Why Windows Vista only sees 3GB memory in a PC with 4GB RAM and how Vista SP1 fools its users

Michael PietroforteMVP By Michael Pietroforte - Wed, April 9, 2008 - 42 comments google+ icon

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor of 4sysops. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) with more than 30 years of experience in system administration.

Memory is getting cheaper every day. This is one reason why more and more people are equipping their PCs with 4GB RAM or more. Modern desktops often support up to 8GB. So it happens quite often these days that a proud owner of a new a PC wonders why Vista only reports about 3GB RAM even though he bought 4GB. I have been asked this question by several people within the last weeks. Some of them were IT pros, so I thought I should post something about it here. The things I say in this post mostly apply to Windows XP as well.

In theory, a 32-bit operating system should be able to support 232 bytes = 4GB memory. Thus the first reaction usually is that the memory chips or with the mainboard has a hardware defect. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Vista can indeed address 4GB of memory. However, the maximum amount of RAM that can be used by the system and applications is 3.12 GB.

The cause for this is the so-called memory-mapped I/O (MMIO). Some devices need a dedicated space in memory. A typical example is a video card that utilizes the system memory. Now, you might object that your video card has its own memory and you didn’t install any additional devices that could occupy so much RAM.

Well, for compatibility reasons Vista reserves memory for devices even if they don’t exist in your computer. That means that if you have 4GB RAM in your computer and Vista displays only 3.12 GB available memory, about 1GB is indeed not used by the OS. You might as well remove it. That is quite strange, isn’t it? I am not a system programmer, but for me that seems to be a design error, probably one that is very old.

There is a KB article about this issue which offers a “workaround” though. All you have to do is to install Vista x64 instead of Vista x86. Vista’s 64-bit edition is indeed capable of handling more memory. Note that it is not possible to upgrade Vista x86 to Vista x64. That’s why I find it somehow funny that they sell this solution as a workaround. I will post some articles about the Vista x86 vs. Vista x64 issue very soon. So if you think of going this route, you might as well wait some more days before you make up your mind. In the meantime you can read a former article about the Vista x86 vs. Vista x64 issue.

3GB4gb You might think that Microsoft found an even better workaround, though. It is Service Pack 1. I have read about this before, but today I tried it myself. I installed Vista on a brand new HP PC with 4GB RAM. As expected Vista’s System Properties only displayed about 3 GB RAM. After I installed SP1, the amount of RAM was increased as if by a miracle (see screenshots) to 4GB. You might think that Microsoft corrected this design error, but unfortunately that is not the case.

All they did is to change what is displayed in the System Properties. I guess this problem kept the support personal of PC vendors around the globe busy. And since RAM is getting cheaper every day, the situation would have become worse soon. So Microsoft decided to solve this issue the easy way. System Properties and also the Welcome Center, which is the first place you go to check the amount of memory, simply displays 4GB and so everyone is happy now.

3gb_msinfo32 4gb_msinfo32 The only problem is that those who are unaware of Vista’s 3.12 GB limit just wasted their money. If you really want to know how much memory Vista actually uses, you have to use Vista’s System Information tool. To do so, go to Vista’s Start prompt and type Msinfo32. The new System Information tool in Vista SP1 distinguishes between “Installed Physical Memory (RAM)” and “Total Physical Memory”. The latter one is the amount of memory you can really use, and the first one indicates how much money you just have wasted if you put 4GB in your PC. You can read more about this issue in this KB article.

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42 Comments- Leave a Reply

  1. Vili says:

    Being able to use the full 4GB (or more) of installed physical memory is not just a function of the operating system. Many people think that if you install a 64 bit operating system you will solve the problem, as a 64 bit OS is able to address more than 4GB of memory.
    The chipset used for the motherboard is very important. For example, the Intel 945 chipset supports 4GB of addressable memory, while the Intel 965 supports 8GB of addressable memory. The same holds true about the OS (some people say BIOS) using some of that upper range of that addressable memory for I/O devices.
    Some 32 bit Operating Systems (like Windows Server 2003) are able to use more than 4GB of memory through the use of the /PAE switch in the boot.ini file. However, there’s a catch for this also. From what I’ve read, the CPU has to support that switch.

  2. Ronald says:

    I have known about the limitations just not the reason for it. I unfortunately have a toshiba satellite that is only capable of handling 2gb of RAM so i have not had to worry about it. My mobo is what is limiting me to 2 instead of 3. I know with 64bit you can have more than 8gb RAM and i will wait for your next related article before rushing to the online outlet and buying my new pooter. good stuff Microsoft is into instant gratification.

