What’s in My System?

Dear Computer Lady,

How do I find out what computer platform I’m using? I’m trying to install Windows Installer 4.5 and I need this info so I can decide which download would be most appropriate for my system. The options I’m given are as follows:

For Windows Vista, Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008:
x86 Platform, x64 Platform, or IA64 Platform

I know that I have a 32-bit Windows Vista HP Desktop but I don’t see anything else on System Info screen that makes reference to anything being x86, x64, or IA64.

Please help! Thanks, Kim


Dear Kim,

All the computer specifications can be confusing, I know because I teach the history of computer hardware during my computer repair classes.

Before I address your question, I want to let the readers know how they can check to see what their computer is running.

In Windows Vista, click on the “Start Orb” in the lower, left hand corner of your desktop, and then right-click on “Computer”.

In the context menu that appears, click on “Properties”.

A window will open with your system information.

The first section will tell you what version of Windows you are running.

The second section will tell you your computer manufacturer and model, the type of processor, the amount of RAM and the type of system (if you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system).

It sounds like you have accessed this page on your computer to learn what you already know about your system.

The last bit of information that you need to provide was a little bit puzzling to me, but after a bit of research, I learned that an x86 platform refers to any computer with 32-bit hardware (which you probably have since you are running a 32-bit operating system), a x64 platform is any computer with 64-bit hardware and the last platform was a bit harder to understand, but I don’t think that it applies to your computer.

The IA64 platform appears to be processors that are very expensive (thousands of dollars) and only sold in very high end business servers.


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