Pentium processors have gotten faster but the underlying architecture has been reasonably consistent for most consumer and small business computers for many years. Changes are right around the corner, and it promises to be a difficult, confusing time. During the next year we will be asked to keep up with terms like “64-bit processors,” “dual core architecture,” and more. We are a long, long way from the era when processors could be compared by simple references to their speed. Here’s an article from a few months ago about Intel’s unbelievably confusing processor choices.

The marketing machines haven’t gotten into gear, but you can expect a blitz within the next few months. Faster! Better! More secure! And also, by an extraordinary coincidence: more expensive! not completely compatible, so you have to buy a bunch of new stuff to work with them! capable of locking things down so you can’t do certain things without paying more money!

Your first contact with the new processors will come when you install Windows Defender. There are two installation files; you want the one named “WindowsDefender.msi,” not the one named “WindowsDefenderX64.msi.”

Expect things to get worse when Windows Vista arrives, the successor to Windows XP. Hardware and software that works with one version of Windows might not work with a different version. You probably didn’t know there is already a completely separate version of Windows XP for 64-bit processors; its users are wrestling with incompatibilities right now.

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