32-bit Windows

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32-bit Windows is a version of Windows by Microsoft that uses 32 bits of data to be processed in parallel and can handle up to 4 GB of system RAM.

Windows 95, 98, 98 SE, ME, NT 3.1, NT 3.5, NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and 8 all have 32 bit versions of their installation software available.

Windows 3.1 was a 16-bit OS, but was the first Windows OS to introduce support for 32-bit program calls, albeit in a very early form.

32 bit versions of Windows are, for the most part, backwards compatible with most 16-bit programs (i.e. - programs written for the Windows 1.0/2.0/3.x series), though later 32 bit OSes have poor compatibility with MS-DOS, though this can usually be remedied by installing a DOS emulation program or virtual machine installation of an older OS to compensate for these shortcomings.

Am I running 32-bit Windows?

  • Users ask this question when downloading software, if there are separate versions for 64-bit and 32-bit Windows.
  • In Vista, open the System control panel by right-clicking Computer and choosing Properties (either on the Start Menu or in Windows Explorer)

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