Re: Windows 7 32 bit or 64 bit

Richard Holloway

I appreciate your response, but you're mistaken and I don't want to leave this hanging in case it impacts others decisions. If you check the Freedom site and search for "Jaws 9", you'll find many references to all of the (then) "new" features designed to work specifically with Vista. At a glance, I counted about 14 references to Vista on the following JAWS 9 page from the Freedom web site:

Among the above JAWS 9 info., it states:

• In Windows Vista, ActiveSync has been replaced by the new Windows Mobile Device Center.
• JAWS 9 is the first screen reader to offer full accessibility with Windows Mobile Device Center found in Windows Vista.
• Both Windows XP users and Windows Vista users will enjoy this improvement in speed and accuracy without missing out on the most powerful screen reading solution in both speech and braille.
• JAWS can be authorized when performing ILM Authorization on a system with Windows Vista® Server.
• Windows Explorer no longer shuts down while in use, and now operates correctly when running JAWS and MAGic together in Windows Vista.
• Windows Vista users will see noticeable improvements in the responsiveness of JAWS when using Eloquence speech synthesizer.

There is more, but I think my point is clear. I cannot locate their specifications for JAWS 9 any longer, but one could probably safely infer from all of the Vista-specific features, this was officially supported, and as a registered user of JAWS 9 on a Vista computer who got a LOT of initial support from Freedom with this configuration a few years back, I can personally assure everyone here that it was supported at the time. Perhaps you were referring to currently supported or recommended configurations? Obviously, JAWS 9 is rather old at this point, but some people don't buy all the upgrades or maintain SMA's and there are plenty of JAWS 9 users still around.

In our case, we ran JAWS 9 under Vista (32 bit) without incident for ages. It will launch and run just fine on that machine still though we typically run JAWS 11. You are correct that there was no 64-bit version of JAWS 9. That was actually my entire point. With JAWS 10 or later, I expect you can do a free "cross-grade" install (for lack of a better term) and move your license from a 32-bit install to a 64-bit one. My personal frustration was that I had to downgrade this computer to 32-bit because, at the time, Freedom was running far behind the curve and there was no 64-bit support as this was PRE-JAWS 10. (Downgrade, as in return a powerful new machine and buy a lesser one, when they had pretty much stopped making 32-bit desktop machines at places like HP.)

Sounds like my experience was not typical. So much the better for many of those here, but this is a glaring example of 32-bit software that won't work on a 64-bit machine, so it should not be assumed that you can upgrade your hardware and OS and drop your old programs in the special folder and it all will run just fine. If you own a JAWS 9 (only) license and you go 64-bit, based on the info I have available, you're going to be buying a JAWS upgrade, and if you have new 64-bit hardware and your old 32-bit machine is gone for whatever reason (maybe it broke, or you paid someone to upgrade it with a new logic board, etc.), you're going to be dead-in-the water, perhaps for a long while as far as JAWS, as you get the right software bought, installed, and running. Once you fix any JAWS issues, you may be turning to embosser/printer driver problems, or anti-virus / anti-malware solutions.

I spent hours with Freedom Scientific on the phone when 64-bit machines came out so this is real world experience, not the theoretical. Backing up a bit, I had numerous face-to-face conversations with Freedom's specialists at the NFB National convention several years ago in Dallas (when 9 was the current release). I told them I was buying a new machine specifically to use for my young daughter with no light perception (so I was't looking for any low-vision needs) and told them we planned to use this machine with JAWS operating on it all the time. We have many computers here (most are Macs and none could be committed to my daughter's needs), so this one new machine was for her exclusive use and needed to work as near to flawlessly with a screen reader and other related equipment needs and possible (braille display and such). I asked them what specifications would be best as far as hardware and OS. The told me that **ANY** current PC and any current PC OS, including Vista (then fairly new as well) was fully supported. How they were so clueless about 64-bit machines when that was nearly all that could be bound on the shelves of Best Buy and Circuit City by this point escapes me entirely.

So we got our new 64-bit Delux-O PC but after numerous attempts to get JAWS 9 to load and work properly and many hours on the phone, they decided there was no way to make this work on a 64-bit machine. At the time, Freedom told me they had "NO PLANS" to support the new 64-bit machines in the future, as if it was some odd-ball thing that would come and go like Michael Jackson's one glitter glove trend. (Please excuse the obscure reference.)

Ultimately the machine was returned and a new 32-bit PC was bought with a corresponding new copy of Vista. It had to be special-ordered from Hewlett-Packard, because they no longer had any 32-bit machines configured as we wanted it available, and there was a chain-reaction of returns of other hardware and software that took many trips, hours, and managers approvals. Avoiding the 15% restocking fee of several thousands of dollars of equipment and software was a battle beyond belief, all this because I relied on what the people at Freedom told me up front. We actually ended up with an additional 64 bit machine along the way because even the people at Circuit City were confused as to which machines had which kinds of processors. (I was sold a second machine as a 32-bit unit, only to learn it was 64-as well so there was yet another returned machine.)

