June 26, 2012
32 bit vs 64 bit Windows operating system (Windows 7, etc.)
Almost certainly 64 is better for the longer term but some old software won't work.
Windows 7 64-bit has backwards compatibility with most 32-bit programs. Just start installing them — they should work fine. If you'd like to double check, you can use Microsoft's Upgrade Advisor to see whether your programs will make the jump. For programs that don't work, you can visit the program developer's website and see whether there is a new 64-bit version of the program. [Source]
Windows Virtual PC is free software that provides an environment that will support legacy hardware and software that will not work under Windows 7.
With 32-bit Windows, you're stuck at 4GB of RAM, and even then, you're only using about 3.3GB of it, give or take. With 64-bit, 4GB of RAM is the new minimum standard, and with 4GB, you can run tons of applications with zero slowdown. Windows 7 (and Vista for that matter) runs so beautifully with 4GB of RAM you'll wonder how you ever did with less. It makes your system more futureproof too, so you can take your system to 8GB, 32GB or even a terabyte, before too long.
Most new hardware has 64-bit drivers, and even though most applications aren't 64-bit native yet, 32-bit ones usually run just fine.