The end really is nigh – for 32-bit Windows 10 on new PCs

It’s 64-bit or nothing for PC-makers from now on. And face it, this isn't the year of Linux on the desktop

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Vintage PC with floppy drive, dot matrix printer and old school desk phone, steaming coffee: a still life. photo by Shutterstock

Microsoft has revealed that it’s no longer allowing original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to pre-install 32-bit Windows 10.

The change was slipped into an old minimum hardware requirements page, with the following text:

* 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.

Ongoing availability of 32-bit media means either retail or B2B channel partners will still be able to sell ye olde 32-bit Windows 10.

They may care to do so because Intel still lists a few 32-bit Atom CPUs as available.

However even Chipzilla’s low-end Celeron kit is 64-bit nowadays.

PC-makers probably won’t much mind this change as it is literally one less thing to worry about. Perhaps there's one or two out there that care and are now stamping their feet in protest and wondering if their customers will tolerate other OSes. Sadly 2020 will not be the year of Linux on the desktop.

But we digress.

Buyers reliant on 32-bit apps don't need to worry, as their code will work just fine on 64-bit Windows and silicon.

The change is therefore somewhat moot in an operational sense, but also significant in that it shows Microsoft has tired of 32-bit Windows 10.

As The Register pointed out yesterday , Windows 10, version 2004 is due any day now. The rumour mill suggests Microsoft will get mighty close to the end of May before unleashing it and the attendant download storms, followed by the almost-inevitable news that it breaks something important for quite a lot of people. ®

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