Windows 7 64 bit; now even suckier

UPDATE: 2/22 I’ve solved the problem, I’ll have a complete report in a day or two to help others that might be up against what I was. I’ll offer a complete “how to”. – Anthony

This is just a short note to point out that if you have an opportunity to buy a new PC or laptop, demand Windows 32 bit OS.

Promises made by Microsoft of 32 bit application compatibility are blatantly false (at least in my case). After two days of pulling my hair out with Windows 7 64 bit Home Premium, then buying the “anytime upgrade” to “professional” which still didn’t solve the problem. My problem: a very expensive broadcast multimedia program that demands 32 bit operation. Yes I’ve tried XP mode and Virtual PC, still fail. I’m faced now with:

1. Returning my new HP laptop and telling them to shove it into the refurb bin.

2. Buying the full retail version of Windows 7 32 professional, making my laptop overpriced.

3. Driving to Redmond and giving Ballmer a swift kick in the butt for being dumber than Steve Jobs at making customers stranded with no place to go.

There’s no downgrade path to 32 bit from 64 bit, no optional install, no recovery, only more money down the toilet for a retail license I already own, which is 64 not 32. Or return the whole unit as far as I can tell. Pissed off I am.

Ideas welcome. Please, no, don’t tell me to buy a Mac or run Linux, as they are not solutions to this particular problem.

REPLY: Update, WUWT readers come through with a solution, providing a way to get a CD ISO of the 32 bit OS, and advising that the COA key for 64 bit will also work for 32 bit, something I didn’t know. Thanks!

The irony: I could have solved this issue with the Technet volume license subscription that I used to have, but that’s another licensing horror story where I fell into a trap I couldn’t recover from. The subscription lapsed a few days, I went to renew it, but found there’s no option for renewal on my login, and I’ve spent 3 months in runaround with MS volume licensing, who sold me a $900 solution that still didn’t work, getting a refund, then being told I had to buy the renewal through external distributors. When I contact them, they don’t know what I’m talking about and a vicious cycle ensues. I finally gave up.

My issues with MS are ones of over complexity in solving what should be simple licensing problems.

Thanks to WUWT readers for their solution suggestions.

I’ll post a new update when I have the results of this new attempt.


newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Richard Sharpe

Heh, the Google add was for Windows 7 64-bit drivers …

Steve R

Dang. My wife has been bugging me about wanting win7-64 for the computer I made her for Christmas. I put ubuntu on it which seems fine to me but she wants win7

Virtual Box.
Free to try, at least for academics. Easy to use.


Umm, Anthony? What application are you having issues with?
REPLY: One that I don’t want to pay the $5k to upgrade to the new extra gougaramic 64 bit compatible one, you’ve never heard of it. Niche market stuff.

Jim Hodgen

Hi ANthony,
Try ViretualBox
It has saved our org a number of times from incompatibilities.. and to that point we even use it for Windows packages that tend to trash their environments as you work with them (e.g. SahrePoint, SQL Server installs). It is also a great way to host your favorite Linux on a Win machine… you will want to have extra memory and processor cores to assign the VM to if you want it to be fast but it is a wholly superior product compared to Virtual PC… no comparison.


Looks like it’s “Curtains” for your Windows 7 64-bit.


Your licence key is both a 32bit and 64bit key. Rather than buy software like that, you should buy a Microsoft Technet membership. It`s around $400 (with discount coupons you can find on the web) and for that you get 5 x licences for every bit of MS software ever made. You can also download all versions of all their software.
TechNet membership is one of the greatest “secrets” ever in IT.

Oh that’s another story where I’d like to drive to Redmond and do unkind things to Balmer. I have (had) a technet subscription…but they have a gotcha, if you forget to relicense before expiration date, you get the privilege of buying the whole thing over again at full price. Yes that’s right, snooze you lose with M$. Spent 3 months on that one. – A


Demand your program vendor upgrade their 32 bit dinosaur to 64 bit.
There are bound to be some incompatibilities with any upgrade, but 32 bit has been holding PC computing under it’s thumb for far too long.
Drive to your program vendor and kick them in the rear for refusing to get with the program.
REPLY: oh I can BUY the 64 bit compatible multimedia train wreck for a mere $5000, care to donate? – Anthony

Eric Barnes

Have you checked the Multimedia App’s website? They may have a patch to fix the problem. It’s not always M$’s fault, (but it’s usually a good place to start 🙂 ).
REPLY none, I’m not stupid – Anthony


& guess what google advertising threw up under your post?

