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Updates for 32-bit software may be needed on a 64-bit operating system, because 32-bit software might be running on that machine.

I was recently notified of an update to Microsoft Office programs (Excel, Word, Outlook, etc.) 32 bit editions. I'm running 64 bit Windows 7. Should I still do the 32 bit updates? They're described as important.

In this excerpt from Answercast #85, I look at the possibilities that a computer with a 64-bit operating system is running 32-bit software or components.

Updates for 32-bit software

Yes. In short, absolutely!

It's very possible you're simply running the 32-bit version of Office. Just because you're running a 64-bit version of the operating system doesn't mean you have to be running 64-bit versions of the applications.

And in fact, even if you are running a 64-bit edition of Office (which to be honest, I'm not even sure it exists), it very likely has 32-bit components as well - which means there are 32-bit components that will need to be updated by Windows Update.

Windows Update

So absolutely, if Windows Update is telling you that you need to update, then you probably need it. The "bit"-ness of it (the 32-bit versus 64-bit characteristic of the update) shouldn't sway you either way.

There is a lot of 32-bit software that is running on your 64-bit Windows.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6218 - January 7, 2013 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
January 7, 2013 9:52 AM

64-bit MS Office does exist. On my install DVD, I have to open the installer manually in the folder containing the 64-bit version. (I say 'manually' because it's a completely different executable than the default Setup file in the DVD's root directory.)

I find, however, that it also forcefully installs some sort of folder sharing/synchronization which is added to all my context menus in Explorer, so I prefer the 32-bit version at this point.

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