Windows stores the installed programs and applications files and folders in the Program Files directory. But after Windows Vista, the “Program Files x86 ” directory also appears which has a very similar name. They are generally located into the Windows operating system installed partition which is “C:\” by default and the full paths are “C:\Program Files\” and “C:\Program Files x86\“.
With the Windows 95 operating system version, the operating systems are provided as 32-bit. Before that Windows operating systems were 16-bit. The 32-bit operating systems gained popularity where installed applications also provided as 32-bit. The Windows stored the 32-bit applications in the C:\Program Files by default.
With the emerge of the 64-bit operating systems where Windows Vista was the first 64-bit end-user operating system released by Microsoft new era started. The 64-bit supports both 32-bit and 64-bit without a problem where 64-bit Windows operating systems also support 32-bit and 64-bit programs and applications. In order to stored built-in and installed applications 64-bit Windows operating systems created an extra Program Files directory where the “Program Files” directory is used by the 64-bit applications and programs. “Program Files (x86)” directory is created in order to store 32-bit applications and programs.
“Program Files” Directory 64-bit
The 64-bit applications and programs are stored under the “C:\Program Files” . As 64-bit applications can load and use 32-bit libraries and DLLs this directory may have links to the “Program Files(x86)” directory to use 32-bit libraries and DLLs.
“Program Files x86” Directory 32-bit
32-bit applications and programs are stored under the “Program Files x86”. 32-bit applications and programs can not use 64-bit libraries and DLLs so there is no link from the “Program Files x86” to the “Program Files”.