  3. Leonardo says:

    This issue and the /pae resolution (drivers permiting) goes way back to Windows 2000…

    I ask people: “What do you want more than 2G for?” and the majority cannot answer.

    “3G max, NEED more? go x64.” Is my standard reply, PAE can introduce problems (so I’ve read) with some applications and drivers, and I get paid for “stable”.

  4. Merom says:

    Windows Task Manager (Ctrl-Shift-Esc) can report how much memory Vista actually uses in Performance tab.

  5. [...] Why Windows Vista only sees 3GB memory in a PC with 4GB RAM and how Vista SP1 fools its users Memory is getting cheaper every day. This is one reason why more and more people are equipping their PCs with 4GB RAM or more. Modern desktops often support up to 8GB. So it happens quite often these days that a proud owner of a new a PC wonders why Vista only reports about 3GB RAM even though he bought 4GB. I have been asked this question by several people within the last weeks. Some of them were IT pros, so I thought I should post something about it here. The things I say in this post mostly [...]

  6. Kevin says:

    Please read this for an actual, proper explanation of the 3GB limit with all 32-bit operating systems:

    http://makfu.wordpress.com/2007/08/09/okay-one-more-time/

  7. naphtali says:

    This article will shed more light on the 32bit memory limitations: http://makfu.wordpress.com/2007/08/09/okay-one-more-time/

  8. Bryan says:

    Here’s a better explanation – with graphics.

    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000811.html

  9. [...] tema, el SP1 de Vista. Según el autor del post original, lo ha probado con SP1 y milagrosamente aparece 4Gb, pues nada, problema resuelto, solucionado con [...]

  10. [...] Article librement traduit et modifié de 4sysops.com [...]

  11. Bryan says:

    When I (among others) commented with a link to more thorough explanations of how BIOS memory mapping causes this issue, it was in the hope that you might correct the article. Using phrases like “Vista’s 3.12 GB limit” will lead many to mistakenly beleive the OS is responsible for that ‘lost’ memory, when in fact the OS never even *saw* that memory – it was taken by the BIOS/chipset before the OS ever started loading.

    Please, consider changing phrasing or adding a correction to this article.

  12. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    Vii, you are certainly right. The BIOS has to support 4GB as well. Unfortunately, it is often not enough. Some boards are a bit choosy about the RAM modules they accept. This applies especially to computers of well-known brands. They want to sell their own memory. It is typical for Fujitsu-Siemens computers, for example. As to PAE, the problem is not only the CPU. You might also run into driver problems.

    Ronald, congrats to your Toshiba Satellite. I have one too. :) I am an absolute Toshiba fan when it comes to laptops. I just publish the first article about Vista x64 vs. Vista x86 question.

    Leonardo, the main reason why I need more than 2GB is virtualization. I use VMware Workstation as others use Word. That is, I launch it every day on my desktop. Believe me, you can’t have enough RAM for that.

    Merom, you’re right, Task Manager is the fastest way to check the amount of RAM.

    Kevin, thanks for the link. Good article. By the way, there are 32-bit operating systems that support more than 3GB RAM. So your comment was not 100% “proper”. ;-)

    Naphtali, thanks too. Is Kevin your twin? You posted the same link exactly at the same time.

    Bryan, I do not think that my explanation is not correct and I do think that Vista is responsible for the 3.12GB limit. There are 32-bit operating systems that can utilize the full 4GB, so there are ways to solve this problem. This might have cause compatibility problems. Nevertheless, it is a weakness of Vista x84 to support only 3GB RAM.

  13. Bryan says:

    It’s not correct. I’ve seen Vista32 (pre SP1) do 3.4, 3.5 gb on some 32bit mobos. You can see a screenshot of Vista reporting 3454MB at the codinghorror link I gave earlier. And I have Linux systems ‘seeing’ only 3.3GB in a 4GB system. Different chipset/BIOS will reserve different amounts of RAM, explaining why you got 3.12 but Atwood got 3.452.

    If you can’t trust me (which I do not mind, I am a stranger after all), trust Intel:

    http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/server/sb/cs-010458.htm

    “These requirements may reduce the addressable memory space available to and reported by the Operating System. These memory ranges, while unavailable to the OS, are still being utilized by subsystems such as I/O, PCI Express and Integrated Graphics and are critical to the proper functioning of the PC.”

