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<Windows 7 Survival Guide: From 32- To 64-Bit ⁄ >




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Windows as a whole -- Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and the operating system's server editions -- has been shipping in both 32- and 64-bit editions for some time now. That's more than long enough for hardware manufacturers to get on the ball and supply 32/64-bit device drivers for everything they sell.

In fact, most every printer, scanner, video camera, or other hardware device you can buy today comes with drivers for both platforms in the box.

That's great if you're buying a whole new system. But what if you're migrating over a printer, scanner, or webcam -- individual peripheral devices from an age just slightly before the 64-bit years?

That's where things get more difficult.

While 32-bit applications generally run without issues on 64-bit Windows, 32-bit device drivers aren't as lucky. There is so far no mechanism in Windows to take a 32-bit device driver, wrap it in an emulation layer, and use it in Win64. This means that a great deal of hardware, otherwise perfectly useful and totally functional, is doomed to be useless to a whole swath of existing Windows users.

There's no reason to take this situation lying down, though. Depending on your budget, circumstances, and needs, you can go a long way -- sometimes all the way -- toward getting unsupported hardware working again in 64-bit Windows.



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