Do you prefer downloading apps from the Microsoft Store or the old-fashioned way?

Built into Windows 10 is an app store called the "Microsoft Store" that houses all kinds of content, including games, movies, TV shows, books, devices, and indeed apps. Apps are easily the most prominent part of the Microsoft Store on Windows 10, and rightly so. Microsoft has been working hard on getting popular and important apps into its store, including desktop apps old and new.

It's been a few years since Windows 10 first launched now, so I'm curious as to whether anyone has shifted from going to the web to download their apps, to going to the Store and doing it instead. I have, because downloading apps from the Microsoft Store is just so much easier (AND safer) than grabbing an installer from the web. Not everyone seems to prefer the Microsoft Store, however.

It's worth noting that we're talking strictly apps, not games. Games are a different type of content aimed at a different user base, and right now most gamers prefer downloading their games from Steam. I personally prefer the Microsoft Store, but that's a poll for another time. Today, we're just focused on apps.

There are still lots of people out there who do not like the Microsoft Store, and much prefer being able to install programs via an installer that can be customized. Of course, there are benefits to each method, but the Microsoft Store route is easier and safer. Plus, apps that come from the Microsoft Store remain up to date via the Microsoft Store, so you don't have you open the app and check for updates manually every time.

At the same time, you trade being able to go in and manually edit program files, something power users might want to tinker around with depending on the app. Some people don't use the Microsoft Store because they don't want to support the "closed wall garden" mantra that it entails, or because they don't have a Microsoft Account or use one with their Windows 10 install. I think using a Microsoft Account is worth it for the ability to install apps from the Microsoft Store alone.

I think a lot of users upgrading from Windows 7 still prefer downloading apps from the web, because it's what they're used to. If you're just used to it, I highly suggest trying to break that habit and instead download your apps from the Store, if they're available that it. One-click download and install is so easy, and since the apps remain up to date in the background, you don't have to worry about keeping them up to date!

