Word to the wise: Avoid 64-bit Office 2010

As Office 2010 begins rolling out to desktops worldwide, make sure you understand the shortcomings of the 64-bit version before you buy

When Windows 7 hit the stands, most advanced users reveled in the fact that 64-bit Windows had finally come of age. In spite of a few driver and application compatibility problems, 64-bit Windows 7 promised faster speeds, access to more memory, improved security, and the ability to run a whole new crop of killer 64-bit applications.

Well, I have seen the future of 64-bit killer applications, and it ain't pretty.

[ Should you run 32-bit Windows 7 or 64-bit Windows 7? See InfoWorld Test Center's Windows 7 bitwise FAQ for the straight scoop on Win7 bittedness. ]

The retail version of Microsoft Office 2010 -- which will hit store shelves shortly -- includes both the 32-bit version and the 64-bit version of Microsoft's latest application suite. Those of you who get your bits through Software Assurance already have access to both the 32-bit and 64-bit flavors right now. Whether you love Office 2010 (see the Test Center's Top 10 Office 2010 features for business) or hate it, make sure you understand the problems people have encountered before you entrust a real, production machine to the 64-bit evil twin.

The OS requirements are quite exact. You can only install 64-bit Office 2010 on a sufficiently updated 64-bit Vista, Windows 7, or Windows Server 2008 machine. Those of you stuck with 64-bit XP or Server 2003 need not apply. And installing the 64-bit version from the retail DVD requires a bit of adroitness: Navigate to the DVD's \x64 folder and run setup.exe from there.

Potential benefits of the 64-bit version include Excel's ability to handle spreadsheets larger than 2GB (a real whopper of a spreadsheet), Microsoft Project's ability to accommodate similarly enormous projects, and native Data Execution Protection for potentially improved security.

So what's not to like? Plenty.

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