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Considerations for 64-bit editions of Office 2013

(Source: Microsoft TechNet)

Updated: July 23, 2013

Summary: Explains the benefits and drawbacks of deploying 64-bit Office, and why we recommend the 32-bit version of Office 2013 for most users.

Applies to:  Office 2013 | Office 365 ProPlus 

Audience: IT Professionals

As more and more personal computers run 64-bit versions of Windows, it’s tempting to deploy the 64-bit version of Office 2013 to match. One benefit is that 64-bit Office allows users to work with larger sets of Excel and Project data. But, there are compatibility drawbacks for those users because Office add-ins and solutions might not work. That’s why 32-bit Office 2013 is recommended for most users.

Are you installing Office at home? Learn how to choose between 32-bit and 64-bit Office and how to install the 64-bit version of Office 2013 from No matter where you install Office 2013 or Office 365 ProPlus from, the 32-bit version is always recommended.

32-bit Office is recommended for most users

We recommend the 32-bit version of Office, because it is more compatible with most other applications, especially third-party add-ins. This is why the 32-bit version of Office 2013 is installed by default, even on 64-bit Windows operating systems. On these systems, the 32-bit Office client is supported as a Windows-32-on-Windows-64 (WOW64) installation. WOW64 is the x86 emulator that enables 32-bit Windows-based applications to run seamlessly on 64-bit Windows systems. This lets users continue to use existing Microsoft ActiveX Controls and COM add-ins with 32-bit Office.

64-bit Office has advantages that benefit only specific kinds of users and workloads

There are several cases in which you should consider deploying 64-bit Office 2013. Here are several examples:

  • Excel expert users who work with complex Excel worksheets can benefit from using 64-bit Office 2013. This is because 64-bit Office doesn’t impose hard limits on file size. Instead, workbook size is limited only by available memory and system resources. On the other hand, 32-bit Office is limited to 2 gigabytes (GB) of virtual address space, shared by Excel, the workbook, and add-ins that run in the same process. (Worksheets smaller than 2 GB on disk might still contain enough data to occupy 2 GB or more of addressable memory.) You can learn more in Excel specifications and limits and Data Model specifications and limits.
  • Users who use Project 2013 also benefit when they use Project files over 2 GB, especially when they are dealing with many subprojects to a large project.
  • In-house Office solution developers should have access to the 64-bit Office 2013 for testing and updating these solutions.
  • Office 2013 offers enhanced default security protections through Hardware Data Execution Prevention (DEP). (DEP) is a set of hardware and software technologies that perform additional checks on memory to help prevent malicious code from running on a system. For 64-bit installs, DEP will always be enforced for Office applications. On 32-bit installs, you can configure DEP by using Group Policy settings.

Review the requirements for deploying Office 64-bit

In addition to reviewing the Office 2013 system requirements, we recommend that you review these sections before you deploy 64-bit Office:

64-bit Office only works on 64-bit Windows

You can install the 64-bit Office only on 64-bit versions of Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2.

Running 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Office on the same computer isn’t supported

Office 2013 doesn’t support running side-by-side installations of 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Office. For example, you can’t install Office 2010 32-bit side-by-side with Office 2013 64-bit. This applies to both Windows Installer (MSI) and Click-to-Run installations of Office 2013. If you try to do this, you’ll receive an error message and be prevented from continuing.

When you upgrade to Office 2013, the architecture versions must be the same for the old and new version

When you deploy the MSI-based version of Office 2013, you can only upgrade Office to the same architecture. For example, you can upgrade from Office 2010 32-bit to Office 2013 32-bit, and you can upgrade from Office 2010 64-bit to Office 2013 64-bit.

If you want to switch between 32-bit and 64-bit versions, you must uninstall and then re-install Office 2013

If you install 32-bit and then later decide you want to switch to 64-bit, you have to uninstall the 32-bit version, and then re-install the 64-bit version. The reverse is also true—going from 64-bit Office to 32-bit Office also requires an uninstall and then a re-install.

Some applications block 64-bit Office 2013 installations

These applications also block a 64-bit Office 2013 installation:

  • Microsoft Office Excel Viewer
  • Access database engine of Access 2013
  • Compatibility Pack for the 2007 Office system

For additional information about applications and components that block 64-bit Office 2013, see KB 2269468: You receive the error message “You cannot install the 64-bit version of Office 2010 because you have 32-bit Office products installed”.

