3 Reasons to Download Windows Desktop Apps From the Microsoft Store

Joel Lee 24-11-2017

Installing software on Windows can be such a pain. This is one area where other operating systems are objectively better thanks to options like Mac App Store installations and Linux package managers. Windows, at best, relies on bulk installation apps like Ninite How To Install & Uninstall Windows Programs In Bulk A mass installer or uninstaller can save you heaps of time. Remember the last time you set up a new computer? We are going to teach you how to do these tasks in a flash. Read More . But that could change over the next few years.


If you’re a Windows user, now might be a good time to start installing apps through the Microsoft Store (formerly Windows Store) instead of the traditional method of downloading individual installers. You may feel an aversion to even the idea of this, but hear me out! There are several benefits that you should really consider.

Desktop Apps vs. UWP Apps

Desktop apps are standalone applications written and compiled specifically for the Windows PC platform. They rely on underlying Windows APIs that are only available on PC versions of the operating system (OS), which means greater control and flexibility but less portability and security. Even with UAC protections, desktop apps can sometimes perform shady or unwanted actions.

Because desktop apps are standalone, you have to install them with installer files. You can learn more about this in our comparison of desktop vs. UWP apps Desktop vs. Microsoft Store Apps: Which Should You Download? Should you get your Windows apps from the Microsoft Store, or use traditional desktop programs? Here are the main differences. Read More .

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft introduced Universal Windows Apps (UWA), colloquially known as “Metro apps” or “Modern apps.” UWAs were designed to address three main issues: consistency, portability, and security. UWAs all adhered to the same Metro/Modern aesthetic design, could run on desktop and mobile versions of Windows, and operated in a sandbox to limit potential damage from malware infections.

In Windows 10, Microsoft took the idea even further and ended up with the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). The UWP makes it possible for a developer to create one app that runs on multiple platforms — in this case, every device that can run Windows 10 also supports the Universal Windows Platform, meaning they can run UWP apps.


Microsoft Store Windows 10 UWP Apps

What’s the difference between UWAs and UWP apps?

From a developer’s perspective, a UWA requires separate projects per platform (e.g. Windows PC and Windows Mobile) with another “shared code” project that acts as the foundation for those platform-specific projects, whereas a UWP app is a single project that runs on any device that supports the Universal Windows Platform (e.g. Xbox One).

From an end user’s perspective, there’s no real difference. Both UWAs and UWP apps are only obtainable through the Microsoft Store. If you’re on Windows 10, only UWP apps are relevant.


Universal Windows Platform Developer Package
Image Credit: Windows Blog

One thing to note is that Microsoft introduced a tool called Desktop Bridge back in 2016. Desktop Bridge provides developers an easy way to convert existing desktop apps and desktop games into UWP apps. When converted, once-desktop-now-UWP apps run exactly as they did before, except they gain access to some UWP features (e.g. Live Tiles).

In most cases, the code barely needs to be touched in order for the conversion to work, which is why we’re seeing more and more desktop apps being made available as UWP apps. Notable example apps that have done this include iTunes, Spotify, WhatsApp, Krita, and Kodi.

So if converted desktop apps are pretty much the same as UWP apps, why should you switch over to the UWP versions? Here are three big reasons.


1. Installation Convenience

For many, being able to install apps through a central portal sounds like a minor benefit at best. But let me tell you, this is one of those things that seem mundane on paper but prove immeasurably useful on a day-to-day basis.

If you’ve ever used Mac or Linux, or even Android or iOS, then you know what I’m talking about. Need a new app for whatever reason? Load up the App Store, the Play Store, or your package manager of choice. Search for an app. Select and install. Done!

Microsoft Store Compatible Windows 10 UWP Apps

One could argue that it’s no different than searching on Google and downloading per normal, but it is. You no longer risk ending up at an impersonating site, nor do you have to worry about ending up at a wrong URL that hosts an outdated version of the app. Plus, there’s no more need to collect and store installer files, which helps free up disk space 6 Tips to Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10 Even a terabyte of storage space is quickly filled with media files. Here we'll show you how to easily free up gigabytes of disk space in Windows 10 by removing redundant system files. Read More .


2. Automatic Updates

One of the nice perks of using a UWP app is that it’s tied to the Microsoft Store, and this means that whenever the Store’s app listing gets updated to a new version, your app automatically receives the update. The Store handles it for you.

Microsoft Store Windows 10 UWP App Updates

To be fair, many standalone desktop apps have their own auto-updating features, so this isn’t a widespread issue. But many standalone desktops don’t have it, and those are the ones that can be problematic — especially when security holes get patched How & Why You Need To Install That Security Patch Read More and you have no way of knowing unless you visit the app’s website.

