Microsoft is ending support for new systems with 32-bit processors in the upcoming release of Windows 10 version 2004.
This was revealed in the company’s updated minimum hardware requirements for the operating system.
“Beginning with Windows 10, version 2004, all new Windows 10 systems will be required to use 64-bit builds and Microsoft will no longer release 32-bit builds for OEM distribution,” Microsoft stated.
However, the company assured users this will not impact existing 32-bit systems running earlier versions of Windows 10.
“Microsoft remains committed to providing feature and security updates on these devices, including continued 32-bit media availability in non-OEM channels to support various upgrade installation scenarios,” the company said.
Softpedia News claimed this change could be an indication that support for Windows 10 32-bit could be dropped in its entirety in future.
According to ExtremeTech, the last Windows OS which had more 32-bit than 64-bit users was Windows Vista, and 64-bit becoming the standard with Windows 7 in 2009.
As far back as 2018, a Steam Hardware Survey showed only 1.93% of Steam users were using 32-bit operating systems.
The superior design of the architecture means it comes with a 64-bit register, which can store a far higher number of values than a 32-bit register.
While a 32-bit register is capable of storing 232 (4,294,967,296) values, 64-bit registers have a capacity of 264 (18,446,744,073,709,551,616) values.
Due to this higher number, they are able to reference over 17 billion GB of memory.
32-bit processors are only capable of making effective use of 4GB RAM, a notable limitation given most demanding applications and new games require at least 8GB of RAM to run well.
Operating system developers like Microsoft and Apple have developed 64-bit versions of their software which allow them to make optimal use of higher amounts of RAM.
Upcoming Windows 10 desktop versions for 64-bit computers will require a minimum of 2GB RAM, while 32-bit systems will need at least 1GB.
Both architectures will now need 32GB of storage for Windows 10 from version 1903, compared to only 16GB needed for the previous versions.
Windows 10 version 2004 is expected to launch later this month. The final build is now available in the Release Preview ring for Windows Insiders.