Hardware and software incompatibility was perhaps the greatest barrier that contributed to pushing back the adoption of 64-bit platforms over the 32-bit versions. Microsoft’s x64 flavors of Windows XP and Windows Vista certainly smoothed out the past of x64 Windows 7, but the transition is in full swing, even with 64-bit systems and platforms becoming the norm. And the general market tendency to embrace 64-bit Windows doesn’t shield in any way other Microsoft technologies from dealing with the lack of support and incompatibility issues. Fact is that customers will need to think twice before opting for the 64-bit flavor of the next iteration of the Office System over the traditional 32-bit release.
Microsoft itself could not agree more that customers looking to jump to Office 2010 should consider carefully their needs ahead of making a decision. The reason is simple enough, they are bound to run into the same range of problems as with the first x64 versions of Windows.
Make no mistake about it, Office 2010 is also a platform, not just a productivity suite. Customers generally turn to a variety of third-party extensions that build on top of Office. Incompatibility and lack of support in this regard are inherent problems, especially with the ecosystem needing to catch up with 64-bit Office 2010.
“We strongly recommend most users install 32-bit version of Office 2010 on both 32 and 64-bit Operating Systems because currently many common add-ins for Office will not function in the 64-bit edition. The 64-bit installation of Microsoft Office 2010 products will be available for users who commonly use very large documents or data set and need Excel 2010 programs to access greater than 2GB of memory. There may be technical issues with the 64-bit version and in order to install a 64-bit version of Office 2010 product users must have a 64-bit supported operating system on their PC,” Microsoft notes.
Considering the amount of cheap RAM that ships with today’s computers based on 64-bit architectures and running x64 Windows, customers will certainly be tempted to opt for x64 Office 2010. However, they first need to consider if they can do away with the 32-bit only add-ins they are using. If the answer is yes, then by all means, 64-bit Office 2010 is the right solution, but if the answer is no, maybe the jump to x64 Office should be postponed until Office 15.