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64-bit applications

Many applications now available come in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. In general at PortableApps.com we don’t include 64-bit versions of apps in our packages. Our reasoning behind this is that almost all 32-bit apps work in 64-bit versions of Windows, and there is normally little or no performance benefit from running a native 64-bit app instead of its 32-bit build. So normally including a 64-bit build as well as a 32-bit build would just add to the size of a package (approximately doubling it) without any real benefit. For some more explanation of our policy on 64-bit apps and what happens with them, see 64-bit Software: Where It Fits Into Portable Apps.

There are however some cases where there is benefit in including 64-bit builds of apps. The most common is for apps that utilise low-level functions in the operating system which don’t work in Wow64 (the 32-bit emulation part of a 64-bit version of Windows). For example, JkDefrag Portable includes both 32-bit and 64-bit builds of JkDefrag, because the defragmentation must be run differently between the two architectures. The version to use is automatically selected by the launcher.

Another app at PortableApps.com which includes both 32-bit and 64-bit builds is 7-Zip Portable. A 32-bit build of 7-Zip does run on a 64-bit version of Windows, but with the processor-intensive compression, there is a noticeable difference in performance between the 32-bit build and the native 64-bit build: on a 64-bit operating system, the 64-bit build compresses and decompresses archives approximately 5-15% faster than the 32-bit build. However, recall that the 64-bit version will not run on a 32-bit operating system; this is the reason why the 64-bit version alone cannot comprise the app. Because the size difference was fairly small (less than a couple of megabytes), and the benefits were deemed to be significant enough, 7-Zip Portable is now provided with both 32-bit and 64-bit builds included, automatically selected based on the base computer’s architecture.

To support 64-bit apps, the PortableApps.com Launcher can select a different program executable to run from the normal one. The configuration for this is in the launcher.ini keys [Launch]:ProgramExecutable64 and [Launch]:ProgramExecutableWhenParameters64.

Some apps will have their 32-bit and 64-bit versions next to one another, for example in App\AppName\AppName.exe and App\AppName\AppName64.exe; sometimes however they will be in different directories – App\AppName\AppName.exe and App\AppName64\AppName.exe.

It is possible that an environment variable will be needed to specify %PAL:AppDir%\AppName and %PAL:AppDir%\AppName64, depending on the architecture, so that a configuration file can be updated. If this is required, it can be done easily with custom code. A variable $Bits is provided which contains the value 64 for 64-bit computers and 32 for 32-bit computers. Here is how you might use it (note that it goes in the Init hook; $Bits is set up in .onInit and so it is ready for use):


    ${If} $Bits = 64
        ${SetEnvironmentVariablesPath} FullAppDir $AppDirectory\AppName64
        ${SetEnvironmentVariablesPath} FullAppDir $AppDirectory\AppName

With this code, the environment variables FullAppDir, and also the additional environment variables FullAppDir:ForwardSlash, etc. will be available for use in things like a [FileWriteN] section.

New in version 2.1.


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