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what is difference between Internet Explorer (64-bit) and Internet Explorer on 64bit windows versions?

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One is 64-bit. The other isn't. –  Thomas Aug 16 '13 at 12:09
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Basic 'Internet Explorer' will be the 32-bit application, which will run under a 64-bit environment through the standard 32-bit 'emulation' that is built into 64-bit versions of Windows (Without which no 32-bit program, such as almost all programs made in the last 20 years would run at all).

I don't know if there's any actual differences in the program interface itself, but running a 64-bit version means the program has access to more processing ability and can address more memory, although if IE needs more than 3.2 GB I'd be concerned.

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For IE10, this is not what I read here: "If you manually invoke C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe, that 32bit process will simply launch the 64bit version of iexplore.exe [...]" However, it seems it does affect the content rendering processes, that can either run in 64 or 32 bit on 64 bit systems, which then affect addons etc. –  Arjan Aug 16 '13 at 8:11
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In addition to @tjennings' answer, one major difference is that 32-bit native code doesn't run in a 64-bit instance of Internet Explorer, due to the lack of in-process thunking in Windows (see also thunk) and the fact that for example MSIE extensions execute within the MSIE process. Quoting Q&A: 64-Bit Internet Explorer on the (MSDN) IE Internals blog from back in mid-2009 (emphasis mine):

Q: Why? What does not work properly with 64bit IE?

A: Browser addons, including BHOs, Toolbars, and ActiveX controls, must generally be the same bitness as IE itself. So, if you are running a 64bit version of IE, any site that uses, say, Adobe Flash, isn't going to work until you install the 64bit version of the addon. Sadly, almost no browser addons are currently available in 64bit versions, although that's somewhat likely to change in the future as 64bit Windows becomes more prevalent.

The software availability situation has likely improved in the years since that blog post was written, but the technical reason why it is a problem in the first place remains.

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For IE10, it seems there's a difference in a so-called manager process (I guess that's the browser) and content processes (I guess those are the tabs). The first seems to always be running in 64 bit on 64 bit systems; see here. –  Arjan Aug 16 '13 at 8:13
    
Also be aware that at least in IE9, the 64bit version doesn't run with the new javascript engine etc, så it's no faster than IE8: zdnet.com/blog/networking/… –  Holger Aug 16 '13 at 10:48
    
@Holger do IE10/11 have the same limitation in 64bit mode? –  Dan Neely Aug 16 '13 at 14:01
    
@DanNeely I'm not sure, I haven't found anything on it –  Holger Aug 16 '13 at 16:19
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