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.exe is a common
filename extension A filename extension, file extension or file type is an identifier specified as a suffix to the name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either un ...
denoting an
executable file In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and softw ...
(the main execution point of a
computer program A computer program is a collection of instructions that can be executed by a computer to perform a specific task. A computer program is usually written by a computer programmer in a programming language A programming language is a formal ...
) for
Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several Proprietary software, proprietary graphical user interface, graphical operating system families, all of which are developed and marketed by Microsoft. Each family caters ...
.


File formats

There are numerous
file formats File:Boogie riff 1.ogg, ogg-file: 154 kilobytes. A file format is a Computer standard, standard way that information is encoded for storage in a computer file. It specifies how bits are used to encode information in a digital storage medium. Fil ...
which may be used by a file with a extension:


DOS

;16-bit DOS MZ executable:The original DOS executable file format. These formats can be identified by the letters "MZ" at the beginning of the file in ASCII. All later formats have an MZ DOS stub header. ;16-bit New Executable: Introduced with the multitasking MS-DOS 4.0 and also used by 16-bit
OS/2 OS/2 is a series of computer operating systems, initially created by Microsoft and IBM under the leadership of IBM software designer Ed Iacobucci. As a result of a feud between the two companies over how to position OS/2 relative to Microsoft's ...
and Windows, NE can be identified by the "NE" in ASCII.


OS/2

;32-bit Linear Executable: Introduced with OS/2 2.0, these can be identified by the "LX" in ASCII. These can only be run by OS/2 2.0 and higher. They are also used by some DOS extenders. ;Mixed 16/32-bit Linear Executable: Introduced with OS/2 2.0, these can be identified by the "LE" in ASCII. This format is used for VxD drivers under Windows 3.x,
OS/2 OS/2 is a series of computer operating systems, initially created by Microsoft and IBM under the leadership of IBM software designer Ed Iacobucci. As a result of a feud between the two companies over how to position OS/2 relative to Microsoft's ...
, and
Windows 9x Windows 9x is a generic term referring to a series of Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several Proprietary software, proprietary graphical user interface, graphical operating system famili ...
; it is also used by some DOS extenders.


Windows

When a 16-bit or 32-bit Windows executable is run by Windows, execution starts at either the NE or the PE, and ignores the MZ code known as DOS stub. Started in DOS the stub typically displays a message "This program cannot be run in DOS mode" (or similar) before exiting cleanly, this thereby constituting a minimal form of fat binary. A few dual-mode programs (MZ-NE or MZ-PE) such as regedit and older WinZIP self extractors include a more functional DOS section. ;32-bit
Portable Executable The Portable Executable (PE) format is a file format ogg-file: 154 kilobytes. A file format is a standard way that information is encoded for storage in a computer file. It specifies how bits are used to encode information in a digital st ...
: Introduced with Windows NT, these can be identified by the "PE" in ASCII (although not at the beginning; these files also begin with "MZ"). ;64-bit Portable Executable (PE32+): Introduced by 64-bit versions of Windows, this is a PE file with wider fields. In most cases, code can be written to simply work as either a 32 or 64-bit PE file.


IExpress

IExpress is Windows program that makes self-extracting .exe files. It uses self-extraction directive (.sed) files to extract files, optionally running an installation command. It supports package titles, confirmation prompts, license agreements, and post-install commands using an .inf file.


Other

Besides these, there are also many custom EXE formats, including but not limited to ''W3'' (a collection of LE files, only used in WIN386.EXE), ''W4'' (a compressed collection of LE files, only used in VMM32.VXD), ''DL'', ''MP'', ''P2'', ''P3'' (last three used by Phar Lap (company), Phar Lap extenders).


See also

* Comparison of executable file formats * Executable compression * * CMD file (CP/M) * Windows Installer files (msi)


References


Further reading

*


External links


Dependency Walker

MZ EXE header format
{{Executables DOS files DOS technology Executable file formats Filename extensions Windows administration