3. Improved Security

Perhaps the most practical benefit is that UWP apps run in a sandbox environment. This means that each app has boundaries and can’t access system resources unless permissions are given. This prevents shady behavior, such as tampering with drivers, interacting with hardware, or modifying system-level files.

3 Reasons to Download Windows Desktop Apps From the Microsoft Store microsoft store app security

UWP apps also need approval from Microsoft. While this isn’t foolproof (remember when rogue apps ran rampant?), the situation has greatly improved and the Microsoft Store is a much cleaner place than it was back in 2014. You’re way less likely to come across dangerous apps now, which can’t be said if you use software download sites The 7 Worst Places for Downloading Windows Software Software can be packed with bloatware and worse, malware. You can catch malware, if you download your tools from the wrong source. These are the sites you should avoid... Read More .

Why Aren’t You Using UWP Apps Yet?

There are two, possibly three, drawbacks to using UWP apps.

First, Microsoft takes a cut of any of that app’s Store revenue (for acting as the distributor). Second, UWP apps may have restricted functionality depending on how deeply into the system they need to interact. And third, you have to use the Microsoft Store, which is poorly designed and buggy.

If you’re still skeptical, check out these useful UWP apps worth trying 12 Neglected Windows 10 Apps & Why You Must Try Them You might be unaware of many default apps in Windows 10 or you underestimated their usefulness. We have compiled a dozen apps that can transform the way you work and we'll show you how. Read More . Even if you don’t switch over right away, keep UWP apps on your radar. This is one feature you should NOT ignore 5 Windows 10 Features You Should Stop Using Soon Microsoft is cleaning up! Many Windows features will be removed or deprecated. See which key features you should replace before your next Windows upgrade. Read More , especially since desktop apps will continue converting in the years to come.

Are you convinced? If not, what’s keeping you from using UWP apps? Are there any other benefits or drawbacks we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Related topics: Install Software, Windows 10, Windows Store.

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    December 15, 2017 at 1:27 pm


  2. Frustrated reader from Denmark
    November 28, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Just finished reading // by the same author. I quote "There are so many reasons not to use the Windows Store. The lack of many important and popular apps is a huge downside, but there’s also a plethora of dead and abandoned apps that simply don’t work anymore...... But most of all, it seems as if the Windows Store isn’t as impervious to malware as once hoped..."

    Then I find THIS article....

    So he can just completely change his opinion and not have to acknowledge it....

  3. Irritated Tech
    November 27, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Another article written by the clueless. Seriously dude 100% of my apps for both work and personal does not exist in windows app store. And lord help if you need to customize the install.

  4. Cole
    November 26, 2017 at 9:47 am

    I can think of a million reasons exe installer apps are still better than UWP apps. But I'll give just a few
    1. Download one app installer and install on several devices without having to use internet.

    2. Downloading installers with a download manager is a thousand times faster than using the store's downloader. With a better "pause/play download" feature.

    3. Cracking (might not go down well with some people), but one is the reasons Microsoft (Windows) has experienced successes (till date) is the ability for premium apps to be cracked (especially for students/enthusiasts etc).

    P.S: quite frankly, I do not want UWP to become a 'thing', that Microsoft gets any ideas to scrap exe installers.
    If having a store is so pertinent (per the security reason started), MS could implement an exe store

  5. Steve
    November 25, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    //Even with UAC protections, desktop apps can sometimes perform shady or unwanted actions.//

    Like resetting all your security and privacy settings like MS has a habit of doing when it updates the OS?

    The simple fact is that MS has shown time and time again it cannot be trusted with user settings, to the point they have now been warned by the Dutch (?) government.

    MS being concerned about user security would be laudable if they did not ride roughshod over the end user.

    //One of the nice perks of using a UWP app is that it’s tied to the Microsoft Store, and this means that whenever the Store’s app listing gets updated to a new version, your app automatically receives the update. //

    Except for most apps I use I don't need or want auto update (AV and firewall aside) as I want to check they are not going to break anything before I do. Most software already comes with this option of auto update so it is hardly a selling point.

