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

  • 1
    The same way 64-bit installations of Windows 7 run 32-bit applications, I assume. Sep 14, 2009 at 15:03
  • FWIW 32 bit processor support isn't "disabled" the OS runs 32 bit applications just fine.
    – Jim B
    Sep 30, 2012 at 18:00

2 Answers 2


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.

  • For more info, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WoW64. 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, 2012 at 17:21

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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