Steve R

Mr Watts, you may not need to buy win7-32. I think if you have the product code for win7-64 that will also activate win7-32. You can just download it from Microsofts website and install it using the product code you have. I think. Call Microsoft and tell them what you want to do.
REPLY: That would be swell, except M$ stupid rule #7286 says “if you bought an OEM pre-installed version, you need to get an OEM disk to match. AFAIK, you can’t do what you say according to what I’ve found. And where would I download the ISO to burn such a disk?
Thanks, nice try -A


Go to EBay get a newish laptop that is running XP, clone the OS over to a Solid state disk, max out the ram and it should be sufficent for most applicaitons.
REPLY: nope won’t work, no xp drivers for this hardware

David L. Hagen

You have my sympathies. Business Vista 64 bit is equally a headache.

a jones

Ooherr. And there was about buy a new laptop.
Well thanks for the warning.
Hope you get it sorted.
Kindest Regards

David Davidovics

I feel your pain. I’m running a 6 year old Hp desktop PC with the XP OS for as long as I possibly can. The current windows 7 64 bit OS on my HP laptop (1 year old) seems to be holding up so far but admittedly I don’t do much more than web browsing with it.
I could suggest one of two options:
1; Get a copy of an older OS onto your computer (you can forget about any tech support at that point but it seems that isn’t doing you much good anyway)
2; Try contacting the software manufacturer to see if they can offer any help for running on the 64 bit OS.
Not impressed with macs either as they seem to suffer from mechanical breakdowns early in life.

Jarryd Beck

We live in the age of the internet, there is always a way that is free.


I had the identical insanely frustrating experience with buying my son a gaming system from Dell. This was the era of Windows Vista and we wanted XP. Only choice was XP Pro 64. Of course its compatibility is very limited. Many games will not work, iTunes no go, and random programs (as in all of The Sims) just do not work. Try telling your 8 year old that his brand new computer won’t work with his favorite games :(. Not fun.
I suspect you will have identical problems with Win 7 64 as well.
As you have found out, trying to “downgrade” your system is an impossibility. I ended up buying a OEM version instead of the full retail. You will not get support with the OEM version, you cannot port it to a new computer when you upgrade, but then again, when did Microsoft ever really give support, and when has anyone actually successfully migrated their old OS to a new system? Not often I would guess – in my case, never.
Best of luck!

I bought a Windows 7 upgrade family pack that includes both a 32 bit disk and a 64 bit install disk and provides for 3 liscences, which worked out to about $60 per install.
Odd that 32 bit software would not run on 64 bit Windows 7. If the software contains 16 bit code, then it is not supported. If it also functions with hardware that does not have any 64 bit drivers, then I can see that as a reason.
I have TV tuners that only work on my Windows 7 64 bit if I disable my 6 GB or ram to be only under 4 GB (I end up with 3.5 GB using msconfig.exe)
REPLY: Yeah, hardware intensive, its the drivers, not the OS most likely – A

Eric Barnes

You may also want to see what dll’s are loaded when the app starts on windows 7 64 bit using depends . There may be a dll conflict . It also might be worth a try to see what versions of the dll’s loaded on your previous machine and copy those dll’s over to the applications working directory. IMO, it’s worth a shot.

This does not always work and you may have to fiddle with assigning specific ports…. I had to do this for the satellite communications management link I look after…
Approach One: Install windows 7, 64 bit professional. Then install windows XP as a virtual machine (you need a license). Then once that is working and you are confident that you have the virtual machine figured out, Install your program under windows XP.
Approach two: Install 64 Bit Linux (Suse 64 can do this). Install bot Windows 7 and Windows XP as virtual machine. Manage the port access as necessary.
If I were not in the Toronto area I would drop by and take a crack at this. Oh well!
One point, Eight (8) GB or 16GB of RAM is best. The larger the hard drive the better — hopefully you got a 500 GB Drive or better.


REPLY: nope won’t work, no xp drivers for this hardware
I meant to just buy an existing laptop from EBay that already has XP. Once you update to an SSD and 4 GB of ram, it will be quicker than a new PC with a normal hard drive.
Return the new one you bought new to the retailer.