Compatibility issues that you’ll have to consider if you deploy 64-bit Office

Before you decide to deploy 64-bit Office 2013, consider these disadvantages:

Some 32-bit features aren’t in 64-bit versions of Office

Most features that are included in the 32-bit version of Office are included in the 64-bit version of Office. The following are some features that aren’t in the 64-bit version of Office.

  • Word   The legacy Equation Editor isn’t supported on 64-bit Office 2013, but is supported for 32-bit Office 2013 installations (WOW64). However, the equation builder feature in Word 2013 works on all platforms.
  • WLL (Word Add-in libraries)   WLL files are available for 32-bit Office 2013 and aren’t supported in 64-bit Office 2013.

Graphics rendering might have performance implications

Differences between the 32-bit and 64-bit Graphics Device Interface (GDI) might have performance implications because of the lack of MMX support on 64-bit. Intel’s MMX technology is an extension of the Intel architecture (IA) instruction set. The technology uses a single-instruction, multiple-data (SIMD) technique to speed up multimedia and communications software by processing data elements in parallel.

VBA code that uses Declare statements must be updated

Running VBA code that was written before the Office 2010 release (VBA version 6 and earlier) on a 64-bit platform can result in errors if the code isn’t changed to run in 64-bit versions of Office. To learn about the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) changes that were introduced in Office 2010, see 64-Bit Visual Basic for Applications Overview in the MSDN Library.

ActiveX controls and COM add-ins that were written for 32-bit Office won’t work in a 64-bit process

Computers can have 64-bit and 32-bit controls installed, and Office 2013 64-bit can only run the 64-bit versions of the controls. The workaround for resolving these issues is to obtain 64-bit compatible controls and add-ins or to install Office 2013 32-bit.

In addition to controls that load into Office applications, there are web-based solutions that use ActiveX controls in Internet Explorer. Office 2013 Datasheet views that are created by using a SharePoint Server 2013 work on any platform and in browsers other than Internet Explorer. The SharePoint Server 2013 Edit in Datasheet view doesn’t require a client-side control. For example, if a user has Office 2010 64-bit or Office 2013, Edit in Datasheet will work correctly on SharePoint Server 2013.

note Note:
For SharePoint Server 2010, 64-bit versions install some Office 32-bit client-side controls for supporting solutions in a 32-bit browser (the default browser on current 64-bit Windows systems). The Edit in Datasheet view functionality in SharePoint Server 2010 isn’t supported if you install 64-bit Office 2013 client. The Edit in Datasheet functionality is available if you install 32-bit Office 2013 client.


Microsoft Access .mde, .ade, and .accde database files that have had their source code removed can’t be moved between 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Office 2013

The .MDE and .ACCDE files, a common way for Access software developers to distribute solutions and protect their intellectually property, don’t work in the 64-bit version of Office. You must contact the application developer to recompile, retest, and redistribute the solution in the 64-bit version.

MAPI applications that work with Outlook must be rebuilt

If your organization developed 32-bit MAPI applications, add-ins, or macros for Outlook, there are actions that you should take to change and rebuild the 32-bit applications to run on a 64-bit platform. For information about how to prepare Outlook applications for 32-bit and 64-bit platforms, see the Outlook 2013 MAPI Reference in Microsoft Office Development in the MSDN Library.

In-place OLE activation might not work if the version of Office 2013 doesn’t match registered applications

The following issues might occur if there is no match between the version (32-bit or 64-bit) of Office 2013 and registered applications:

  • An OLE server might not instantiate in-place and might not open if the application registered isn’t the same version as the version of Office installed. This can occur, for example, if the OLE Server application is 32-bit and the version of Office installed is 64-bit.
  • An object inserted into an Office 2013 application document might fail in cross-version scenarios. This can occur, for example, if you insert a 32-bit object in a 64-bit Office 2013 application document.

Telemetry Log can help you identify compatibility issues with 64-bit Office

Telemetry Log is part of the new Office Telemetry monitoring framework that is built into Office 2013. It helps developers and experienced users diagnose compatibility issues by displaying events that occur within select Office 2013 applications. Among the issues it identifies are Visual Basic 6.0 controls that don’t work in 64-bit versions of Office.

When you’re ready to start assessing Office 2013 compatibility, we recommend that you start with the Assess Office 2013 compatibility. To troubleshoot add-ins and solutions on a computer that runs Office 2013, use Telemetry Log.

Change History

Date Description
July 23, 2013 Reorganized and revised the content.
July 16, 2012 Initial publication