Update: Since Primavera P6 16, the 64-bit version is default.
There was a decision to be made. It was just a simple check box. But looking back now, I’m as surprised as Robert Frost to the difference it made.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.–Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.
Not that installing software is like poetry at all, but sometimes you realize that a small decision made a few weeks back can make a world of a difference. Let me explain.
I recently installed Primavera P6 Professional 15.2 for a client, the latest version of Oracle’s Project Management software. It was a pretty normal day.
Somewhere at the front of the install,…. in fact it might be the first prompt,
“Please select the Platform you wish to install: 32 Bit or 64 Bit.“
Whereas I thought there was no question about whether to install Primavera P6 64-bit vs the 32-bit install (I always go 64-bit), it turns out there are some important things to consider. More on that shortly.
So I choose: 64 Bit.
And the install proceeded as normal. It completed, we configured a database and in 5 minutes the latest version of Primavera P6 was up and running.
Why Install Primavera P6 64-Bit version?
During the install, it seemed to make sense to go with the 64-bit version. We all like our applications as speedy and robust as possible, and when you opt to install a 64-bit application, that’s the implication we’ve interpreted. Although, computer scientists will tell you it’s not always the case, we do expect 64-bit applications to run faster than their 32-bit counterparts.
64-Bit applications can access more RAM – like a LOT more RAM. But that alone doesn’t make them faster. It depends on what sort of data the application works with. And in the case of Primavera P6, which is very data intensive, the 64-bit capacity should deliver a faster application to the user.
Who doesn’t want a faster application? Why would you not install the potentially faster version?
We here’s one.
Microsoft Office Applications
That’s right. The platform version of Microsoft Office you already have installed can have a major impact on whether you should opt for the 64-bit version of Primavera P6.
Primavera P6 is integrated in some ways with MS Excel. An uber-common feature is to export data to XLS format from P6 to allow users to manipulate it or view it in Excel. And now, a major discovery.
32-bit Office Applications Are Incompatible With 64-bit Primavera P6
When I tried to export Primavera P6 data to XLS, I received the following popup message:
“Excel Import / Export features require Microsoft Database Engine. Please contact administrator.”
This was so confusing. I’ve exported data to Excel at least a thousand times and never had problems with it. But since I had a 32-bit version of Microsoft Excel, I was getting this error. The Road less traveled.
Primavera P6 64-Bit vs 32-Bit – What Are the Differences?
As I dug deeper into how to fix my Excel issue, I found a document called “P6 Professional 15R2 32-bit and 64-bit Features – White Paper”. You can get a copy from Oracle.
There are some differences in features between Primavera P6 64-Bit and 32-Bit. I’ve outlined them here for you.
**It may be possible to get 32-bit P6 to work with 64-bit Excel.
From a glance at this table, you can see that some important P6 features are disabled with the 64-bit version of Primavera P6. There is no warning during the installation.
While the P6 Features white paper I mentioned above is heavy on highlighting the performance benefits of Primavera P6 64-Bit, if you do install it, you might be surprised to find out that there are some important features missing. These features only behave in 32-bit mode, so there are not included in the 64-bit version.
After discovering all of this, I ended up uninstalling Primavera P6 64-bit and reinstalling the 32-bit version. It was much easier than reinstalling Microsoft Office and upgrading to a 64-bit version. The performance of Primavera P6 in 32-bit mode is sufficient for the work that I do.
For the time being, I’m recommending to readers to use 32-bit Microsoft Office apps (even Microsoft recommends 32-bit) and a 32-bit Primavera P6 Professional 15.2 .
Let’s see what’s new when Oracle releases version 16.1 later this quarter or early next.
Oh yes. Don’t let this deter you from taking the road less traveled. Check out our article on 5 Ways to Prevent Your Primavera P6 Install From Getting Hacked.