REPLY: oh I can BUY the 64 bit compatible multimedia train wreck for a mere $5000, care to donate? – Anthony
Sure, I’ll donate $5, but only if you drive to Redmond and kick Ballmer on general principles (but not on the incompatibility of some programs with 64 bit OSs).


So, you have an application that requires real 32 bit windows, and hardware that has no 32 bit drivers available for it.
The drivers are not going to magically appear, so it seems to me that your only option is to change the hardware. Good luck finding the appropriate hardware. M$ have pushed all the hardware vendors into new generation hardware to support their DRM.

Or even this approach…
Good luck.


I have win7-64 and haven’t had any problems, even with my old 32-bit applications. It runs them just fine. I copied over a lot of my old Windows Vista 32-bit applications and haven’t found one yet that hasn’t run right.
REPLY: And I’m betting none of your apps are hardware intensive.

Mark Twang

Microsoft: Proof that Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is a fairy tale.

Here is the Link for Microsoft Virtual PC
The link on the page takes you to the virtual PC.


I do not think it is fair to blame microsoft for this issue at all. At the end of the day 64bit OS’s from Microsoft have now been out for almost 7 years (since XP 64bit). Originally lots of items didn’t work as well as expected. ISV’s have to do their part as well, generally I have found items that didn’t work in the 64bit spaces have been using non standard APIs etc that are not supported by Mircosoft on the new platforms.
The most common areas of complaint come from ISVs porting the code continually from much older OS’s (Win 3.11/Win 95 etc) a lot of that originally written code doesn’t run well any more on Windows 7 64bit. However I have only had issues with 1 application in the 4 years I have been running Vista and Windows 7 64bit.
REPLY: No, I still blame M$ for not offering a simple way to “downgrade” to 32 bit if you need it. Almost every new PC today come with 64 bit, and they give no options to solve the issue if you need to. – A


Anthony, email me and I will send you an OEM Windows 7 32-bit disk. Then you can use the license key you already have. I’m an OEM…


I had a similar experience. The only solution I could find was to return the computer and order one from Dell the with an older operating system. I would advise you do the same and save yourself further frustration.


Anthony, you need to get your hands on the Windows 7 opk (OEM Preinstallation Kit).
Email me offline and I’ll help.


Exactly what hardware are you trying to make work? Maybe it was mentioned but I can’t see it.
Ok, I guess mine works because the hardware I am running is all native to the laptop and has all the 64-bit native drivers.

Stephen Chu

Maybe this is what you want?
Basically you can backup the license files from your 64-bit OEM installation and restore it onto a 32-bit installation of the same version (pro, home, etc) on the same machines. I did similar thing with Vista on a Dell machine, only the other way around. I was switching from 32- to 64-bit.


Just setting up a Sony e-Series laptop right now with Windows 7 64bit. Guess what – the keyboard and touchpad don’t work – even with Sony’s latest drivers. Both shut down the moment BIOS is done and Win7 boots…
…so it’s a phone call to Sony in the morning.
God I love Windows 2000 and XP…and keep all my copies and licenses stored away.
REPLY: your best bet is to return your Sony laptop. Sony makes great audio/video, but is in my opinion the worst manufacturer of computer hardware on the planet. Every Sony PC I’ve ever seen is hosed in some way. They’ve never hit a home run and they are overpriced trouble magnets.
There’s still a dent in the wall at the TV station where a former engineer threw one after spending a week on it. Not kidding. I had a Sony laptop for two days 6 years ago, battery was so crappy it couldn’t even finish playing a DVD. Battery lasted 42 minutes! An one of the touted features was “watch movies on the DVD” – A


Not an uncommon problem with audio/video programs, but the problem is the PROGRAM and you should be hammering the software company to fix their code….
(I’m a musician and I wont get a new 64bit computer/OS until everything I use WORKS!)
REPLY: They have a solution for 64 bit, $5K and I throw my previous investment away. -A


Agreed. My W7 64 bit has already died. I’m back with my old 32 bit. But I need a fast computer for high def video editing. A squirrely 64 or a slow 32? And no one seems in a rush to make their programs 64 bit friendly.

