This post has been cooking for quite some time, quietly sitting on my desktop. Since Miha started the debate, I'm letting it go...
I've had a pleasure to work with the Acer Ferrari 4005 machine for a while. It was a great machine: AMD Turion 2.0 GHz, 64 bit, 2 GB RAM workhorse. Until I left it on the roof of my car and drove off...
Since then, I've been hammering on IBM Lenovo ThinkPad T60p, same specs, although x86 architecture. This is, in all terms, a great machine.
Having said that, I was running Windows XP x64 SP2 + Windows Vista x64, and Ferrari is actually one of the best machines to be on, when running x64. They have flawless driver support.
Let me get straight to the point.
Current prevailing architecture is x86. It's not going to stay that way for long. In the beginning of next year 99% of machines sold will have x64 support. Core 2 Duo is going to sweep the x86's dusty history.
The problem is, the majority of consumer base will decide by comparison, as always. It's just the magic of numbers, again. Imagine all the talking going on inside different computer stores and online forums, speculating how much better x64 is. In reality, x64 is currently (and for at least a couple of years) not going to be substantially faster - in the consumer space - than x86.
Nevertheless, a lot of people, who will now own the x64 chip, will want to run a x64-based edition of the OS. And here the problem lies.
Consumer Windows drivers have not been known for their robustness in the x86 world. There are devices that have real trouble running on Windows XP x86. Even though Vista will require signed x64 drivers, their availability is subject to questioning.
So the situation is this:
- You get the latest and greatest hardware, including a Core 2 Duo
- You get the latest and greatest software, including Windows Vista x64
- There are numerous well known problems with running apps in WoW, on x64 machines
- Currently, general device support is, well, flawed
- The drivers that exist have not been tested - for the consumer market.
Enterprise x64 market is quite different. There are a lot of production systems running Windows Server x64 successfully.
People are going to be pissed. It's Vista x64 and it is not going to launch successfully to the customer base.