Now is a good time to try a 64-bit browser. Just don't get rid of your 32-bit browser until you are sure that you can do without it. You may find that you rely upon a 32-bit add-on, plug-in, or extension which has no 64-bit replacement. Here's the main ones that do:
- Adobe's Flash Player
- Sun's Java Runtime Environmentfor Firefox and Internet Explorer
- Microsoft Silverlight 5 RC Developer Runtime (x64) for Windows
The advantages of 64-bit browsers outweigh the disadvantages. 64-bit programs typically use more memory because 64-bit data is bigger than 32-bit data. But most of us would rather have access to more memory; faster operations particularly for decoding or encoding; and advanced 64-bit security features such as more robust ALSR (address space layout randomization) than that available in 32-bit Windows. And you get all this without having to learn anything new because the 64-bit versions use the same interface.
The 64-bit version of Chrome has been a long time coming but it is well worth the wait. It is first in this list because it is new and many people will want to use it. I have been using both 32-bit and 64-bit versions and often had to check which version I was using because they are so similar. Regarding add-ons, you will loose 32-bit add-on support but Google is changing the add-on framework so all the current 32-bit add-ons will have to change at some point as well. Crhome also has its own Flash player built-in.
Waterfox is my preferred browser and the defacto 64-bit replacement for Firefox because it is now a Mozilla project. It is an optimized 64-bit version of Firefox that doesn't remove major components unlike another alternative Pale Moon. Waterfox is so close to Firefox "that it uses the same profile that Firefox does. If you uninstall Waterfox make sure you don't have the remove personal data box ticked!". The advantage of this is that you can synchronize all your settings between 32-bit Firefox, 64-bit Waterfox, and 64-bit Palemoon.
While Internet Explorer 64-bit is a very good browser, I don't using it much because I have had more problems with the websites I rely upon and work on. Even so, I enjoyed using it as it was also noticeably smoother and faster than the 32-bit version.
Opera has slipped badly with the latest upgrade to a blink-based engine. It is currently missing print preview, the ability to print web-page backgrounds as there is no page setup dialog, the ability to import bookmarks or even a bookmark manager (there is an add-in which you will need to use input bookmarks from other browsers), some HTML entity/character support, and the ability to customize search providers. It also has problems with plug-ins and rendering. Apart from these major issues it ran smoothly and was easy to use.
Microsoft offer no real 64-bit solution for the latest versions of Windows:
- Windows 8 Mail is a Modern UI application but it is very limited. If you use it, you will have to complement it with webmail or another email program.
- Windows 7 does not include an email client.
- Windows Vista 64 has a 64-bit version of Windows Mail which makes it Microsoft's only competent 64-bit email client.
Thunderbirdis our recommended client for the 32-bit Windows desktop but Mozilla's only 64-bit version is the unsupported beta Earlybird. It is good enough to use but be warned that you may strike problems although I haven't ... yet.
Unfortunately, moving from your existing email client to 64-bit Thunderbird 3 can be quite a challenge. Users moving from Thunderbird 2 under Windows 7 and Vista 64 will need to use two third party freeware products, MozBackupand MailStore Home. Migration from Outlook is relatively simple under Vista 64 using the import function. This approach doesn't work under Windows 7 due to changes in the registration of MAPI entries which no one appears to want to acknowledge or address.