems with it, drivers wern't hard to get (nForce Board). As for software support, it doesnt matter to much, everything works fine running in 32bit mode, having 64bit software is just a bonus.

Oh an Hibernate is disabled for 4GB ram+ :(

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You must be lucky. We've seen very strange problems under XP 64. It was not usable at all. –  Marc Apr 30 '09 at 11:45
    
+1 - I'm working with an XP x64 build now, with 8 GB of RAM. We made sure we chose motherboards with XP64 support, the drivers installed fine and I haven't run into anything that won't run yet. –  romandas Jul 21 '09 at 13:32

If you're talking about right now for a business environment, Vista x64 SP1 is the only thing that will do what you want and is fully supported as a production platform. SP2 will be released this quarter. If you can wait, Windows 7 looks good based on reviews, but there are things to consider, like the Windows XP mode which was recently announced that will enter into your decision making and may add complexity to your deployment and support.

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Can you give more details on what kind of environment you are thinking of deploying this in?

For a desktop user who at least knows the basics of install windows then go for 7.

If you are planning to roll out this at a workplace then i would go with vista, i belive it has reached that level of maturity and works well as long as you have a system with vista drivers.

That in mind if you are going to buy vista wait until july as they will be offering free upgrades from vista to windows 7 for people who buy it after july.

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XP cannot accept more than 4GB of RAM (and from what I have been told, anything above 2GB is not utilized properly).

Go with Vista64 - in my experience (4GB RAM) it is fast and nearly flawless (see related question on SOF). If your users complain based on bad publicity, tell them to try it for a week first.

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Just for the record: there's a 64 bit version of XP as well. –  Brian Rasmussen Apr 30 '09 at 9:58
    
Windows just allocates your entire RAM plus your video memory card to the 4GB limit. That's why most people that have 4GB of RAM says that Windows has only 3.5GB. –  setatakahashi May 1 '09 at 0:51

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