As you guessed, Program Files (x86) is for 32-bit applications. The x86 is
somewhat outdated now, but it refers to the family of Intel processors,
starting with the 8086, followed by 80186, 80286 and 80386 - and the 486 and
then the Pentium. The main Program Files folder - without the x86 - is for
64-bit applications, of which there are still only a few. Most applications
have not yet made the transition and are available as 32-bit only.
Some programs (Internet Explorer is one) come in two versions. The 32-bit
version, which runs by default, is in PF86 (pardon my shorthand); the 64-bit
version is in PF. To run the 64-bit edition, you can browse to C:\Program
Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe and click on it; you can also create a
shortcut or pin it to your Start menu, just like any other application. You
can even run both versions of IE at the same time, each running from its own
It is best to keep BOTH versions and not try to save disk space by combining
them because each uses its own version of certain .dll files, drivers and
other support files, stored in the separate Program Files folders.
When I first saw the (x86) folder in Windows XP x64 several years ago, I
guessed wrong about it and tried to put my 64-bit programs there for about 6
months before I learned its true meaning. Things got very tangled because I
was still dual-booting with 32-bit WinXP Pro and tried to run a single set
of executable files for Microsoft Office and other programs from the PF (no
x86) folder. :>( Please don't make that mistake!
In time, as 32-bit apps fade into history, the (x86) folder will disappear,
I suppose, but I expect it will take several years.
Welcome to the 64-bit world! ;<)
R. C. White, CPA
San Marcos, TX
Microsoft Windows MVP
Windows Live Mail 2009 (14.0.8064.0206) in Win7 Ultimate x64 7000
"smudger1767" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
> Hi there, Ive just changed from 32bit to the 64bit OS, and I have
> noticed that I have 2 Program Folders one has x86 next to it. I take it
> that this is for 32bit programs and the other for 64bit applications.
> The question I have is most of the programs are in both folders which
> means taken up valuable harddrive space, is it advisable to delette the
> 32bit folder.