Office 2010 64-bit or 32-bit? Four Questions to...
Tip: Office 2010 64-bit or 32-bit? Four Questions to Ask when Choosing

Here are four things you need to consider when you decide whether to deploy a 64-bit or 32-bit version of Office 2010.

1. What Operating System are your users running?

The 64-bit version of Office 2010 can only be installed on a 64-bit version of Windows, whereas the 32-bit version of Office 2010 will run on either Windows architecture. Here’s a breakdown of the operating system requirements:

The 32-bit version of Office 2010 requires one of these operating systems:
  • Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Windows Vista SP1 (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Windows XP SP3 (32-bit)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2008 (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2003 R2 with MSXML 6.0 (32-bit or 64-bit)


The 64-bit version of Office 2010 requires one of these operating systems:
  • Windows 7 (64-bit)
  • Windows Vista SP1 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2008 (64-bit)


2. What type of documents are people working with throughout your organization?

Since a 64-bit architecture offers access to more memory, a 64-bit version of Office 2010 supports much larger files. (For example, Excel can handle files that are larger than 2 GB.) Otherwise, the 64-bit version offers little advantage over the 32-bit version of Office 2010, functionality is the same on both architectures, and the 64-bit version has some potential disadvantages (mentioned below in point number 4).

3. Are you upgrading Office or performing a fresh installation?

With the release of Office 2010, Microsoft introduced for the first time native 64-bit versions of the Office applications. This means that even if you’re running the 2007 Office system on a 64-bit version of Windows, the Office applications themselves are not native 64-bit apps. In a 64-bit Windows/2007 Office system scenario, you can upgrade to the 32-bit version of Office 2010 running on 64-bit Windows, but cannot perform an upgrade from the 2007 Office system to a native 64-bit version Office 2010.

4. Does your organization rely on Office add-ins or VBA macros?

If you do rely on add-ins and VBA macros, the 64-bit version of Office 2010 is likely to introduce some compatibility issues. Many add-ins for Office simply are not compatible with the 64-bit version. If you are planning on deploying a 64-bit version of Office, be sure to survey your environment to find out what issues you might encounter. See 4 Free Tools for Planning your Office 2010 Deployment for tools that can help you find and resolve potential issues before you deploy Office 2010.

Note that Microsoft recommends the 32-bit version for most users, and in most cases the default installation is 32-bit.

Tip by Matthew Graven, TechNet Tips Editor.

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