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Why 64-bit Windows need 2 program files ?

Are you using 64-bit version of Windows ? Ever noticed there exists two program files ? If yes, then you may be wondering why so... 
Geek Winky is going to explain this. But before proceeding you should understand that 64-bit and 32-bit applications are accumulated differently.
                A program containing 32-bit instruction can be easily read by PC's built of 64-bit version, but when we try to run 64-bit instruction on a 32-bit platform it won't be possible..

Looking earlier in 2005, when Microsoft has launched both 32-bit & 64-bit versions of Windows O.S. 64-bit versions have the ability to work with large amount of data and can access large memory. And if you are using 64-bit version of Windows, then you must have a knowledge about this that why two program files are existing on your system. 
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What's the main difference between Program Files & Program Files(x86)

Program Files - It contains 64-bit programs and applications
Program Files(x86) - It contains 32-bit programs and applications

64-bit applications have been compiled specifically to use it on a 64-bit computer. They make use of system features which is specified to a 64-bit architecture, and they access 64-bit versions of the Windows software libraries.

32-bit applications are provision applications or modern programs that have been compiled for 32-bit processing capabilities.
Ever heard of WoW64, its a compatibility layer used in windows which stands for ( Windows 32 on Windows 64). By making use of this layer 64-bit versions of Windows can run these programs designed for 32-bit...

Now the question arises why the folder for 32-bit applications named as Program Files(x86)?

Why it is named Program Files(x86)

To refer to 32-bit processors, x86 is another name. Originally, 16-bit processors — specifically, the 8086 and 8088 processor architectures — were referred to as "x86". This name was later extended to include the 32-bit 80386 and 80486 processor family. When 64-bit processors were introduced, they were referred to as x64 to distinguish them from the older processor lines.

Why the 32-bit & 64-bit application programs kept in discrete folders

There may be several reasons for this...
  • It is convenient because its an easy way to tell them apart.
  • It reduces the chances of a conflict when you install both a 32-bit and 64-bit version of the same program on one system.
  • It increases the chance that older programs will work properly, reducing the chance that they will interact with 64-bit software accidentally.
Whenever you install any program on a computer with 64-bit CPU, its folders are, more or less, intended for 64-bit content. When a 32-bit program tries to use a 64-bit component, it faces some problems.
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                So, Windows separates the directories of 64-bit and 32-bit programs. The Program Files (x86) is the one for storing 32-bit program. x86 stands for the type of processors — 286, 386, 486, 586(Pentium).
Another reason is that 64-bit software doesn’t act nicely with 32-bit extensions, and vice versa. It increases the chances of a conflict if you happen to install both 64-bit and 32-bit versions of a program on the same system.

Apart from the Program Files, there are some other Windows components that have both 32-bit and 64-bit copies. Some of these are stored in winsxs (stands for windows side by side) and syswow64 (Windows 32 on Windows 64).

Hope you guys like this information about the very curious topic....
For any queries use the comment section section below. And for further updates, keep checking Geek Winky

Article By : Atul Agrawal, Sr. Technical Writer & Editor @ Geek Winky
                                          Ping me up at
Why 64-bit Windows need 2 program files ? Reviewed by Atul Agrawal on 7:37 AM Rating: 5
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