In the world of personal computers, 64-bit versions of Windows are quickly becoming the standard. Many server applications require a 64-bit operating system, while most desktop applications are still 32-bit.
The most visible advantage of a 64-bit operating system (OS) is that it can access a much larger amount of system memory than a 32-bit OS. In practical terms, a 32-bit Windows OS can use 3 to 3.5 gigabytes of memory out of a total of 4 GB installed while a 64-bit OS can use 192 GB; that’s a substantial and beneficial improvement. This means you can run larger applications, run more applications simultaneously and more efficiently use system resources. In addition, Microsoft has introduced security enhancements into the 64-bit versions of Windows, making computers less vulnerable to attack.
Most 64-bit operating systems will run 32-bit applications with no problems because they contain both 32- and 64-bit versions of OS files. On a Windows system, you can find the 32-bit OS files in the “C:\Windows\SysWOW64” folder and the 64-bit versions in the “C:\Windows\System32” folder. Yes, that looks backwards and counterintuitive, but it is correct. You will also see that 64-bit applications install to the “C:\Program Files” folder, while 32-bit applications install to “C:\Program Files (x86).”
How does Dynamics GP 2010 fit into the world of 64-bit operating systems?
First of all, Dynamics GP is a 32-bit application. Even on a 64-bit OS, GP will run just as it would on a 32-bit OS, with the exception of where it installs and what OS files are needed. When you install GP on a 64-bit OS, it will install to “C:\Program Files (x86)” by default. If you want to install GP to another drive, you should preserve the “X:\Program Files (x86)” nomenclature, where “X” is the drive letter, to keep 64-bit and 32-bit applications segregated.
You will also notice the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) Data Source Name (DSN) created during the GP installation, if you used the default option, is not displayed when you look at the ODBC control panel. This is because there is a separate 32-bit ODBC administration console at “C:\Windows\SysWOW64\odbcad32.exe.” I like to create a shortcut to this application on the desktop for quick access when I’m testing. The 64-bit vs. 32-bit ODBC configuration has been one of the most confusing issues users have experienced when installing GP on a 64-bit OS.
You should also note a compatibility issue between GP 2010 and the 64-bit version of Microsoft Outlook. If you want to use the email functionality of GP, you must install the 32-bit version of Office. This means all of your other Office applications will be 32-bit as well. It’s an unfortunate limitation due to the way GP interfaces with Outlook.
One final note related to GP on a 64-bit OS: Microsoft FRx is not supported on 64-bit systems, and Microsoft has ended development of this product. FRx is classified as “end of life” and will never be officially compatible with 64-bit operating systems. The replacement product is Management Reporter, which is compatible with 64-bit systems and has native 64-bit components. During your next hardware replacement cycle, you most likely will be purchasing systems running a 64-bit version of Windows, so be prepared to migrate to Management Reporter.
In general, Dynamics GP 2010 installs and functions well on 64-bit versions of Windows without any major issues, but be aware of the caveats related to the ODBC DSN, Microsoft Outlook and FRx.
For additional reading on 64-bit Windows, you can read stories on the Windows website about 64-bit quirks and frequently asked questions. For more information, contact BKD’s Microsoft Dynamics GP support center at firstname.lastname@example.org.