Windows Guide

Guide to Program Files folder

Every computer with Windows has a Program Files folder where most application software is installed. Most Windows programs also register themselves in the registry and are listed in the Programs and Features control panel so they can be easily uninstalled. This list is stored in the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall where details of uninstall scripts are saved. If a 64-bit OS is installed, then you get two Program files folders:
a) Program files - Stores 64-bit only applications.
b) Program files (x86) - Stores 32-bit only applications.

Not all program details are stored in the registry and if they do not have an uninstall script then they can be removed manually via Explorer and put into the Recycle bin.

Folder Purpose
Program Files Stores Application programs
Program files (x86) Stores applications for 32-bit programs on 64-bit OS
Application Verifier Windows Application Verifier automation files
Common Files Stores various common program files
Common Files\InstallShield Files for InstallShield program
Common Files\Merge Modules Installation database files
Common Files\Microsoft Various microsoft files incl. Extensions
Common Files\Microsoft Shared Shared Files for Microsoft programs such as Office, Visual Studio
Common Files\MigrationSpecialties Shared Program files from migration specialialies
Common Files\Services Bitmaps from internet
Common Files\SpeechEngine Files for Microsoft's Speech facility
Common Files\SSL Configuration files for Open Secure Socket Layers
Common Files\System Shared files for system
dotnet .NET runtimes and SDK files
IIS IIS Web Deploy files
IIS Express IIS Express web server esp. for Visual Studio
InstallShield Installation Information Setup files for InstallShield
Internet Explorer Internet Explorer web browser program files
Microsoft\Edge Microsoft Edge Web browser
Microsoft\EdgeCore Edge core program and libraries
Microsoft\EdgeUpdate Edge update program and files
Microsoft\EdgeWebView Webview programs and libraries
Microsoft\OneDrive OneDrive settings
Microsoft Analysis Services Microsoft Analysis DLLs
Microsoft Application Virtualization Client Application Virtualization Client programs and files
Microsoft ASP.NET Files for Active Server Pages .NET Framework
Microsoft Games Microsoft games e.g. Flight Simulator
Microsoft Help Viewer Microsoft Help file viewer programs
Microsoft LifeCam Program files for LifeCam
Microsoft Office Microsoft office programs and files
Microsoft OneDrive Microsoft cloud based OneDrive files
Microsoft SDKs Software development kits e.g. Phone, Visual Studio, Expression, Silverlight and Windows
Microsoft SQL Server Microsoft's Structured Query Language database program files
Microsoft Update Health Tools Update health program and libraries
Microsoft Visual Studio Microsoft's Development software
Microsoft Web Tools Web development files
Microsoft XDE Windows Phone Emulator programs
Microsoft XBox 360 Accessories XBox joypad programs and drivers
Microsoft.NET Microsoft .NET Framework files
ModifiableWindowsApps Optional files for apps
MSBuild Microsoft Visual Studio build files or Workflow Foundation files
MSXML Microsoft's eXtensible Markup Language files
Reference Assemblies NET Framework 3.0, 3.5 libraries
Skype Skype IP Telephony and instant chat program
Uninstall Information Program uninstall information files
Windows Defender Microsoft anti-malware program
Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection Windows defender sesne programs
Windows Kits Various tools
Windows Mail Contact and migration tools
Windows Media Player Microsoft's Media Player program
Windows Multimedia Platform SQM Client DLL
Windows NT Accessory Programs. Table Text Service
Windows Photo Viewer Imaging Devices program
Windows Portable Devices SQM Client DLL
Windows Security BrowserCore program
Windows Sidebar Gadgets for sidebar
WindowsApps App Programs (see Start Menu)
WindowsPowershell Powershell Modules
WPF Toolkit Windows Presentation Foundation DLLs

Using the Command Line