The other day I was firing up a virtual machine and got an error message that looked a lot like:
This confused me because I am supposed to have a sizable 4 GB of memory on this computer. Sure enough I fire up the System Properties and find out I only have 3 GB (2.98) of memory!? What happened to oh say...that other gigabyte that I paid for and then laboriously installed?
I wanted to make sure that the memory wasn't bad so I booted into OS X (this is an iMac) and saw all 4 GB gloriously presented to the other OS. So I had to wonder, is this Boot Camp or Windows XP SP2 making my life harder than it needs to be?
I dug around on the information super highway and found a bunch of info in forums, but a lot of it was misleading (which is why I'm writing this in the first place). To set the record straight, you're screwed. Yes it IS possible for a 32 bit operating system like Windows XP to address 4 GB of memory, and technically it does, just not the way you'd like it too. It's of note that some people get 3.5 GB to show, others get 3.7GB it kind of depends what kind of other devices you have in your computer.
Before I continue let me first say that changing the boot.ini and adding /3GB and /PAE will NOT help Windows XP recognize any more memory. This was probably the biggest source of confusion that I found while bouncing around in the forums. If you value your time, don't throw it at these pointless flags.
The Windows Server Performance Team as a blog post that describes why /3GB and /PAE will not help you here. Essentially (and I'm paraphrasing here from a bright guy named Dan) Windows 32 DOES support 4 GB of memory. But this includes the memory for ALL the devices in your computer. Some of that addressable range is eaten up by other devices. If you have a 512MB video card you will never see more that 3.5 GB of memory, less any other devices (some of which are system reserved blocks). For more info see Dan's post.
The real moral of the story is you're hosed. Stop wasting your time. If you want all 4 GB to show run a 64 bit OS you old timer!
1 GB Smaller,