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For compatibility reasons, we need to run Windows 7 32 bit, not 64 bit. We want to buy at least i5 level machines (or i7). For some reason, it seems like i3 machines generally come with 32 bit windows 7, but i5 or i7 machines come with the 64 bit flavor.

Is there a reason for this, or can you point me toward some off-the-shelf machines (do not want to build these)?

The other possibility is if there is a way to use the 64 bit key on the side of the machine with a 32 bit copy of windows 7 (assuming that's ok to do)?

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closed as off topic by Linker3000, Journeyman Geek, Not Kyle stop stalking me, Nifle, studiohack May 19 '11 at 20:55

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64 bit works fine unless you need to run 16 bit apps - you might have luck running these in XP mode, or a VM, or dosbox. I'd point out though, you're asking for a shopping suggestion, and those are off topic. – Journeyman Geek May 19 '11 at 12:59
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Since Windows 7 64-bit key and 32-bit key ARE interchangeable. This is true for both MSDN subscription and for OEM licences. I haven't tried retail package.

P.S. I live in Europe. I cannot vouch that situation is same in other regions, but I would assume it is.

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The licenes are interchangeable, but the OEM and System Builder media usually contain only one version (32 or 64) of Windows, in contrast to retail media wich contains both. – Tobias Plutat May 19 '11 at 10:59
@TobiasPlutat. The retail media do not contain both architectures. You may receive two disks (x86 and x64), but they are exactly the same as the MSDN versions. – kinokijuf Jan 11 '14 at 19:55

There is a reason for this - I3, I5 and I7 are all incredibly powerful, but I3 is considered the lower / entry level and is usually shipped with 2, 3 or 4 gb of memory (on 4GB, some goes to waste). Where as Core I5/I7 is considered powerful and usually a minimum of 4GB is sold.

However, it all depends on the manufacturer and there is no one answer fits all.

As for if you can use the key with a different edition, the answer is yes if you get the media, but you may want to look at other solutions such as XP Mode or virtualisation.

When it comes down to it, very few applications will not run on x64, with the exception of VERY old applications.

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