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Posted 7 Sep 2010


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32-Bit or 64-bit OS ??

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4.08/5 (9 votes)
21 Sep 2010CPOL2 min read
A simple way to detect bitness of an OS Programatically. (C# and C++ examples given)
There's always been a fight over an optimal way to detect bitness of an OS. Most of the time, getting system information is considered to be solved using interop services or P/Invoke. For this, the methodology followed is as shown below:

public enum Platform

    internal const ushort PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE_INTEL = 0;
    internal const ushort PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE_IA64 = 6;
    internal const ushort PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE_AMD64 = 9;
    internal const ushort PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE_UNKNOWN = 0xFFFF;

    internal struct SYSTEM_INFO
      public ushort wProcessorArchitecture;
      public ushort wReserved;
      public uint dwPageSize;
      public IntPtr lpMinimumApplicationAddress;
      public IntPtr lpMaximumApplicationAddress;
      public UIntPtr dwActiveProcessorMask;
      public uint dwNumberOfProcessors;
      public uint dwProcessorType;
      public uint dwAllocationGranularity;
      public ushort wProcessorLevel;
      public ushort wProcessorRevision;

    internal static extern void GetNativeSystemInfo(ref SYSTEM_INFO lpSystemInfo);

    internal static extern void GetSystemInfo(ref SYSTEM_INFO lpSystemInfo);

    public static Platform GetPlatform()
      SYSTEM_INFO sysInfo = new SYSTEM_INFO();

      if(System.Environment.OSVersion.Version.Major > 5 ||
    (System.Environment.OSVersion.Version.Major == 5 && System.Environment.OSVersion.Version.Minor >= 1))
         GetNativeSystemInfo(ref sysInfo);
         GetSystemInfo(ref sysInfo);

      return Platform.X64;

      return Platform.X86;

      return Platform.Unknown;

Actually there's a simple way to do that in C#. C# provides a very useful struct IntPtr.

64-Bit Vs 32-Bit w.r.t Pointer

We all know that the size of an Pointer on a 32-bit machine compiled program is 4-Bytes. The size changes on a 64-Bit compiled program and becomes 8-bytes. Then why not compare the size of Integer. Pointer is nothing but an Integer and IntPtr serves the same for us in C#.

The following example shows the simple usage of IntPtr.
(UPDATE: As Win64 follows LLP64 Model (For more informarion on LLP64 model please follow Technet Article[^]) as corrected by codeproject member Ajay Vijayvargiya[^])

if(IntPtr.size == 4)
   //Your logic for 32-Bit.
  // Your logic for 64-Bit.

Previous code checks whether the program is running in 32-bit or 64-bit mode. This doesn't inform OS bitness.

If using C++/Win32:
IntPtr is not available in C++. Rather sizeof(int) does the same.

BOOL Is64BitOS()
	BOOL bIs64Bit = FALSE;

	#if defined(_WIN64)

	bIs64Bit = TRUE;  // 64-bit programs run only on Win64

	#elif defined(_WIN32)

	// Note that 32-bit programs run on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows

	LPFNISWOW64PROCESS pfnIsWow64Process = (LPFNISWOW64PROCESS)GetProcAddress(GetModuleHandle(_T("kernel32")), "IsWow64Process");

	if (pfnIsWow64Process)
		pfnIsWow64Process(GetCurrentProcess(), &bIs64Bit);


	return bIs64Bit;

There's one more distinctive feature a 64-Bit OS supports: "Virtualization".

Virtualization (Windows Vista and 7 x64 Platform only)

Virtualization technologies are used by Windows Vista and 7 x64 platform only. These act like virtual machines just like VMWare or similar apps. The advantage here is to run legacy apps such s 32-bit apps. Running 32-Bit apps on 64-Bit OS becomes difficult without virtualization as such applications are usually not written to co-exist within a single execution environment.

64-Bit applications are never run virtualized, nor do 32 or 64-Bit services and drivers. Virtualization becomes active when running legacy 32-bit interactive apps under WOW64.

So if the OS supports virtualization, then it got to be 64-Bit.

You can use the following code to check whether the app is running as virtualized:

[DllImport("advapi32.dll", EntryPoint = "GetTokenInformation",
SetLastError = true)]
static extern bool GetTokenInformationNative(
IntPtr TokenHandle,
int TokenInformationClass,
ref int  TokenInformation,
int TokenInformationLength,
out int ReturnLength);

public bool IsVirtualized(IntPtr token)
    bool virtualized = false;
    int len = 4;
    int info = 0;
    if (!GetTokenInformationNative(token, 24, ref info, len, out
    len)) // 24 = TokenVirtualizationEnabled
       string s = "Win32 error " +
       throw new Exception(s);
    if(info != 0)
       virtualized = true;
    return virtualized;

// usage...

if(IsVirtualized(WindowsIdentity.GetCurrent().Toke  n))
// better add a manifest to your application if you end here ;-)

Thanks to Luc Pattyn[^] and Ajay Vijayvargiya[^] to point out the errors. :)


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 3 Pin
i0013-Aug-17 14:28
Memberi0013-Aug-17 14:28 
GeneralReason for my vote of 5 You are right, I hadn't read with en... Pin
Sauro Viti21-Oct-10 21:32
professionalSauro Viti21-Oct-10 21:32 
GeneralReason for my vote of 3 Good start, but some mistakes. Pin
Toli Cuturicu11-Oct-10 12:39
MemberToli Cuturicu11-Oct-10 12:39 
GeneralIf using C++: IntPtr is not available in C++. Rather sizeof(... Pin
Ajay Vijayvargiya19-Sep-10 11:56
MemberAjay Vijayvargiya19-Sep-10 11:56 

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