    Or here: ftp://download.intel.com/support/motherboards/server/sb/ta71902.pdf

    Substantially the same quote, but this time with the graphic Atwood used, and a note that this issue isn’t Intel-only; non-Intel chipsets do this too, because it is a PC standard. Dating back all the way to the first x86 motherboards in fact – remember the old DOS HIMEM tricks we had to play?

    Even MS documents this in the same KB929605 article that you linked:

    “When the physical RAM that is installed on a computer equals the address space that is supported by the chipset, the total system memory that is available to the operating system is always less than the physical RAM that is installed. For example, consider a computer that has an Intel 975X chipset that supports 8 GB of address space. If you install 8 GB of RAM, the system memory that is available to the operating system will be reduced by the PCI configuration requirements. In this scenario, PCI configuration requirements reduce the memory that is available to the operating system by an amount that is between approximately 200 MB and approximately 1 GB. The reduction depends on the configuration.”

    Sun documents this as well: http://ch.sun.com/sunnews/newsletter/bulletin/2005/bulletin6.html

    If you Google “linux 32bit 4GB” you will find many examples of the same situation in that OS. No doubt, same goes for BSD, Apple, etc.

    If your BIOS has a setting for ‘memory hole’ you might try setting that to zero, and rebooting Vista, to see the change. Also, setting AGP aperture to a smaller value can return some memory to the OS.

    So, I repeat – Vista would give you 4GB. If the motherboard would give it to Vista, that is!

  14. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    Bryan, I am quite aware of the fact that this is a BIOS-related problem. However, the KB article, I linked to Microsoft says: “The reduction in available system memory depends on the devices that are installed in the computer. However, to avoid potential driver compatibility issues, the 32-bit versions of Windows Vista limit the total available memory to 3.12 GB.”

    Well, Microsoft should know about the limits of Vista, right? I don’t know if screenshots prove anything. How do you know that Vista displays the amount of memory correctly it actually uses?
    So again, I don’t know what to change in my article.

  15. David says:

    Well I have Vista x64 with 4GB of ram and the OS says 4GB, the motherboard says 4GB, but in reality total physical memory is 3.25GB.

    I have been searching for a fix to this issue for ages and i thought SP1 had addressed it until i read this artical and checked.

    1. I pretty p*&^$#$#%6 at microsoft right now as that a pretty low down dirty trick.

    2. To chip in to the argument, its probably the MOBO reserving the memory for some 32bit device in my system.
    However (any assistance would be greatly appreciated)
    I have all less than 6 months old [Dual core - WD sata2 HDD - ATI2600pro - Kingston memory 667 - Samsung DVDRW Sata - P35 ICH9 mobo] none of these should be 32bit devices!

    Flicking throught the system info, there is a floppy controller active on IRQ 6 DMA channel 2, which doesnt make any sense to me as I have no floppy installed.

    The whole point being x64 still doesnt mean 4GB ram, as there are still deeper underlying issues.

  16. Bryan says:

    I think that we are facing two issues here.

    First, that article which says Vista is limited to 3.12 is probably wrong. I submitted feedback to that article asking them to be more explicit, because as I say, I have seen it showing more than 3.12 (by the exact same methods the article says to use, one of which brngs up the dialog Atwood screenshotted). Me and Atwood are not the only ones; lots of people have documented it showing numbers higher than 3.12.

    Second, your article makes it seem like this is a Vista-only problem. In comments you say other OS’s do not have the problem – but they do, as I demonstrated. Can you name which exact OS that really does get 4GB on one of the motherboards which reserve memory in BIOS and never show it to the OS?

  17. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    Bryan, let me know if Microsoft changes this KB article. If they do, I will certainly change mine, too.

    An OS which can use the full 4GB is Windows Server 2003 Enterprise, for example. The trick is called memory remapping. A good explanation of how it works can be found here.

    And this article discusses memory remapping with regards to different Windows systems.

    I have never claimed that it is a Vista-only issue. In the beginning I said that Windows XP has the same problem. Windows Server 2003 Standard isn’t better.

  18. Ryan says:

    I’ve been reading a lot about this issue recently and would like something clarified.

    When using Vista 64-bit, the memory hole still exists for backwards compatibility, correct? In other words, installing 2x2GB of memory and using Vista 64-bit will only provide roughly 3.0-3.5GB of available memory assuming memory hole remapping has not been turned on, right? This is the impression I’ve received after much reading, but I’m having trouble finding an article that comes right out and says this.

