Microsoft to require 64-bit Windows 10 builds for OEMs with version 2004

Surface Book 2 13-inch and 15-inch
Surface Book 2 13-inch and 15-inch (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is starting to phase out 32-bit versions of Windows 10.
  • Starting with version 2004, PC makers will only be able to use 64-bit versions of Windows 10 on new systems.
  • 32-bit Windows 10 builds will remain available for individual users.

Microsoft is starting the process of slowly phasing out 32-bit Windows. In the company's latest minimum hardware requirements for Windows, it says that 32-bit builds of Windows 10 will no longer be provided to PC manufacturers for new systems. Going forward, all new systems will have to use 64-bit versions of Windows 10 (via Neowin)

"Beginning with Windows 10, version 2004, all new Windows 10 systems will be required to use 64-bit builds and Microsoft will no longer release 32-bit builds for OEM distribution," Microsoft said in its updated list of minimum hardware requirements (opens in new tab). "This does not impact 32-bit customer systems that are manufactured with earlier versions of Windows 10; Microsoft remains committed to providing feature and security updates on these devices, including continued 32-bit media availability in non-OEM channels to support various upgrade installation scenarios."

Because this only applies to OEM systems, people will still be able to get their hands on updates and 32-bit versions of Windows 10. However, as new systems hit the market with 64-bit Windows 10 as the only option, we should see 32-bit systems gradually fade away as they're replaced or retired.

The impact is unlikely to be noticed by anyone buying a new PC today. Modern PCs have been using 64-bit CPUs for some time, so there's no reason for most people to need a 32-bit copy.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • I've always been amazed that they're still doing 32-bit versions of the OS. Support for 32-bit applications makes sense, since plenty of applications are 32-bit and no reason to change. But does anyone make 32-bit x86 processors anymore? For IoT ARM chips or something I guess, but for the consumer OS why go out of your way to keep supporting something so ancient. Edit: Unless there's some super super weird edge case of ancient business software that can't run on 64-bit windows even with 32-bit support. But that seems like an issue for the software user to figure out via emulation or virtualization or something.
  • It was kept around for those $200 tablets and laptops. Of course there's a reason to change. There's no need for 32-Bit apps on x86 laptops. Although Microsoft's own OneDrive, comes with Windows 10 64-Bit, is still only 32-bit so how knows. Although thy cannot cut off Windows 10 32-Bit thousands of PCs require 32-Bit Windows Updates. My concern, this will hurt Windows on ARM. Although Windows developers are significantly slower than Mac OS developers. So many 32-bit only apps when they could've all been ported to 64-bit years ago.
  • Actually a lot of applications are still 32-bit, so support for 32-bit still needs to be maintained, at least for a while anyway. ARM processors are 64-bit now so it won't cause any problems.
  • I think he means arm may be hurt a bit because 32bit apps are emulated on ARM, not 64bit. So as 32 bit x86 fades away - so may the drive to support ARM unless app developers natively compile
  • Strange world to cut off 32-Bit x86 when Windows on ARM only works with 32-Bit x86 aps (plus ARM64).
  • They're only cutting off the 32-bit Windows OS, not the 32-bit apps, which work perfectly fine on ALL 64-bit x86 chips under Windows 10. Getting a 32-bit OS in 2020 is just limiting yourself to 4GB of RAM and not having the ability to run many AAA games, major productivity software, etc.
  • "32-bit Windows 10 builds will remain available for individual users." For now.
  • It should be 128bit now. Microsoft still messing around with 16bit windows 10x fronting as 64.
  • 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 That made me chuckle.
  • They should remove their 4GB RAM while they are at it
  • That is great topic