Understanding what Android actually IS

imageAndroid is not a 1 to 1 comparison to any other mobile OS.  Android is something that unifies many mobile devices that used to be different.

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See also:  Understanding the Android App Store: ArsTechnica.com doesn’t understand it nor risk vs. freedom

In reality, all those mobile handsets, tablets, and “phablets” are still different from each other, but now they share a significant amount in common.  They now share so much in common that people now mistake them as interchangeable like Windows desktop PCs pretty much are.

Folks need to remember that they’re still devices created by the same phone makers that still want their phones to stand out and be unique… like they were before Android.  The fact that these phones now have a similar UI and more than zero compatibility now is a huge improvement over the state of the market just a few short years ago when there was NO compatibility.  But, this compatibility should really be thought of more as a side effect than as an intent.  Sure, the handset makers know there’ll be some compatibility with their competitors simply because they’re starting with the same base code and yes they even sell on that fact, but you should understand that it is really more of a side effect of the fact that they’re starting with the same base code.

Each mobile handset maker still has their OWN OS, despite the fact they all call their OS “Android”.  In reality, HTC had “HTC Android”, which is different from say, “Droid Android”, which is different from the “Amazon Kindle Fire Android”.

“Android” simply means that they started their custom OS from a public base of an OS that others also started theirs with, so there are bound to be some similarities, and there are, of course.

If you look at it that way and adjust your expectations to that actual reality, it’s harder to get upset.  If you’re looking for an iPhone “exactness across all models” experience, you’re going to be sorely disappointed because it is NOT that, nor is it supposed to be.  That could change at some point in the future, but that also would change what Android actually is… which is a base OS that others branch from to form their own without having to start from scratch to save heap-big money.  As a side effect, we get a lot of compatibility between devices.

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64bit and 32bit versions of IE

Please forgive the “E-Maillyness” of this post because it actually is an E-Mail message.  I spent a good deal of time on it and it’s a common question, so I wanted to share my answer here.  All “low quality post” forgiveness to e-mail should be applied here as well! Smile

On 3/30/2012 11:38 AM, George wrote:

Hey CSharpner,

I have been needing to use skype for video conference calls and downloaded the update the other day.

Ever since I downloaded the update, skype shuts down in about 10 to 15 min of each session without me touching anything…(it had been working fine before that)…

(I am trying to troubleshoot that.

One thing I noticed is that the IE that I have states in properties that it is 256 bit Cipher Strenght ….I was checking to see if I needed to update flash, and the instructions there said

to make sure one has the correct bit for IE. My operating system is 64 bit, and I assume IE should be the same. Do I have the wrong version of IE?

Thanks for your guidance!


You’re confusing bits with, er, uh, bits! 🙂  Does that help?

heh… Let me see if I can explain it better:

Here’s a blog post I wrote on the subject:  32 bit vs. 64 bit: What’s it mean?

In short:
Unfortunately, you’ve asked a simple question with a complicated answer.  It requires several layers of understanding… each upper layer requiring an understanding of the layer beneath it.  I’ll do my best to uncomplicate it, but it’ll take many words to do so.   But the words will be fairly simple in and of themselves.  Let’s get started:

When home computers came out in the 1970’s, like the original Apple computer and the Apple // computers shortly thereafter, they were 8 bit computers.  This means that when the CPU chip (the brain) talks to the Memory chips, it can send and receive data 8 bits at a time (8 actual wires on the motherboard between the memory and the CPU… to severely over-simplify the explanation).    Now, as technology increased, they doubled the amount of wires between the CPU and the memory to 16 bits.  This means the CPU can send and receive TWICE as much data in the same amount of time as the older 8 bit CPUs without actually running the CPU clock any faster.  Later technology doubled it again to 32 bit.  32 bit became the norm in the early 1990s.  Around 10 years or so ago, 64 bit machines started to become normal.  Today, virtually all machines are 64 bit.