Andy Malone

It might seem silly but 7- 64 can run a Virtual XP machine at no extra charge while you wait for your vendor to upgrade to 64 bit.
My wife has several legacy desktop publish packages that she uses infrequently for updating project from 10 and 15 years ago and she runs it all on her HP laptop as a virtual XP mode application in 32bit. Works like a charm and she has the large memory space for all the more current applications when she wants she can move the applications files over to more current version. Again no charge. Good luck. Windows 7 is awesome.
REPLY:I’m completely happy with windows 7 32 bit, but as to virtual machine, been there done that, thanks. But not an option


Newegg sells the OEM version of Win 7 Home Premium 32 for $99.

Bob H.

One question: Have you considered possibly using Linux running WINE? Before the latest versions of Windows Server software, many businesses had their servers running Linux and using WINE running the Windows Server software for windows compatibility, and it was more stable than the Microsoft products.
In terms of your particular problem, if the application won’t install on Win 7-64, then you’re stuck. On the other hand, some of the software requires the user to install the app with the “Run as Administrator” option, even if the user is an administrator. My main gripe is Microsoft labeling the 64-bit environment as “Program Files” rather than “Program Files (x64)” and making the 32-bit environment as “Program Files (x86)” rather than “Program Files.” If your app has a hard-coded path, then your only option is a 32-bit OS, whether real or virtual.
I’ve had some success deploying software out to about 2,300 Win 7-64 machines, including some really exotic bridge software that still runs on DOS! and have managed to get it all to work one way or another (some are running on a vm).
REPLY: this is a multimedia program, WINE won’t work, way too slow…which is the problems with most VM’s…they are too slow. Program times out since it talks to hardware heavily -A


Can you tell us a bit more about the mode of failure? Is it different under Virtual PC and native under WOW64?


Hi Anthony,
Can’t yo make a dual-boot with XP Pro 32? If you have a licence left, of course.
We could even organize a donation for it. Or you could do a virtual garage-sale 🙂


Anthony and mods,
The Australian newspaper reports earthquake in Christchurch, South Island NZ at 1.00pm today.
Advise people NOT to ring, networks jammed. Can use 1300 55 135 to ask of relatives and friends.
Could not post on Tips and Notes as no ‘leave a reply’ box.


1300 555 135


I can’t help you directly … but just a general comment about how Microsoft has made suckers of us all. I’m still reeling from the release of Office 2007 ….. I used to be quite profiecient at XL, PPT etc …. but after 2 years I am still like a baby trying to get these things to do what I took for granted. Having taught everyone to speak French they should have been hung drawn and quartered for making everyone speak Spanish.
Good riddance to them.

Tom T

I’d go with option number 3, but try for Gates.

3. Driving to Redmond and giving Ballmer a swift kick in the butt for being dumber than Steve Jobs at making customers stranded with no place to go.
I think this is deliberate [they always want you to upgrade, upgrade, upgrade; not the other way around]. I upgraded in January from XP straight to Win7 [but was not dumb enough to go 64-bit] and it took three weeks to get everything back in working order. I have an extensive library of scientific programs that I have developed over 30 years. These are even 16-bit and thus MUCH harder to upgrade [plus that I don’t want to be forced to do this at a time that is inconvenient for me]. So, why did I upgrade from XP? because some disk sectors somewhere in WinXP had gone bad, and my computer had had enough hardware upgrades that I could no longer activate WinXP. Anyway, I feel with you.


Program times out since it talks to hardware heavily -A

What hardware? Is it pulling some nasty IO-port polling stunt? If so you’ve got no chance. Don’t forget 32-bit code is running under WOW64, really time critical stuff like that won’t work, period. Same deal under V-PC or whatever.

Tom T

BTW there is an ad on this page that says click here to download windows 7 64 bit drivers. You have to love these ads.


I mostly run Linux these days but I’ve yet to find anything that won’t run on Windows 7 x64 other than old 16-bit games which the 64-bit CPUs can’t run natively. That includes HD editing with Avid Media Composer, which is pretty hardware-intensive.
So to me it doesn’t seem like a generic Windows problem, but software developers who refuse to support their old software which installs 32-bit drivers.

Mark Wagner

While I cannot help you with your issue, I will say that I hate (and I’m using the word “hate”here) Microsoft.
As a CPA, if I had ANY other option that would allow me to continue to run my apps and trade files back and forth with clients, I’d take it in a heartbeat.