Windows 8

Windows 8.1 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 instaleld, 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
Common Files Stores various common program files
Common Files\Adobe Files for Adobe programs
Common Files\InstallShield Files for InstallShield program
Common Files\Merge Modules Installation database files
Common Files\Microsoft Shared Shared Files for Microsoft programs
Common Files\Services Bitmaps from internet
Common Files\SpeechEngine Files for Microsoft's Speech facility
Common Files\System Shared files for system
InstallShield Installation Information Setup files for InstallShield
Internet Explorer Internet Explorer web browser program files
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 Expression Program files for Expression Web editor program
Microsoft Games Microsoft games e.g. Flight Simulator
Microsoft Games for Windows - LIVE Games Live client program files
Microsoft Help Viewer Microsoft Help file viewer programs
Microsoft Office Microsoft office programs and files
Microsoft SDKs Software development kits e.g. Phone, Visual Studio, Expression, Silverlight and Windows
Microsoft Silverlight Silverlight multimedia plugin, programs and files
Microsoft SQL Server Microsoft's Structured Query Language database program files
Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition Microsoft's Structured Query Language compact database program files
Microsoft Sync Framework Synchronisation DLL files
Microsoft Synchronization Services Netmeeting communication program
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 XNA Windows Game Studio development files
Microsoft.NET Microsoft .NET Framework files
MSBuild Microsoft Visual Studio build files
MSXML Microsoft's eXtensible Markup Language files
Skype Skype IP Telephony and instant chat program
Uninstall Information Program uninstall information files
Windows Defender Microsoft anti-malware program
Windows Journal Windows Journal program
Windows Kits Various tools
Windows Live Mail, Messenger, Photo Gallery, Writer programs
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 Phone Kits Phone kit files
Windows Photo Viewer Imaging Devices program
Windows Portable Devices SQM Client DLL
WindowsApps Application program for Windows 8 Start menu
WindowsPowershell Powershell Modules
WPF Toolkit Windows Presentation Foundation DLLs