Now, that’s the hardware story.  Let’s switch over to the software side:…

Operating Systems like Microsoft DOS in the 1980’s or Apple DOS for Apple // computers in the 1980’s and the Mac OS are written for a specific type of hardware.  The Apple // operating systems were written for 8 bit hardware.  Microsoft DOS was written for 16 bit IBM PCs and the Mac OS was written for 16 bit hardware for the original Macs (might have been 32bit… I wasn’t in the Mac world then).  Let’s narrow the discussion to Microsoft OS’s and the hardware they’re written for:

MS DOS of the 1980’s was written for 16 bit hardware.  Later, Windows arrived on the scene and was still written for 16bit hardware, but while 16 bit Windows was out, 32 bit hardware started becoming available.  But, 16 bit Windows was still written for 16 bit hardware.  The 32bit hardware could run 16 bit software just fine… the software just wouldn’t gain any benefits of the 32 bit hardware because, obviously, they were pre-programmed for 16 bit operations.  So, software and hardware don’t have to be the same “bits”, so to speak.  Later, when Windows 95 and Windows NT came out, Windows became a 32 bit operating system (for the most part).  Then, the hardware advanced again to become 64bit hardware.  Windows 95, 98, and ME were still 32 bit.  It wasn’t until Windows XP came out that they finally made Windows 64 bit capable (well, they did with NT, but let’s not confuse an over-simplified story here).  They actually had TWO versions of Windows XP… a 32bit version and a 64bit version.  The vast majority of computer users bought and installed the 32 bit version, even though almost all PC hardware was 64 bit capable… Even PC manufacturers would pre-install 32 bit Windows XP on their machines.

Right now, it’s finally starting to become the norm that new PCs have a 64bit version of Windows installed.

But, there’s more:

We talked about 8, 16, 32, and 64 bit hardware and 8, 16, 32, and 64 bit Operating Systems, but to move forward to answer your question, we must introduce one more item (believe it or not, I’ve left out a LOT of discussion on this!)…  Applications.   Apps too can be 8, 16, 32, or 64 bit, regardless of the operating system under which they run and regardless of the hardware on which they run.  Of course, an app can’t have a higher “bit rating” than the operating system it runs under and and operating system can’t have a higher bit rating than the hardware it runs on.  But, a 64 bit piece of hardware can run a 32 bit operating system that runs a 16 bit app.  Follow?

A 64 bit piece of hardware can run 64 bit software, 32 bit software, 16 bit software, and 8 bit software (and maybe even 4 bit software… not sure because we’re talking early 1970’s at that 4-bit level).  Ditto for an Operating system.  An operating system can run apps designed for the OS’s highest bit rating or lower.

Now, we can start answering your question!

64 bit Windows comes with TWO versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer:  a 64 bit version and a 32 bit version.  Under your Windows 7 start menu and under “All Programs”, you should find BOTH of them.  The 64 bit version should be labeled as “Internet Explore (64-bit)” or something like that.  The 32 bit version should just be labeled, “Internet Explorer”.  If you only have one, then you probably have a 32 bit version of Windows installed and that’s a problem in and of itself which we’ll discuss later if that’s the case.  If you’re not sure which is which, just launch one, then open the gear menu, then choose “About Internet Explorer”:

You’ll see something like this:
Or this:
Notice the difference?  No?  Look at this:

One says “64-bit Edition”, the other doesn’t.  THAT’s the thing you need to look at, not the “Cipher Strength”.  “Cipher Strength” has absolutely nothing to do with any of this discussion and nothing to do with your question.  All “Cipher Strength” is, is how good your browser is at encrypting web pages.  That’s it.  The answer to you next question is “NO!”.  It still doesn’t have anything to do with your Skype issue.  No!  Not even then!  No, seriously!  Stop trying to connive of a way to make it relevant.  It’s not!  Just stop!  Can we move on now? 🙂

Now, virtually all browser plugins require the 32 bit version of Internet Explorer.  Hardly anything supports the 64 bit version.  So, make sure you’re running the 32 bit version of IE when using Skype.

Wait!  You’re using Internet Explorer?!??!?!??  WHY?  Stop that right now!  Use FireFox or Chrome!  Holy Crap Dude! 🙂

I’ve not heard of any issues with Skype lately.

Hope that helps!