Windows 10 Desktop App vs. Microsoft Store App: Which is better?

If you are an avid Windows OS user, you are used to downloading the software installer from the web and run it to install the application on your system. From Windows 8.1, Microsoft introduced a new way to install applications on the system in the form of the Microsoft Store.

Like Android and iOS users, Windows users can also directly search for their required apps on the Microsoft App Store and install them on their system in a single click.

However, when Microsoft Store was introduced, many traditional apps were unavailable, so users rarely visit it to get their applications. After the introduction of Windows 10, Microsoft has heavily invested in making its app store valuable. Today you will find many traditional desktop applications on the app store as well.

The main question is which apps are better, the traditional Windows 10 desktop apps or the new-gen Microsoft UWP apps? We will try to find the answer in this post.

What are Desktop Applications?

Desktop Applications are the classic Windows OS apps that use native Win32 / COM API or Microsoft .NET Framework API for communicating with the operating system. To use desktop applications, Windows users first need to download the dedicated installer from the internet and then launch it to install the application on the system. The software developed for Windows XP, Vista, or 7 can be purely categorized into Desktop applications. An example of a desktop app is Microsoft Office 2010. Since Win32 / COM API and Microsoft .NET Framework API are both supported in Windows 8, 8.1, and Windows 10 as well, therefore these OS are also compatible with the apps build for Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7.

What are Microsoft Store Apps?

The Microsoft Store Apps, also known as the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, are the next-gen apps that run only on Windows 8 and 10 OS. They were first introduced in Windows 8 as Metro-style apps. These apps are created in such a way that they are compatible with every Microsoft platform like PCs, Laptops, Tablets, and Smartphones. This is the reason they are called Universal Windows Platform apps.

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Why Microsoft needs to launch Microsoft App Store?

Since Windows 8 and 10 fully support the native desktop applications, the traditional Windows OS users might wonder why Microsoft requires introducing the App Store?

Before the launch of the Windows App Store in Windows 8 OS, all other major platforms already had a dedicated application store for their users. Android had Google Play Store, iOS and macOS has App Store, Samsung had Galaxy Store, Linux users have several dedicated repositories. Only Microsoft lacked behind in this. Being one of the top OS platforms, Microsoft was forced to follow the trend.

Another reason was to maintain uniformity across platforms. Now Microsoft need not create separate apps for its different platforms. This strategy was also cost-cutting in the longer term.

One more important purpose of introducing the Microsoft Store Apps was establishing a secure environment on the Windows OS. Since the UWP apps are verified by Microsoft, they don’t possess security threats.

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Desktop Apps vs. Microsoft Apps

If you are a long-term Windows OS user who is using desktop applications for years without any problem, you might question why you need to switch to the UWP apps if everything is working fine with the desktop apps. Are UWP apps providing something extra?

Let us compare both types of apps on different criteria to know which one is better.

Desktop AppsUWP Apps
Apps AvailabilityMore in numbersRelatively new, so lesser in number
SecurityLess secure as they can be downloaded from any unofficial sourcesMore secure because they are first checked and then listed on the Microsoft App Store
InterfaceTraditional interface which is click-friendlyModern interface with more emphasis on touch devices
Resource ConsumptionsConsume more resources as they are developed on older technologiesResource friendly as they are developed with modern technologies with proper optimization
InstallationNeed an installer for installing the appOne-click/tap installation from the app store
UpdateNeed manual monitoring for updatesGet automatically updated

Apps Availability

Desktop Apps: If we consider the availability factor, desktop apps are way ahead of UWP apps. The traditional Windows app developers are huge in number since the Windows XP days. You will find the desktop app variant of almost every utility apps and games.

UWP Apps: Back when Microsoft introduced UWP apps in Windows 8, they were very few in number, and most of them were not even resourceful enough. However, after the entrance of Windows 10, many traditional desktop app manufacturers launched their UWP version too on the Microsoft Store. Today you will find both versions of popular apps like Spotify, Skype, Netflix, and more. However, overall, Microsoft Store still lacks many traditionally available utility apps. It is because developers need to register themselves and pay a small amount to Microsoft to get their apps on the Microsoft Store. Many small developers might not find it worth, since old users still prefer desktop apps.

Security

Desktop Apps: The desktop apps are available on both official and unofficial websites. The ones available on the official platforms might be secure and free of any malware, but the same can’t be said for the ones available on unofficial sites. To infect the systems with malware, cybercriminals might create a duplicate version of a trusted app, insert the malicious links in it, and make it available for download. If a user downloads and installs it, the system might get infected with the malware. 

Other than that, all files of desktop apps are readily available after the installation. Anybody can easily modify these files leading to security issues. 

UWP Apps: One of the primary reasons Microsoft introduces UWP apps is the security. Before making the app available to download on the store, Microsoft makes sure that the apps are not fake or dangerous. Also, like Android apps, users have full control over granting permissions to UWP apps. 

Further, there is limited access to the files of UWP. Although users can decide on where to install them, they still cannot modify them.

Interface

Desktop Apps: Comparatively, the desktop apps would provide more navigations and features on their interface than UWP apps. The same app can have a different interface on desktop and UWP version. It is because desktop apps are meant only for Windows 10 computers. So they are more mouse-friendly.

UWP Apps: UWP apps have a more modern UI as compared to desktop apps. The interface and navigational buttons are more touch-friendly since the apps are meant for all Windows platforms. To a power user, the interface of UWP apps might disappoint since there are relatively fewer customization options.

Resource Consumptions

Desktop Apps: The same app may use more system resources with its desktop version than the UWP version. It is because the desktop version of the app is built on older technology.

UWP Apps: The UWP apps are made with modern technology. Since they are built for multiple platforms, the resource consumption is comparatively less.

Installation & Update

Desktop Apps: To install desktop apps, you either need to download them from the manufacturer’s official website or from the websites that provide a software downloading option. On desktop apps, either the app will notify you of the new update or check for updates manually. You can also get software updaters that can regularly check and update the applications for you. 

UWP Apps: UWP apps are readily available for download on the Microsoft Store. It is just a single click/touch process. UWP apps get more updates than desktop apps. More importantly, like Android and iPhone devices, you can enable the auto-update in UWP Apps so that you don’t have to worry about outdated apps any time.

Conclusion

After comparing both the apps, we cannot clearly decide the winner between Desktop Apps and UWP Apps. UWP Apps might get a little edge because of the security feature, modern design, and auto-updates. On the other hand, Desktop Apps will provide more customizations and usability for power users. If both versions are available for your favorite apps, you can use both simultaneously and choose the one that seems more comfortable.

As of now, there is no compulsion to use the UWP apps, so you can use the mix of both types of apps as per your preference. However, Microsoft is slowly pushing users towards the UWP apps. Some built-in Windows features such as Your Phone support, auto-launch feature, and others are only applicable for UWP apps. We have to wait to see what lies for the traditional Win32 apps in the future.

1. Are there any benefits of switching to UWP Apps?

The UWP apps are more beneficial for the touch-screen users as their UI is touch-friendly. They also update automatically. However, they lack some advanced features compared to traditional desktop apps.

2. Can a Windows Desktop app be touch-based?

YES. Software developers use an API named Windows Touch API to make traditional desktop apps touch-friendly.

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