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It Still Doesn’t Work – Windows 2003 Standard 32bit & 4 GB Ram

I’ve run across several cases recently where assigning 4GB of memory to a 32bit VM caused some concern by folks looking at what’s available in the system properties.

Example:

VM Settings 4GB Ram 
The VM is set to use 4GB ram (4096MB) & Booted.

System Properties
Properties show less than 4GB

Task Manager
As does Task Manager

So why is this? It’s not a VMware specific problem, as you’ll have this issue on physical hardware as well. The problem has a few parts to it. The first being 32bit addressing, and that it can only handle addressing memory up to a certain amount. The second being, the VM Bios that VMware presents does not appear to support the same remapping of memory that is used by system devices, and thusly you’ll only ever see 2.5-3.75GB available.

Take a look here and here for more information.