Applications for UWP vs Win32: What They are and Main Differences

For decades, every time we needed to install an application on our Windows computer, it was normal to go to the Internet and look for a free application that offered us to do what we were looking for. However, over time we have seen how the software giant, Microsoft, has tried to impose the use of universal Windows applications, capable of working perfectly on any type of device on which Windows 10 runs, that is, computers , tablets, wearables or consoles. Next, we are going to show what Win32 and UWP applications are and what advantages or characteristics each of them offers us.

With the arrival of Windows 10 at the end of July 2015, those of Redmond opted for its universal platform for Windows 10 or what we know as UWP applications with the intention of leaving aside the applications of a lifetime or Win32. Now, what exactly are some applications and others and what characteristics or advantages does each one offer us.

Applications for UWP vs Win32

UWP Applications

UWP is an acronym for Universal Windows Platform , the new technology that the software giant proposed for the development of applications for devices with the latest version of the Microsoft operating system, although the platform was actually presented in Windows 8 for the first time as WinRT or Windows Runtime.

Now, with the arrival of the latest version of the Microsoft operating system, the Universal Windows Platform is presented, which continues the development of the system model at runtime and incorporates it into the unified Windows 10 kernel. As part of the kernel , UWP now provides a single common platform of applications capable of working properly on all devices running Windows 10 in any of its editions.


Main features of UWP applications


The UWP applications show the resources and data of devices to access for its correct operation such as access to the microphone, location, webcam, USB devices, files, etc. Now, the user will have to confirm and authorize these accesses or permissions before the application itself obtains the functionality.

Using a common API on all devices

UWP provides a common application platform on all devices running Windows 10. This means that the main APIs of the Universal Windows Platform are the same on any device with the Microsoft operating system, regardless of whether it is a desktop computer. , a tablet, a game console (Xbox), a virtual reality headset, a weareable, etc.

They adapt to any device

A UWP application can use device specific functionalities and adapt the user interface to any screen size and resolution. For this, developers have the extension SDKs, which allow calling specialized APIs for different types of devices. In other words, if a developer wants to create an application for UWP, they can add the IoT extension SDK to their project to control the specific characteristics or functions of IoT devices.

Available from Microsoft Store

UWP apps are available from a unified store, the Microsoft Store. Therefore, it is the only site that we can go to to download this type of applications, regardless of whether they are available for PC, Xbox, Surface, IoT devices, etc.

Each developer can send their applications to the Store and indicate if they are available for some devices or others. In addition, they are integrated with Application Insights to be analyzed and know their telemetry.

Easy and safe installation and uninstallation

All applications for UWP are distributed through a packaging system that offers certain security for users and great simplicity in the installation and uninstallation processes. In addition, the packaging system itself protects both the system and the equipment or device itself and the user.

Applications for UWP can be installed quickly and easily and uninstalled without a trace, only the files that we have created with them and everything in a very automatic way and without having to erase any trace of the application manually.

Full integration into Windows 10 and its features

The integration in the system of the applications for UWP is total since they allow push notifications that can offer us information in real time, the activity center organizes the notifications themselves from the application, allow them to run in the background, they can use their voice and Bluetooth devices, it is even possible to integrate Cortana to add voice command functionality as well as recovery via the Windows 10 timeline.

Win32 Applications

We could say that Win32 applications are those that we have been using practically all our lives, those that we know as desktop applications. It is a type of application that offers support for x86 architectures and Intel and AMD processors. These types of applications are installed through an executable file that can have different formats such as .exe, which is perhaps the most common.

At the moment of their installation, the applications are included in the list of applications that are shown in the Control Panel> Features and programs, being this system characteristic the one that allows their uninstallation.

Today there are millions of Win32 applications, both free and paid, for commercial or private use and that offer all kinds of functionalities to meet the needs of any user.

Main features of Win32 applications


Although desktop applications are most often run with limited permissions, the user can later grant administrative permissions. So much so, that even certain applications can only be run correctly if we do it with the maximum permissions.

Designed for the desktop

As its name suggests, Win32 applications work perfectly on the PC and are able to perfectly interact with the most common peripherals connected to the computer depending on their capabilities, such as keyboard, mouse, printers, etc. However, they are not usually intended for use in equipment with touch screens.

Different sources for your installation

We can find Win32 applications on the developers’ own pages, software websites, application stores, etc. In addition, we can install this type of applications from local, an external storage unit or even from the cloud. Furthermore, these types of applications can be distributed by any means and with different types of licenses.

We can run multiple instances of the same application

Another noteworthy feature of this type of applications is that they allow us to run multiple instances of the same tool simultaneously on our desktop. That is, we can have the same application open on the same computer several times.

However, it is important to also say that one of the workhorses of Win32 applications is their execution and operation on ARM processors, since they are designed to work on Intel and AMD processors.

Win32 applications vs UWP applications

At this point, we can already assess what are the main differences between one type of application and another, advantages that Win32 offer us with respect to those developed for UWP and what are some of the drawbacks of each of them.

We can start by saying that to search or get an application that allows us to do something in particular, we can only go to the Microsoft Store in the case of UWPs if we have Windows 8 or Windows 10, while Win32 applications are usually compatible with most of versions of the Microsoft system and we can download them from the developer’s website and many other sites that we can find on the Internet. Therefore, with Win32 we do not depend on the Microsoft environment or the control that the company itself makes over all the applications available in its Store.

However, this also implies that the applications for UWP have been analyzed to verify what type of permissions it requests and must be accepted for its correct operation, which is more difficult to control and know in Win32 applications.

This also influences the installation and uninstallation process . While UWP apps are basically installed and uninstalled with one click from the Microsoft Store itself, Win32 apps may require a more complex installation process and will have to be uninstalled from the system control panel.

When deleting an application from the Windows store, the process itself will erase any trace of it, something that we will have to do ourselves with the desktop applications, since they can leave a trace on the computer with the simple done uninstalling them.

Updates to the desktop applications are up to the developer, while the UWP applications are updated at the rate set by Redmond. Microsoft has its store apps monitored and controlled in every way, something it doesn’t have about third-party developer apps outside its store and environment.

If what we are looking for in a tool that we can use or continue to use on different devices such as a computer, tablet, wearable, etc., then the solution is to use one of the UWP applications, since they can work on any device, even with touch screens, game consoles…, since the desktop applications are simply for the desktop.

Now, another detail to take into account is that a Win32 application can allow us to open two instances at the same time on the same computer despite the fact that they are not integrated in the same way in the system as applications for the universal platform do. Windows. And it is that the latter are capable of displaying notifications on the desktop, integrated in the activity center, even integrating with Cortana to use voice commands, for example.