    Now with memory hole remapping turned on AND using a 64-bit version of Windows, you should be able to use all 4GB of memory, correct? I’ve also heard from an article that’s roughly 1 year old that memory hole remapping frequnetly causes system crashes. Is this still an issue? If this has been fixed recently, would you recommend flashing to a newer BIOS to avoid this problem on an older motherboard?

    Thanks for the feedback guys. I see tons of people advising others to just upgrade to Vista 64-bit to see all 4GB, but my reading has suggested that this won’t fix anything unless it’s also accompanied by memory hole remapping.

  19. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    Ryan, you are right. If you want to use 4GB, you have to enable memory remapping. 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems don’t differ here. Read this workaround to learn more about the requirements to use 4GB with Vista. I have no experience with memory remapping and Vista x64. Since more and more people run Vista x64 now because they need 4GB, the probability that you will run into problems is decreasing every day.

  20. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    David, did you check your BIOS setup if your board supports memory remapping?

  21. Ryan says:

    Here’s the article I was referring to, in case anyone is interested. It’s a year old so I’m hoping memory hole remapping has become more stable than he implies: http://www.dansdata.com/askdan00015.htm

  22. David says:

    Indeed I have and while my chipset supports memory remapping in theory, as it is new (P35) in reality the company whom made the board did think to include it as a bios option (lastest bios). Therefore I am stuck and have given up.
    Maybe I will just send a nasty email to board manufacturer!
    So while this is annoying, 4GB or not I will stick with Vista 64 which (this may be controversal) on my system at least, benchmarked against xpsp2/32, is now up to 70% faster in some areas.
    To finish, Im in on the side of its all Motherboard critical, once that issues sorted the rest is mathmatical, i.e. follow OS guidelines, 32bitOS you not getting 4GB unless its a special one and your investing time to play with it.

  23. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    David, what is the name of the manufacturer of your board? Sending them an email might indeed be helpful. The more complaints they get the earlier they will offer a BIOS update that supports memory remapping.

    Ryan, thanks for the link. That’s really a comprehensive article about this topic.

  24. [...] memory that now "fills the hole". Here’s two articles that might help you understand: Article 1 Article 2 There’s really not many situations that would result in more than 3GB of memory being [...]

  25. alex says:

    I have Vista Ultimate x64 and SP1 but my computer still says i have exactly 3gb of physical RAM installed while i actually have 6gb (1gbx2 2gbx2) installed in the four slots on my motherboard what should i do?

  26. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    Alex, it seems you have a hardware problem. Maybe some of your memory modules are broken or your motherboard can’t use them. I would remove the modules one by one to figure out which of them work. You should also enable memory remapping in the BIOS.

  27. Ryan H says:

    PAE (Physical Address Extension) is a hack Intel came up with to address the increasing memory needs of customers using their platforms until they could push their first (debatably failed) 64-bit platform out (i.e Itanium). PAE extends the the address space form 32-bits to 36-bits at the expense of system performance.

    The problem is drivers that aren’t specifically programmed to be aware of PAE can become unstable if an address they need happens to be paged out to an address in the extra 4-bits of address space. MS decided in XP SP2 that PAE would be handicapped to get around these stability issues (it still has to be on for hardware DEP to function the kernel just doesn’t allow programs to access the extra space) because of the driver stability problems. Don’t blame MS for this problem, blame the sloppy driver developers.

  28. Kihwan Kim says:

    Thanks for useful information. It helped me alot!

  29. Bryan says:

    Mark Russinovich has put together some interesting information on the issue:

