What's the Wow6432Node under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE registry subkey?

A. The Wow6432 registry entry indicates that you're running a 64-bit version of Windows. The OS uses this key to present a separate view of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE for 32-bit applications that run on a 64-bit version of Windows. When a 32-bit application queries a value under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\<company>\<product> subkey, the application reads from the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\<company>\<product> subkey.

The figure below shows the structure under Wow6432Node that 32-bit applications will see. A "registry reflector" copies certain values between the 32-bit and 64-bit registry views (e.g., mainly for COM registration) and resolves any conflicts using a last-writer-wins approach.

Learn more about good uses for the Registry Editor (REGEDT32.EXE) and The Rise of the 64-Bit System.

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