Geoff Chappell published an article explaining how the 4GB memory limit for 32-bit Windows (he is writing mainly about Vista) is more of a licensing preference than an architectural limit. The article outlines how Chappell unlocked his system to use all the memory that is present, but cautions that such hackery is ill-advised for several reasons, including legal ones.
“If you want [to be able to use more than 4GB in Vista] without contrivance, then pester Microsoft for an upgrade of the license data or at least for a credible, detailed reasoning of its policy for licensing your use of your computer’s memory. … [C]onsider Windows Server 2008. For the loader and kernel in Windows Vista SP1 (and, by the way, for the overwhelming majority of all executables), the corresponding executable in Windows Server 2008 is exactly the same, byte for byte. Yet Microsoft sells 32-bit Windows Server 2008 for use with as much as 64GB of memory. Does Microsoft really mean to say that when it re-badges these same executables as Windows Vista SP1, they suddenly acquire an architectural limit of 4GB? Or is it that a driver for Windows Server 2008 is safe for using with memory above 4GB as long as you don’t let it interact with the identical executables from Windows Vista SP1?”
Read the full article here.