    http://blogs.technet.com/markrussinovich/archive/2008/07/21/3092070.aspx

  30. Alex Sheppard-Godwin says:

    When Vista 32bit or any other 32bit OS does support 4GB or more of RAM it will undoubtedly result in a drop in performance.
    METAPHORE
    Most of my metaphores serve to confuse so here you go – get confused – It’s like owning a Pool table in an apartment that is big enough for a pool table. Then adding a loft extension and suggesting you can now own a snooker table. Indeed if you chop the snooker table in half and put half of it in the loft you can have it or you could fill the room with it and leave no space to wander round and take your shot. However its not so hard to stick a cushion down the cut edges and make two smaller tables. Now you can use your snooker table for two games of pool.
    IN THE MACHINE
    The fact is a 32bit OS can only access 4 GB of memory space. Included in this space is everything. When you read some data from the disc it gets stored in a space with an address – that address is in the list of 4billion available addresses. The same thing is true if you have a 512mb graphics card 512million of those addresses must be taken out of your RAM addresses and reserved just to get data onto the screen. Every time you press a key on your keyboard, receive some data over the network, send an image over USB to your printer or make a sound that information is transferred to and from the devices via those addressed locations. The Chipset is responsible for organising this mapping. It maps the physical addresses into a virtual 4GB space.
    TOO CLEVER TO TRY
    It could try and be clever and say when I want to display stuff on the screen map it to the graphics card and when I want my app to use it map it to my RAM chips. If the app that is in that RAM area wants to write to the screen you can see life will become very tricky and the whole process to continue the metaphor would involve running up the stairs and launching the balls at the same velocity on the other half of the table.
    DUAL CHANNEL PAYBACK
    However there is an upside – you probably haven’t wasted you cache on that extra memory. The reason for this is that if you install pairs e.g. 2x2gb of the same type the system can access both pairs simultaneously double the speed memory can be accessed. If you got to 4 GB with 1 x 2 GB and 1 x 1 GB then you probably won’t see in improvement and dual channel memory access can’t be enabled across that 1 x 2 GB chip. The PTA switches try to map the 32bit code in a 36bit address space because it’s really 64bit hardware.
    VMWARE ALL YOUR MEMORY IN BITE SIZES
    A last resort could involve running something like 64bot Linux with 64bit VMware host. This will allow multiple 32bit Virtual machines and get you all of your memory. Of course at a cost of multiple OS’s running and hardware abstraction that means you won’t get the best out of your cool kit.
    THE EXCEPTION TO PROVE THE RULE
    Lastly more advanced versions of applications like SQL server are written to optimised use of those 32/36 bit memory extensions. But there are very few applications that have gone to the effort to make that work.
    DISCLAIMER
    I have written this based on my very fuzzy memory but I think it describes why you should stop waiting for a 32bit OS to use all 4 GB or more of your RAM. If you want to find out more you should look at how Virtual Memory works, and How page faults trigger memory management and what Context switching means.

  31. Andrew says:

    I am just on the verge of buying a new laptop with Vista Business pre-installed.
    I WAS thinking of upgrading the standard 2GB memory to 4GB, but I now know that would be a waste of money.
    But…
    If I only upgrade to 3GB, would Vista then set aside a GB of that, leaving me with just over 2GB usable?
    If that were the case, perhaps I would be better off buying 4Gb – 1 for Vista and 3 for me.

  32. Severn says:

    err. anyone heard of windows 2000?

    the server version (32bit thankyou very much) had a little thing called 36bit memory addressing. voila!!! we have 128GB of ram to play with

    now, microsoft; get coding and give me more than 3.5GB ram, or give me decent support for X64 windows xp/vista.

  33. Akshay says:

    Hi guys..
    i m using windows vista 64 bit service pack 1 . i installed 4 gb of ram but its showing same as 3.12gb . So its not the matter of 32 bit or 64 bit , moreover service pack 1 didnt able to slove this problem. So if u guys a have any idea pls post or mail me at aks7sach@rediffmail.com

  34. [...] permalink Vista 32bit conveniently fools users by displaying that it can use 4GB of installed RAM in the system properties, whereas it cant use use more than 3GB to find it out, go to msinfo32 Total physical memory is the one OS actually uses see for urself My computer –> Properties Msinfo32 Source: 4sysops – Why Windows Vista only sees 3GB memory in a PC with 4GB RAM and how Vista SP1 fools its us… [...]

  35. [...] nu stia sa foloseasca decat 3,2 GB din cei 4 GB pe care ii aveam desi cu SP1 Microsoft incerca sa musamalizeze chestiunea. Asa ca am decis sa incerc si eu marea cu degetul.E de notat ca daca ai o versiune [...]

  36. Sri says:

    Hi Guys,

    I’m also having the same problem. I installed 4GB, It is perfectly showingin BIOS. But When it comes to Vista, it is using only 3GB. I’m using 32bit OS.
    Any suggestion is appreciated..

    thanks.

  37. leek says:

    Without going into BIOS or Windows issues (which others have addressed), I’d like to point out that:

    - On some motherboards it may be better to use 4 GB instead of 2 GB or 3 GB because of memory interleaving improving performance. I have a SuperMicro MB that supports 4 1 GB DDR2 modules, and prefers them in pairs for interleaving. So even if I don’t use 4 GB, I get improved performance by installing DIMMs in pairs.

