For member function arguments that take character sequences representing paths and for member functions returning strings, value type and encoding conversion is performed if the value type of the argument or return value differs from path::value_type. For the argument or return value, the method of conversion and the encoding to be converted to is determined by its value type:
char: The encoding is the native narrow encoding ([fs.def.native.encode]). The method of conversion, if any, is operating system dependent. [ Note: For POSIX-based operating systems path::value_type is char so no conversion from char value type arguments or to char value type return values is performed. For Windows-based operating systems, the native narrow encoding is determined by calling a Windows API function. — end note ] [ Note: This results in behavior identical to other C and C++ standard library functions that perform file operations using narrow character strings to identify paths. Changing this behavior would be surprising and error prone. — end note ]
wchar_t: The encoding is the native wide encoding. The method of conversion is unspecified. [ Note: For Windows-based operating systems path::value_type is wchar_t so no conversion from wchar_t value type arguments or to wchar_t value type return values is performed. — end note ]
char16_t: The encoding is UTF-16. The method of conversion is unspecified.
char32_t: The encoding is UTF-32. The method of conversion is unspecified.