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Microsoft: 64-Bit Office 2010 Not Ready

Are you thinking about deploying the 64-bit version of Office 2010? If so, Microsoft wants you to think again.

Microsoft's newest productivity suite, slated for public release as early as May 12, will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions -- a first for the Office product line. The advantage of tapping into 64-bit metal includes the ability to handle files that require greater memory support, as well as to run more programs concurrently.

However, Microsoft explained late last month that its 64-bit Office 2010 isn't really ready for prime time after all.

More specifically, the add-ins, controls and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming code that need to be compatible with 64-bit Office 2010 still need to be updated, Microsoft explained in a blog. Consequently, Microsoft is recommending that Office 2010 users install the 32-bit version of the program, even when using a 64-bit Windows operating system with the productivity suite.

The 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Office 2010 are "largely indistinguishable" except for memory capacity, according to Ted Way, a Microsoft program manager for product lifecycle and engineering excellence.

"The extra memory capacity comes at the cost of some compatibility with existing extensions to Office, such as 32-bit versions of ActiveX Controls and some third-party add-ins, in addition to 32-bit versions of programs that interface directly with Office," Way wrote in the blog. "New versions of these extensions will need to be obtained, and it will take some time for 64-bit compatible extensions to be made available."

Way explained that 32-bit Office 2010 can handle files that soak up about 4GB of memory. When the 64-bit version is ready, Office 2010 will be able to access about 17 billion GB of memory, he added.

Eventually, Microsoft expects the 64-bit version of Office to be widely used. For now, the install program (setup.exe) defaults to the 32-bit version, which will run on a 64-bit operating system. Users who really want to run the 64-bit version can do so by opening a folder on the CD-ROM containing the executable install file.

Trying to run both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Office 2010 on the same machine is not supported, Way said. In addition, the install program will block the installation of the 64-bit version if it finds certain 32-bit Office apps already installed, such as Outlook. However, some 32-bit products are on Microsoft's "allowed list," permitting the installation of Office 2010 64-bit to proceed. Allowed-list products include Expression Web Designer, Microsoft Office Web components and the VBA 6.4 software development kit, Way said.

VBA will work with the 64-bit version of Office 2010, but developers need to do a little tweaking of the external interfaces, according to Danny Khen of Microsoft, commenting in the blog. Developers will have to update the Declare statements of VBA code that has "handles/pointers as arguments," Khen explained. Microsoft released a tool called the "Microsoft Office 2010 Code Compatibility Inspector" to help automate the update process, as described in this blog. There also are some free tools to help with migration to Office 2010.

Microsoft plans to release a new version of VBA, version 7, with the release of the 64-bit version of Office 2010, according to a Microsoft white paper. VBA 7 will work with both the 32-bit and 64-bit version of Office 2010. However, developers using the 64-bit version of Office 2010 still must update the APIs to get the VBA 7 code to work, or use the Code Compatibility Inspector tool to fix those APIs.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments

Fri, Apr 2, 2010 AXS Peter Hong Kong

MS had delayed a lot of things on 64-bit, such as Windows Live applications, Silverlights and now VBA (I guess that's why many add-ons are incompatible with 64-bit). The further on 32-bit they go, the more code they have to be converted to 64-bit.

Wed, Mar 24, 2010 Ranj uk

No good at all for for MS Excel 2010 Power Pivot: self service BI.

Mon, Mar 22, 2010 Dr.R. Clavan Salem, Kazakhstan

Use OpenOffice! Works like a charm and it's free.

Fri, Mar 19, 2010 JB Redmond, WA

17 billon GB? Ummm...no.

Fri, Mar 19, 2010 Matt Concord, CA

So, not quite there, eh? It's only 62- or 63-bits right now...

Fri, Mar 19, 2010 Jim

Lets hope the 64 bit version gets released soon - Congress will then be able to fit each Bill into a single file.

Fri, Mar 19, 2010 OfNoConsequence

So as I read this article, it's not that Office 2010 64bit isn't ready, it's all the add-ons and plugings (and VBA) that's not ready. This is just like why 32bit web browsers still hang around, because all the plugins (flash being a prime example) haven't migrated to 64bit. Yeah, that makes sense. The way I see it, it should be "release 2010 in 64bit and make the plugin folks start coming out of the stone age by providing 64bit support as well."

Fri, Mar 19, 2010

Question is, will VBA 7 be available for other products to proceed to 64bit? Or is it only availabe for Office 2010? This is a big hanging point for many software packages going to 64bit.

Thu, Mar 18, 2010 Jerry Adams

Why am I not surprised? Could it be Windows XP 64, Vista 64, Server 2008 64, even Win 7 64. And I will not mention PhotoShop 64, Internet Explorer 8 64, and Adobe Flash 64.

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