A program written in native 32 bit Windows format is created in what is called FLAT memory model which has a single segment that contains both code and data. The programs must be run on a 386 or higher processor.

Differing from earlier 16 bit code that used combined segment and offset addressing with a 64k segment limit, FLAT memory model works only in offsets and has a range of 4 gigabytes. This makes assembler easier to write and the code is generally a lot faster.

All segment registers are automatically set to the same value with this memory model and this means that segment / offset addressing must NOT be used in 32 bit programs that run in 32 bit Windows.

For programmers who have written code in DOS, a 32 bit Windows PE executable file is similar in some respects to a dos COM file, they have a single segment that can contain both code and data and they both work directly in offsets, neither use Segment / Offset addressing.

The defaults in flat-model programs are NEAR code addressing and NEAR data addressing within the range of 4 gigabytes.

The FS and GS segment registers are not normally used in application programs but are used in some instances by the operating system.



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