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I don't think I've seen any answers to this question, but I'm curious as to why, when you have a 64-bit OS installed (ex: Vista x64), IE defaults to the 32-bit version? Are there drawbacks to using the x64 version of IE (IE8, specifically)?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

I guess it's becoming less of an issue these days, but initially there were no plugins that supported native 64-bit browsers (so you couldn't see Flash animations in 64-bit IE, for example.) So that's most likely why 32-bit is default.

Edit: I haven't actually tested a native 64-bit browser for a while, but since Adobe has said they're working on a native 64-bit player for a year now I assumed it must be out, but that might not be the case. Does anyone know?

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There still is no Silverlight plugin for 64 bit IE either – sylvanaar Oct 8 '09 at 17:18
This was definitely the case in the PDC release where the 64-bit IE was default. Darn near nothing worked. – tsilb Oct 8 '09 at 17:24

It's for compatibility for add-ons. Most add-ons do not have 64-bit equivalents, or users do not realize they need a 64-bit version of a plugin. Since more laptops are shipping with 64-bit OS's, to keep compatibility issues to a minimum, 32-bit IE is considered standard.

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