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Consumers Move to 64-bit Computing, Software Opportunities

The topic of 64-bit chips and hardware has been around for years ... and over the same period, there's been the question of whether consumers would adopt the more powerful platforms. Some recent tours of chain stores are suggesting, to me at least, that it's finally in the mainstream.

Triggering the wanderings have been a daughter heading to college and a son going into high school calling for more computers in the house. So I'd been doing some shelf shopping (preferring to have someplace to take the bloody machine back if something goes wrong) when I began noticing that many of the systems, both laptops and desktops, came with 64-bit Windows Vista and a free upgrade to Windows 7. So far that's been across a few major chains and dozens of systems. That has a few implications for the industry.

Most 32-bit software, with the big exceptions of anti-virus packages and device drivers, will work on the 64-bit systems, but they won't get the performance boost that should be possible. Software vendors might consider upgrade strategies that could get the latest-and-greatest into customers' hands. This is one area where very low cost combined with trial versions might make sense. The trial lets people see how much things could speed up, and the low cost upgrade is a way to get consumers to again buy into the company's product line, like renewing the relationship. The vendors need to shut out competitors from taking further value of their consumers.

Even at low cost, this is gravy money if the customers weren't planning to upgrade anyway because they won't see the need if most of their applications will continue to work. And given that people may well be reinstalling software, it would seem like a perfect time -- during whatever phoning home a package does -- for the vendor to mention the upgrade possibility.

Image via Flickr user trekkyandy, CC 2.0.

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