I don't mean to make a huge issue out of this, but it is concerning when a statement like the following is made:

I think it should be pointed out that JAWS 9
doesn't even run on the 32-bit Vista, as it's not supported, therefore is
rather a non-issue.
I have no idea if they support that per se now (do they support several versions back if you have an active SMA now?), but they did when it was current and their site reflects that in at least 14 locations that I quickly found on the one page above. I suspect there are many more as well.

All of this, however, is incidental to my intended point, which is that running 32-bit software on 64-bit machines CAN cause MAJOR problems. I know from experience and I'm trying to make others aware that assuming their 32-bit products will work, can cause a serious situation. If they choose to take informed gambles, so be it. Maybe they'll have great luck. Maybe they are JAWS 9 users and they'll trash their Vista install. Maybe they'll find everything works except they cannot emboss any output, and they're okay with that. Maybe they'll buy a 64-bit machine and unwittingly load older 32-bit virus protection which fails to work properly and they have serious virus issues, or maybe trying to load the anti-virus software corrupts a bunch of data. My intention is to err on the side of caution. Unless / until you have 100% confirmation that a configuration that a system will work as intended, how will you know if you're risking thousands of dollars that will get you a crippled system, and even with exhaustive research up front (as in our case) we wasted scores of hours with technical issues went to war with Circuit City to return unusable hardware, went to considerable expense with various incidental costs along the way.

Sorry for the exhaustive post, but maybe it will save someone some valuable time or some money. I sure do wish I had known back then what I know now about this particular matter.

Great forum, and I appreciate the efforts of all involved who post here.

Best regards.


On Aug 1, 2011, at 9:01 AM, James Homuth wrote:


The problem in this case was not to do with Windows Vista or 7, but rather
that you were running JAWS 9, which didn't support Windows Vista, either 32
or 64-bit. There was no 64-bit version of JAWS 9 to my knowledge, and as was
established earlier in this thread, due to how closely the software
interacts with the OS, such a thing running on a 64-bit system would be no
less than a bad idea. Still, I think it should be pointed out that JAWS 9
doesn't even run on the 32-bit Vista, as it's not supported, therefore is
rather a non-issue.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of Richard Holloway
Sent: July-31-11 12:23 AM
To: The Jaws for Windows support list.
Subject: Re: Windows 7 32 bit or 64 bit

Well, JAWS 9 comes to mind (which absolutely destroyed the OS on our Vista
PC when we bought a 64-bit machine), at least under Vista, as well as most
(if not all) virus protection software.

It can be really hit, or miss... (buyer beware).


On Jul 30, 2011, at 6:00 PM, Steve wrote:


I don't know of any 32-bit programs that won't run on a 64-bit system,
although I suppose there may be some. But, that is what the Programs\x86
folder is for, that's where the 32-bit programs that run in Win 7 or Vista
64-bit editions live.

Jaws is available in either 32 or 64-bit editions. If you have the Jaws
installation DVD, it will recognize which version you need for your system;
if not, just go to the FS site and download the correct version.
Take my advice, I don't use it anyway.

Lansing, MI
----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard Holloway"
To: "The Jaws for Windows support list." <>
Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2011 5:32 PM
Subject: Re: Windows 7 32 bit or 64 bit

32 vs. 64 bit has to do with the way the computer physically
addresses the data; literally 32 or 64 pieces of information at a
time (specifically that many ones or zeros at a time-- that's what a
"bit" is, a one or a zero in binary computing. Multiple bits comprise
a byte. Enough bytes make a "k", then megs, gigs, etc.)

You must run the correct bit OS on the appropriate processor.
Applications vary. You can run some 32 bit applications on some 64 bit
machines which I assume requires some sort of emulation mode by the OS which
may be transparent to the user. 64 bit applications won't work for 32 bit.

JAWS 9 was 32 bit only. At the time that was out, Freedom told me
they had no intention of supporting 64 bit machines in the future.
Once most new machines started going 32 bit, they changed their tune
a bit. (Pun intended.)

I assume current JAWS has a dual installer that works on both? I know
both are currently supported one way or another.

Sent from my iPad
On Jul 30, 2011, at 5:00 PM, "Crystal French"
<> wrote:32

I have Jaws 12, but have reverted to Jaws 11 as 12 was crashing too

I'm afraid I need to think seriously about a new computer.

I'm still with XP Home.

Can someone tell me what would be the major difference between Windows 7
32 bit or 64 bit?


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