  38. Carlos says:

    I think this post is kinda old, but I am running Windows 7 Beta 64bit and I am only seeing 3gb of ram used. It does say that I have 4, but I tried to run virtual PC and it said I did not have enough. I have 4gb. System was using 2gb and vm was set for 1gb????????????

    I am updating my bios right now, but I will repost if thatfixes it. I think that would do it. I can see how all these factors, chipset, bios, OS, 32 vs 64 would have an impact on the amount of memory a system can address, but I do not think it is one single thing that does it.

  39. Does the BIOs see 4GB RAM? Perhaps one of your modules is defect.

  40. rommee says:

    im using 64bit win7, but some software does not support to 64bit, so now i want to install 32 bit – win7 , it can be upload from my original window cd or i have to purchase new win cd

  41. Alex Barringer says:

    I will chime in again in regards as to why you can see various amounts of RAM in Vista x86 if you have 4 GB RAM installed. It all comes down to what is on your bus lines, how much space each of these items take up in RAM, whether or not they are disabled and removed from the memory map. There is also a trick that can be used on some newer machines that if you have say 6 GB installed with Vista x86 installed, you can get into BIOS and set the video memory (for on-board video graphics chip-sets, like the ATI HD 3200) to appear above the 4 GB RAM boundary but yet, the Vista x86 driver still can see the memory and use it, there are a couple of other items where you can do this too.

    This ability stems back from the old days in the 1980s when there was a push to access more memory and how to go about it, go flat memory model (aka expanded memory) or go paged memory (extended memory), Lotus/Intel/Microsoft (LIN for short) settled on extended memory because of the way in which memory was accessed and could be used on all Intel based chips without too much of a hassle.

    Technically, the reason why Vista x86 cannot see the full 4 GB of RAM you see, is that it’s looking at the hardware and the core of it’s own OS and subtracting out that from the “user mode” RAM, in other words what you can use or rather what external applications can use in which you in return use them.

    What is keeping Vista x86 from seeing past the 4 GB RAM barrier despite running on a 64-bit machine and having more than 4 GB RAM installed? Simple, it’s a Microsoft licensing issue, that’s all.

    Vista is the little brother of the Windows 2008, you might notice you get updates for Windows 2008 / Vista from Windows Update, essentially they’re the same OS except the licensing grants you a kernel can use /PAE that can see past 4 GB RAM (only in some cases). Microsoft will say that you can only use 4 GB RAM but that’s not entirely true, as I have machines running 2008 and displays close to 64 GB RAM, uses up to 64 GB of RAM in the machine.

    The reason why Vista is so hard to understand about the complex coding used in the kernel, is that you would need to sit down with the team at Microsoft to get the full details. In short, they didn’t have a clear picture of what people wanted out of their operating system because they went with surveys that were way too vanilla and didn’t have slots for explaining how it was to work. Their surveys were pointed for their employees rather than the consumers which was the wrong thing to do.

    Technically, the way in which Vista x86 shows the memory is in fact correct, it’s showing you how much memory you can actually use, it says, “Memory Free”, although, I would have said out of x GB RAM, then list what is sitting in the RAM that you cannot access, just to make people more happy.

    Most applications in the Windows 2k, XP, and Vista don’t use more than 2 GB for anyone application unless you are doing video editing, etc., for example games.

    For this very reason, the speed of your processor, the speed of your RAM and it’s timings become very important if you are gaming because you cannot access much RAM and to minimize that lag seen in many of today’s games they have to get creative, that includes doing streaming textures. With the advent of better GP-GPU performance and being programmable these days, that will take the major hurdles for your machine and allow you a comfortable range of detail while not bogging your system down, even if you can see only up to 2 GB RAM but have 4 GB installed.

    As far as the software not being compatible with Windows Vista or 7 x64, that may not be the issue. You might be trying to use a really old application that uses 16-bit calls which is been dropped in Windows 7 and Vista, both on the 32 and 64 bit versions. If you need
    that type of compatibility, there are applications that emulate that hardware setup and allow you to use those apps on the newer OSes.

    By default, most applications are not aware of what operating system they are running on nor what edition type 32 or 64-bit very few check the Microsoft strings for what it’s sitting on.

    If all else fails, if it worked on Windows XP 32-bit try using the Windows Compatibility Modem (WCM for short) on Windows 7, set it for the application you are trying to run. It’s one of those, right click on the icon on the desktop or in the Program Files off of the Start menu button, you go to Properties. It’s in there that you can change the compatibility. If you need a specific set of instructions I can put that out there for you or Michael can do so as well.

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