Many of you – most of you – will get the 64-bit version of Windows 7 on your next computer, so you can use more than 4Gb of RAM. Even if you don’t buy more memory than that at first, you’ll want the comfort of knowing you can add more later. You’ll recall that many devices that connect to the computer (printers, scanners, etc.) will need a new driver specifically written for a 64-bit operating system. Fortunately, those are becoming widespread and many of them are included with Windows.
Setting up the 64-bit version of Windows 7 on my fairly new Dell Dimension 9200 was a piece of cake – time-consuming but not because of anything having to do with its 64-bitness. In my case, the only device not recognized automatically was an old Epson Perfection 2400 scanner, and I quickly found a 64-bit Vista driver on the Epson web site that works perfectly. With luck, your experience will be like mine – trivial problems with a device or program, easily solved.
Here are two examples of 64-bit issues that I ran up against tonight. They happen both to concern PDF files, but I think that’s mostly coincidence.
Quickbooks 2008 crashed whenever I hit the “Send” button to generate an email message with one of my invoices attached. It took a while to discover that the problem was in the “Quickbooks PDF” driver that is installed as a printer. Quickbooks uses it to create the file attachment before telling Outlook to start a message.
This blog entry gave me an answer that worked for me, in the form of an updated PDF driver from Intuit. I had to do some serious work with Google to find that page, and there are a dozen other circumstances described in the blog where that fix would not have worked and I would still have been working on it three hours later. It’s telling that apparently Intuit solved the problem for good – in the seventh patch for Quickbooks 2009.
The other problem came up when I clicked on a link to a PDF file in a web page. Instead of seeing the PDF in Internet Explorer, Acrobat 8 Professional started up with an error message: “Cannot use Adobe Reader to view PDF in your web browser. Reader will now exit. Please exit your browser and try again.”
If I hit “Cancel,” the PDF would open immediately in Internet Explorer, which is the exact opposite of what the message promises. That made me go, Hmmmm. If I hit “OK,” nothing interesting would happen at all.
Googling turned up a lot of people reporting something like this but no consistency. Firefox, IE, 32/64 bit, different versions of Acrobat – nothing that gave me a clear idea of what was up. I installed Adobe Reader 9.1.3, although in general it’s not a good idea to have different versions of Acrobat and Acrobat Reader on the same computer. That didn’t help, but it gave me the option to disable the Acrobat 8.0 add-ons in Internet Explorer, since the add-ons to display PDFs in the browser had been replaced by version 9 add-ons. Voila! PDFs open up in IE right away.
That’s a fairly annoying fix, because I also lost the IE buttons that send a web page to Acrobat with links intact and some nice tricks to make the PDF file useful. The buttons do a better job with web pages than File / Print / Adobe PDF.
So until this is fixed permanently, I have to decide which is more useful – displaying PDFs from web page links without error messages, or creating high quality PDFs from IE with toolbar buttons. Hmmph.
Acrobat also does not display PDF file attachments in the Outlook preview window. “The file cannot be previewed because of an error with the following previewer: PDF Preview Handler for Vista.” As near as I can tell, this is just a bug in Acrobat on 64-bit systems, presumably to be resolved by an update at some point. Eventually.
When you do hit a difficult problem caused by having a 64-bit system, there won’t always be a good solution. That’s not a reason to stay away from 64-bit systems, but be prepared. It will definitely be in my mind when we consider what to get in offices where a shrug might not be a good enough answer.
[Followup 09/16/09: there is a registry fix on this page for the Outlook preview error on 64-bit versions of Vista and Windows 7.]