The aim of our present article is to share our experience relating to the installation of the 64-bit version of Windows Vista RC1 as well as the creation of a secure testing environment.
The massive spread of 64-Bit operating systems is a technical necessity, which follows from the interconnections of Moore’s Law, an observation recognized for decades, which is also valid for memory size. We discussed this particular topic in an earlier article entitled 'Are There Real Grounds for 64 Bits? A Point Left Out of Consideration'.
Once Windows Vista is released, it will become available in a 32-bit as well as in a 64-bit version. It seems highly probable that the 32-bit technology will reach as far as the limits of its capabilities within the life cycle of Vista; during the same period, the significant development and the general spread of 64-bit technology is expectable, too.
Currently, the spread of 64-bit operating systems is mostly limited by the narrow selection of 64-bit software, including drivers, security software and other system software, as well as of native 64-bit game and user programs. The position of 64-bit programs is, therefore, fundamentally problematic, and the prospects of 64-bit Vista, being in an RC1 state, are even more limited.
In what follows, we will demonstrate how you can create a secure environment using Version RC1 of the 64-bit Vista.
32-bit and 64-bit software - problems under 64-Bit Vista
We installed Vista alongside our existing system using the method described in our earlier article. The installation was carried out unproblematically with the use of the trick of setting the partition active as presented in the article, the end result being a Vista that is completely independent of the already existing system. It is a very important improvement that the memory management has been optimized in RC1, so that a satisfactorily running 64-bit system can be created even on a 512 MB machine, with the size of memory used being around 300 MB. The speed of the operation of the system, too, has significantly increased.
Virus protection and a firewall are the most important software ensuring secure use. The software which currently offers a complete solution is Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security, tested in our earlier article. Unfortunately, this software may only be tested until the 31st of October. Another possibility is to use Avast! Antivirus 4.7, which officially supports 64-bit Vista. We have chosen the latter software alongside the use of the in-built firewall.
Avast! under 64-bit Vista
Avast! Antivirus 4.7, according to the information provided by the developer, is compatible with the 32-bit as well as the 64-bit version of Vista. Unfortunately, this information does not appear in the list of supported operating systems during installation:
Neither version of Vista appears
The installation was completed unproblematically. The software, like the earlier ones, contains mostly 32-bit code supplemented with some 64-bit code. Upon launching the program first, the following message appears:
A fault which at present...
...lacks a solution
Despite the abovesaid, the software runs appropriately, so that a testing of folder System32 can now follow. This test is especially important, and we have indeed written a number of articles on this topic. We copied the test file Eicar into folder system32; then we examined the contents of the folder. Avast! Antivirus 4.7 did recognize Eicar:
Eicar in system32
Eicar is recognized in system32
32-bit and 64-bit software under Vista 64
As the next move, we installed the 64-bit file manager SpeedCommander as well as the 7-Zip 64-bit archive manager. Both software provide a good example to illustrate that even a native 64-bit software may present problems under the 64-bit version of Vista. Even though both software recognize the real system32 directory, neither of them are able to copy files into system32 since they are not prepared to handle Vista authorization. Both software refuse to carry out the operation, and there is no possibility to move on:
64-Bit SpeedCommander - no move on
64-Bit 7-Zip - no move on
It seems highly likely that the existing 64-bit software, too, are burdened with such problems; therefore, the release of versions optimized for the 64-bit version of Vista is expected.
We installed two 32-bit software, viz. the file manager Total Commander and the image viewer program IrfanView. Total Commander does include some optimization regarding Vista, but a typical error occurred during the installation of IrfanView. Any 32-bit software installed under the 64-bit version of Vista will be placed in the Program Files (x86) directory by default. The installer of the latter program is not yet prepared for installation under a 64-bit system, hence the command icon is not configured according to the real situation. This can be seen, among other things, in the screenshot image of the shortcut:
IrfanView - The configuration of the shortcut is not perfect
Following a manual modification of the shortcut, things fall into their appropriate places, and the software runs appropriately under the 64-bit version of Vista:
IrfanView - Everything is in order upon manual intervention
In sum, the currently available selection of 64-bit software for Vista 64 is rather limited. As far as security software are concerned, Trend Micro and Avast! offer a plausible solution. Moreover, not even 64-bit software are fully functional under the 64-Bit version of Vista. The same goes for the 32-bit software which are otherwise compatible with 64-bit systems. The problem is due to difficulties in handling special Vista authorization on the one hand and the separation of 32-Bit and 64-Bit Program Files directories on the other.