[German]It looks like the 32-bit version of Windows 10 is dying slowly. On new devices shipped with Windows 10 2004, the operating system only will be a 64-bit installation.
The colleagues from deskmodder.de and Dr. Windows looked at the hardware specifications of Windows 10 for the desktop. In the past, in 2014/2015 it was said that ‘Windows 10 is so efficient that it runs on machines with Windows 7 SP1’, but all that has changed. The minimum hardware requirements for Windows 10 devices have been gradually tightened.
Minimum hardware requirements
In Section 3.0 – Minimum hardware requirements for Windows 10 for desktop editions, Microsoft specifies the minimum hardware requirements that OEMs must meet for new devices when installing Windows 10 as a desktop operating system. The following requirements are the same as I understand them to be.
Devices that run Windows 10 for desktop editions require a 1 GHz or faster processor or SoC that meets the following requirements:
- Compatible with the x86* or x64 instruction set.
- Supports PAE, NX and SSE2.
- Supports CMPXCHG16b, LAHF/SAHF, and PrefetchW for 64-bit OS installation
With regard to RAM, >= 1 GByte for 32-bit and >= 2 Gbyte for 64-bit operating systems still apply. The hard disk or SSD for the system must be at least 32 GByte or more since Windows 10 version 1903. But these are all minimum values with which a Windows 10 should be no fun. The more serious restriction is given in the next section.
The End for 32-bit OEM systems
Microsoft has now added a footnote in the relevant documentation as a supplement.
* Beginning with Windows 10, version 2004, all new Windows 10 systems will be required to use 64-bit builds and Microsoft will no longer release 32-bit builds for OEM distribution. This does not impact 32-bit customer systems that are manufactured with earlier versions of Windows 10; Microsoft remains committed to providing feature and security updates on these devices, including continued 32-bit media availability in non-OEM channels to support various upgrade installation scenarios.
In plain words: From Windows 10 Version 2004 onwards, all new devices must be equipped with the 64-bit version of the operating system. Microsoft is discontinuing the delivery of 32-bit versions of Windows 10 from version 2004 onwards to OEMs.
No influence on existing systems
However, Redmond emphasizes that this has no effect on (existing) 32-bit customer systems that were manufactured with earlier versions of Windows 10. Microsoft will continue to provide feature and security updates for these devices. In addition, 32-bit Windows 10 media will remain available in non-OEM channels to support various upgrade installation scenarios.
However, we should be prepared for 32-bit support in Windows 10 to end sooner or later -I would guess 2 years. Microsoft is thus following the path that Apple, e.g. with macOS, has also been following for some time.
Note: I’ve been asked from German blog readers, whether the WOW64 subsystem would be removed in 64-Bit-Windows. WOW64 is a subsystem that ensures that 32-bit applications can still be run on a 64-bit Windows. This will not change in the foreseeable future with 64-bit Windows-System. Apple has indeed made the change from 32 to 64 bit apps in iOS. But this is a different eco-system (doesn’t want to write ‘toy world with apps’), the Windows world is a bit different. A 64-bit Windows 10 without WOW64 would be dead, since most of the applications (everything that is 32-bit) would no longer run. I haven’t heard anything like that as a rumor. Personal assessment: Even in 10 years we will still see WOW64 in Windows. Some exception where WOW64 is missing is a 64-bit Windows PE – and if you’ve ever used that, you’ll notice how annoying the missing 32-bit Win32 support is.