  6. Jay
    November 25, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Honestly, I am not one to be harsh on critics but this article is a complete nonsense. First things first, I hate the "modern" app aesthetics that windows uses now for most of its system's settings and other stuff, it takes longer to open and makes things harder to find, especially things that were always found on the same settings screen. Although, I do prefer the new Bluetooth settings, it's easier to use. But I am using a computer, not a smartphone and I don't want all my software to look like smartphone apps.
    Second, installers have never been hard to use or find, and you don't have to store then. You can erase then after installing the software and you are done.
    Third, automatic updates have been a thing for years on most if not all software you are going to use.
    Fourth, security might be the only real advantage that you got right. But I can count on the finger of one hand the number of times I had a virus or other security problems (actually, I'd only need 2 fingers). Have an antivirus and don't download from untrusted sources, it's not hard.
    Now, for the problems you didn't list:
    1 - Open source - sure, not every software I use is open source, but I like the idea behind them and the apps from the store aren't open source
    2 - Price - now Microsoft gets money for not doing anything for the apps. All the software you could download for free or even the ones that you need to pay for now have to pay for Microsoft to be apps. And the free ones will have a ton of adds like the Android ones. No, thank you.
    3 - Monopoly - we face a huge, HUGE, problem with our internet becoming the property of big corporations like Google, Microsoft and Facebook. They have the power to control everything you can do on the internet because they have the power to know everything you do on the internet. And we are the ones giving this power, we are the ones giving them all the information they need willingly in exchange for a bit of convenience. I don't want the softwares I use to be controlled by Microsoft. I prefer to let those softwares and their creators to be free as the internet is supposed to be.

    • Arlo
      November 25, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      UWP apps can be open source just like any other app on any other platform. That's up to the dev

    • Arlo
      November 25, 2017 at 11:30 pm

      UWP apps can be open source just like any other app that has source code. It's up to the devs

  7. marni
    November 25, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    I read about the new Photos app, with Video Remix. Even crippled (typical MS: overpromise, underdeliver) it tantalized. So, an old Windows 7 holdout, i finally upgraded. Guess what, even post Creators Update, it was inacessible. It seemed to be on my hard drive but i couldn't reach it. Once it linked to Windows Store, to present its splash screen, but it was non-downloadable and non-usable! WTF?! So no Photos. Had to wonder what else was mangled...
    My whole W10 trial lasted about 30 minutes. After one hard drive swap that turned off my activation i realized its security/anti-piracy was set at the WE-COULD-CARE-LESS-ABOUT-OUR-FRIENDLY-FIRE level. That and a few other issues i won't bore you with had me uninstalling it and appreciating the mediocre W7 even more.

  8. Tallyn Morse
    November 25, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    1. Installing programs is really easy and not simplified by windows apps. 2. Most programs have automatic updates to you just need to open to program it do it. 3. You should not download programs you don’t trust anyway so there is no need for extra security!

  9. Frank Paiano
    November 25, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I am doing my best to rid myself of Windows forever. Almost all documents are in Google Docs already. Just have a couple of more applications to go. I will never trust Microsoft again.

  10. Pezz
    November 25, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    I stopped trying a few years ago because these aps are sloooooooow. To load, to open, to use

    • Arlo
      November 25, 2017 at 11:31 pm

      Not anymore

  11. John Curtiss
    November 25, 2017 at 3:39 am

    There's no windows mobile, and I have no use for visual studio on my Xbox. Portability schmortability. Any third party developing a serious windows app is developing it for the desktop because modern/metro has not recovered from the windows 8 debacle. Hell, even the desktop (micro) Skype app has always been light years better than the metro version.

    November 25, 2017 at 2:06 am

    good softwere

  13. Milo H
    November 25, 2017 at 12:04 am

    My store doesn't even work. Can't even update installed apps. It's garbage

  14. Jyle
    November 24, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    I don't use UWP because the apps I want aren't available or they don't have the Chromecast button in them (Netflix and Pandora).

  15. Jyle
    November 24, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    The lack of the Chromecast button in UWP apps like Pandora and Netflix kill their usefulness for me. Once CC is available I'll have no reason to but use UWP.

  16. Anonymous Windows User
    November 24, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Although I can think of another hundred reasons to get fu*king annoyed of installing anything from store. Top reasons are:
    1. The search results are ridiculous.
    2. The store itself is bullsh*t, downloading an app feels like ordering a pizza.
    3. So many top apps are not even available in store(I know not yet)
    4. The landing page of a single app is like an index of an old dictionary. Maybe everything's there, you just have to find it by yourself.

  17. Guillem
    November 24, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Why Aren’t You Using UWP Apps Yet?
    Because the software that I use is not available.

    • Tonin
      November 25, 2017 at 12:15 am

      Its bullshit thats why, hype

      • Yooki
        July 4, 2018 at 8:37 pm

        That's a horrible thing to say! Give Microsoft a chance for goodness sake. Who else is giving you such a beautiful operating system?