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If 32-bit processor support is disabled in Windows Server 2008 R2, how does the operating system run 32-bit programs?

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migrated from Sep 14 '09 at 17:32

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The same way 64-bit installations of Windows 7 run 32-bit applications, I assume. – Joachim Sauer Sep 14 '09 at 15:03
FWIW 32 bit processor support isn't "disabled" the OS runs 32 bit applications just fine. – Jim B Sep 30 '12 at 18:00

2 Answers 2

The lack of 32-bit processor support simply means that Server 2008 R2 will not ship with a 32-bit edition, which means it requires a 64-bit processor to run.

It still runs 32-bit applications through the WOW64 compatibility layer.

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x64 CPUs can actually run 32-bit (x86) code in parallel to 64-bit code. The WOW64 layer of Windows translates the system calls of 32-bit programs to the 64-bit system routines.

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For more info, see WOW64 does a good deal more than just translating 32-bit instructions into 64-bit ones; it's a very large and complex compatibility layer that interacts with a lot of different parts of the OS. – Zac B Sep 30 '12 at 17:21

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