Office Watch

Office 2013

Office Mobile / iPad

Office 2010

Office 2007

Office 2003

Office XP

Office for Mere Mortals



Buying Office

Office 365


Office News Wire

Join us!

Our Ebooks

Mobile | PDA



Command Finder

Microsoft Office Bookshop



64-bit Office - is it worth the trouble?

So much for the difficulties of 64-bit Office 2010 – is it worth it?

View this page on the new web site - click here

by Office Watch

Bookmark and Share

  | Mobile | click for more article services     

View this page on the new web site - click here

Last week we had a lot of coverage on Office 2010 64-bit edition, the compatibility issues and special installation requirements. If you don’t think you’ll have any compatibility problems, is it worth the trouble?

That’s the big question – certainly 64-bit software should run faster than a 32-bit version, but is it enough to counter-balance the installation and compatibility hassles? While a 64-bit computer is faster, it may lack some of the graphics acceleration features of 32-bit systems – Microsoft suggests this could reduce the advantages of a 64-bit computer.

To answer that we “Fired up the Quattro” and have been trying Office 2010 64-bit. Alas, our ‘Quattro’ isn’t a cool Audi with a fire red paint job – it’s an Intel i7 @ 2.8Ghz CPU with 8GB RAM and Windows 7 64-bit edition with Nvidia GTS-250 graphics.

The only VBA code used is relatively simple. There are no add-ons used in any Office programs nor VBA. That means the compatibility problems are minimal – in fact we’ve stuck none to date.

We’ve been running Office 2010 32-bit on the same computer so we can fairly compare 32-bit and 64-bit applications on the same hardware and the same documents.

We've talked about installing Office 2010 64-bit already. Office 2010 64-bit is visually indistinguishable from the 32-bit cousin. To confirm what software is running go to the equivalent of the ‘About’ screen – under the new Backstage menu. Click on File | Help and again look for the magic phrase ’64-bit’.

Office 2010 - About for 64-bit version image from 64-bit Office - is it worth the trouble? at

Starting up Word is nothing special and opening a simple small document shows no apparent speed improvements.

But open up a large Word document, say 100 pages or more with plenty of images, and the difference is obvious. With 32-bit Word on the same computer the document loads more slowly and scrolling through the document is a little sluggish as Word struggles to keep up – nothing major or even annoying and you become accustomed to it. With 64-bit Word all those minor delays disappear! Larger documents open faster and scrolling is as responsive as you could wish for.

The same applies to large Excel worksheets and PowerPoint presentations – the speed improvements are really noticeable on larger documents.

The really massive difference is with Outlook 2010. The lumbering, clumsy beast that is Outlook becomes a still large but more nimble and responsive 64-bit animal. Starting up Outlook with an 8GB data file is no longer a finger-tapping wait. Switching between folders happens when you click, not seconds later. This was a bit of a surprise since Outlook is more reliant on constant reading/writing to the hard drive than the other applications.

When tracking memory use it’s no surprise that Outlook is gobbling up the most RAM. Overall with Outlook running as well as Word and Excel with large documents, total used memory nudged the 4GB mark or about half what is available. That would suggest that a 4GB or 6GB RAM 64-bit computer should be enough for most people and purposes if Office 2010 is your main consideration.

Is 64-bit Office 2010 worth it?

The arrival of 64-bit applications is the single main reason to consider moving to Office 2010.

Frankly we’ve been searching for any compelling reason for an Office 2010 switch-over – we finally found it though it admittedly doesn’t apply to everyone.

If you have the necessary hardware and operating system then 64-bit is a noticeable improvement over 32-bit applications on the same computer. Given that Office 2010 comes with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions included in the physical disk package you can change-over if the need arises.

Our new ebook Office 2010: the real startup guide has a chapter devoted to 64-bit installation and use in Office 2010.  "Things you should know that Microsoft won’t tell you: saving money, installing, configuring and using Office 2010" 

Why is it so?

Why are the 64-bit applications so much faster than their 32-bit cousins – after all the computer hardware isn’t incredibly faster.

The main reason is WOW64 - Windows on Windows 64-bit. This is a special part of Windows 64-bit that converts 32-bit program instructions into the 64-bit messages than the hardware understands. Think of WOW64 as like a translator – any conversation that needs a translator will be slower than when the two people (ie program and hardware) speak the same 64-bit language.

For smaller 32-bit programs the WOW64 translation overhead is minimal and probably unnoticeable, but for larger programs like Office or virtual machine systems the constant translation from 32 to 64-bit gobbles up a lot of computer resources.

Office 64-bit applications don’t use the WOW64 translator. Removing that conversion layer seems to make a big difference to the responsiveness of the large Office 2010 64-bit programs.

A secondary reason for the speed improvement is memory management. Not only can 64-bit Windows address more memory but it seems better able to manage memory between applications. The more a program can work in memory instead of caching to the hard drive, the faster it can run.

Article posted: Monday, 12 April 2010

View this page on the new web site - click here

there's more ...

If you liked this article you'll LOVE our new ebooks.

Office 2013: the real startup guide

OFFICE 2013: the real startup guide Everything you need to know about Office 2013 but Microsoft won't tell you.

How to save money, install, configure and use the new features in Office 2013.  Get it today - click here.

Windows 8 for Microsoft Office users

Windows 8 for Microsoft Office users A practical guide the new, changed and unfamiliar in Windows 8

A focused and unvarnished look at Windows 8, especially written for the many people who use Microsoft Office  Get it today - click here.

ORGANIZING OUTLOOK EMAIL - tame your Outlook 2010 Inbox

100+ pages of practical tips and help to streamline, automate and search your Inbox.  Get more than you ever thought possible from Outlook.  Read it today - click here.

More from Office Watch:

Article Services sponsored by: Office Watch Ebooks - available now to download and read today.
RSS feed for this category Subscribe

Translate | Mobile | Links
 Add to: Bookmarks | | DiggThis | Yahoo! My Web

New & Popular
» New web site
» Two ways for sorting by Number
» Office for iPad, September updates
» Why is Gene Cernan ignored in Word?
» DropBox prices drop but is it enough?
» Sort by hidden column in Word

Office Watch, Office for Mere Mortals, Access Watch and all titles used within the publications are Copyright © 1996-2014 Office Watch.
Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Powerpoint and doubtless many other names are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.

Search  |  Sitemap |  Popular Topics | Privacy Statement |  Advertising |  Twitter |  Feedback / Contact Us
Office Watch is definitely not affiliated with Microsoft - and that's just one reason why we are so useful to Microsoft Office users around the world J (Erko).