The general view I'm getting is to go with 32Bit Vista (or XP) atm rather than 64Bit. To quote directly from one of the Best Buy manufacturers in October's PC Advisor: "We can provide the PC with 64bit Vista for the same price as 32 bit Vista and all the components/drivers that we use will be compatible with the 64bit version. However a lot of other software and hardware (some of which you might wish to install on your PC) is not compatible with 64bit XP or Vista. In the last two years all of our customers who have decided to go with 64 bit Windows have had extensive problems which have been resolved as soon as they converted to the 32 bit version of the operating system." So, having been dissuaded from 64Bit OS, is a Quad Core processor a waste of money for a 32Bit OS?
Quad should handle programs better as long as it remains stable. Quad will or should be able to do more work at the same time. it will however not be four times as fast as 32bit programs will just not run above a given speed but you should be able to open more programs at the same time and have them working. Like running AV check while doing work and surfing the Net, at the same time
My understanding is that a dual core processor will prove more useful in the short term, but that a quad core CPU is a long term investment that will prove beneficial when suitable programs and applications are released.