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I plan to upgrade to Windows 7 64bit and am uncertain whether I must upgrade to After Effects CS4?
Most likely you will have to. AE7 isn't even compatible and officially supported with Vista (for some users it works, others are having problems), so it may be even more problematic on W7. Depending on which version of W7 you plan on getting, it could however perfectly run in the virtualized Win XP, so it's a yes-no-perhaps answer after all. However, in the long run you possibly can't avoid getting a newer version. One day you may encounter a video clip that the AE7 simply is not able to handle, Quicktime compatibility might become an issue and some of your favorite plug-ins may get updated, but only for newer versions of AE. In fact several recent plug-in updates (Particular 2, Digieffects FreeForm etc.) already require CS3 as a minimum, as in AE7 or before they cannot add all effects controls (it was limited to 128) or cannot serialize properly. And of course you will miss out on any performance enhancements, so it becomes a matter of "Why buy a new computer, if it's never maxed out and AE7 runs like a turtle on it?". AE's multiprocessing, while far from perfect, might just be what you need to enhance throughput. Just make sure to follow the usual pre-requisites when buying a 64bit machine and planning to use that feature - lots of RAM.
Thank you Mylenium. I am sure you are right but will wait and find out when Win 7 64 bit is running.
Yes, of course. Since I just got a new computer at the time and didn't feel adventurous, I never tried Windows 7 myself, but I experienced some issues with AE 7 on my Vista 32 on my MacBook, so I'm being cautious. If you're lucky, on your system this may run without a hitch...