Microsoft is putting a lot of emphasis on the Microsoft Store as of late, with things like Windows 10 S really pushing Microsoft's vision for a version of Windows that is completely secure. The Microsoft Store isn't going away, so if you're not using it, it might be worth giving it a try sooner rather than later, you'll probably really like it.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • The only issue I have with the store is large apps like games take a million years to download. Other than that if it's on the store I prefer that route than downloading a random unsigned exe.
  • As opposed to downloading a large game from steam? Wouldn't the size be the same? Or are you saying that the download rate is slower from the Microsoft store? I just downloaded Photoshop Elements from the store the other day which is 4GB and it wasn't that bad.
  • The download rate from the Store is not good at all. I get 100Mb/s from the MS Store. From Steam I get double that and could well get more I imagine if my internet connection didn't top out at 200Mb/s. That's half speed. If I had to download my whole Steam library for a full fresh install from the MS Store it would take twice as long! Doubling the download time is not at all great. If MS want to focus on the cloud and their servers, perhaps they'd do well to hire Valve as consultants?
  • I agree with you. The download speed from the store is like Microsoft is stuck in the 90's. That's why I prefer my games from steam.
  • You've got pretty high expectations.
  • I have the opposite situation.
    Downloaded a large game on steam last month, it only reached 13MB/s, while another one from the MS store downloaded at 60MB/s.
    What bothers me about MS Stores downloaded is the initialisation time...
  • maybe... the MsStore's CDN is closer to you... and it take times for CDN to acquire the file for the 1st time?
  • Steam does a much better job at resuming in progress downloads. Example - Forza 7 is about a 100gb download. I have horrible crappy rural internet. I have to pause the download when trying to do other things then let it run over night. With the Windows store it will "forget" where it is in the DL and basically start it over again. I have downloaded Forza fully numerous times, but because the store doesn't resume correctly it doesn't always continue the download, but restart it. I had about 300gb in the app delivery folder that I had to delete. I had to give up on trying to download Forza as it was too much of a hassle. I have never once had a resume issue with steam, no matter how long I resumed after pausing. I love store apps and games and that is by far my preferred method of installing, but it is not a great experience for big downloads (for me) right now.
  • I prefer the Microsoft Store. Additionally, when investigating products and services, I will not consider a vendor unless they have an app available in the Store.
  • Kinda same here. The store is very an easier and usually verified affair
  • same here
  • For apps like the official Windows Central app, Instagram, Facebook, Spotify and others, I definitely prefer the Windows Store since it gives my PC that "mobile device-like" feel and it's fast and convenient, in addition to having built-in power-saving features when I'm on battery power. However, the option to install (mainly Win32 apps) the old fashioned way should still remain for both hardcore users and for people like me who depend on such apps for work (I use productivity apps for translation work..e.g. Memsource, SDL Trados Studio, MemoQ, all of which are not [yet] in the Microsoft Store) and until they are listed officially on the Microsoft Store, I will still need to sideload them to use them.
  • Wish MS would do more to get some financial software in the store. Even just desktop bridge versions of Quickbooks, Quicken, Turbo Tax, Tax Act, or H&R Block would be appreciated. Millions of small business still use the Windows PC versions of these. Of course I’d love to see a UWP version of Mint return. But en lieu of that... I guess something is better than nothing. After all Windows is supposed to be about productivity. And what is more productive than personal and small business finance? Would help soften MS’ new image that it’s not just turning into an Enterprise only, large corporation, shill. That maybe it still cares about the little guy, the startup, the sole prop, and wants to help them be productive too?
  • @OnTheSurface, great point. Frankly, I'd like to see MS work harder with the big developers, including Intuit, to get the major applications into the Store. Intuit has always seemed to be highly challenged technically (feels like they buy an application, lay off all the developers, then spend forever after struggling to support it and keep it current with a skeleton crew of outsourced developers), so maybe they really are not able to get Quicken and QuickBooks into the Store, but that should be MS' goal. Same for AutoCAD, Adobe's products, Corel's products (including WordPerfect), all of their own apps, etc. I know many of these have fewer users than mobile apps, but they are the programs that make Windows valuable and essential to its users. Put them in the Store and it goes a long way to shifting the perspective on the purpose of the Store.
  • You're going to have a hard time getting big name developers on board. They realize that if the Windows Store grows and becomes the de facto method for getting programs onto a Windows computer, they will lose most of the power over software distribution and associated revenue streams. I don’t think many developers want to volunteer for that.
  • @bj2386, most developers do not also run significant delivery systems (like Steam) or retail outlets (like Amazon or Walmart). Certainly, the lion's share of major software developers just assume have their products available in as many locations as possible. The inertia against the store is not over a strategic reluctance to cede power to MS (which putting an app in the Store doesn't do any more than having it Amazon does), but rather the change in development practices and adding a new distribution channel that's alien to them. Most of those big titles are also not available in the App Store or on Google Play, purely because the customers who spend money in those stores are buying for devices that don't work with those kinds of applications. That doesn't apply with the Microsoft Store. And with MS taking a cut no larger than Amazon or Walmart take for their retail sales, there's no real strategic downside for the majority of developers. It's just inertia. And that's where MS could come in and do something more to get these guys to put their software on the Store. For their part, MS is probably sensitive to not alienating their own retail channels by competing too hard against them, so they're likely reluctant to push hard on this, but hopefully that's going to start to change now.
  • In my personal life, I have made it my goal to try and go "store only." Even going so far as to abandon Adobe products in favor of Sketchable and Affinity's offerings. It has worked well for me so far. Even fixing some rather disturbing high CPU usage issues I was having in build 1803. It isn't perfect yet, but it is almost a complete solution. My professional life will have none of that nonsense of course.
  • Affinity photo is pretty good and according to a friend of mine who uses photoshop for a living, affinity is better than Photoshop in some ways and she would even think of using it instead of paying Adobe silly amounts of money each month if people was not snobs. They expect her to use Adobe products, even if she can get the same results with different software. But she uses a MAc so would not use the store. i have got Affinity myself, but i did not download it from the store, it was not available from the store at the time and I doubt i would have got it from the store even if it was.
  • Agreed. Affinity really surprised my. Photo was great and within 2 days, I knew I wanted Designer too. It has been a breath of fresh air. Yes there are growing pains, but overall, a great experience. For me, the fact that it was available in store was a defining reason for doing it.
  • I prefer the store, not only for all the benefits listed but because after setting up a new PC all I have to do is go to my Library and quickly download everything I had previously used.
  • I like to use the MS Store (Windows Phone and WMR user) but I also use the traditional method. Love the store, but I want a choice of stores, I do not want to be forced to use a single vendor for both competition reasons and because if MS decide to drop the store and UWP apps like they did with GFWL and the W8/WP8 app system (on the way out now...) and all my eggs are in one basket I lose the lot. For example I have bought SoD2 from the store and love it, but I do not want i.e. my whole games library with one provider. No, not even Steam. What concerns me with MS is that they seem to want to abandon the idea of a competitive environment in favour of one store run by themselves, when they are the least reliable of the digital services providers I have experienced. Not acceptable. The day they release a main version of Windows that refuses all but their own Store apps is the day I refuse to update Windows ever again.
  • Windows 10 has the ability to sideload appx bundles (UWP apps) outside of the Windows store pretty much from the start as default, it's always had an option for sideloading, developer or secure windows store only for UWP. That said, there is nothing stopping anyone from bundling their UWP game or app as an appx bundle and providing downloads from a 3rd party store, even something like steam could do it if they wanted to. Certainly if you go on github's UWP-Open-Source-Community (google that - Windows central seems to ban my comments with links in them) there are a lot of opensource programs that can be installed from GitHub, that are appx bundled UWP programs. Most have been signed with the OSC certificate as well, so you know where they're actually from too.
  • A store is better. Apps are in one place. They get upgraded when upgrades are pushed out, no redownloading to get get an upgrade, going to a new device you can much easier download your apps through the store then find them individually on the web.
  • Automatic updates are my big reason. Sure some non-Store apps notify you when you need to update, but most still require you to click on a couple things, close the app, wait a few minutes, then you can use it again. I never think about updates for most software now. As somebody else also commented here, another good selling point is synchronizing across devices. New machine? Just click download for them all again, no digging for old license codes to prove that you did indeed buy it 4 years ago and haven't looked at it since. The only product key I need to remember now is Adobe, but that's just because I've got an old CS6, not a CC subscriber. Lots of tools I still need to go to the web installer, but it's always the second option.
  • They really need to give better management to purchases and library, it's pretty useless as the staple go to place if you can't find the stuff you're trying to find there.
    At the very minimum they need a favorites option for applications you've, well favorited. There are a few apps that I've purchased on the store, one is a movie editor at the tune of $50 and I can never remember the name of it, but I don't have it installed all the time, certainly not after a format/clean install so it's a ball ache to try and find it again. As someone who has been a long time Windows store user, I have a heck of a lot of apps and games that means loading the 'My Library' and worse still 'Show all' options in the Microsoft store takes far longer than it should. And of course there is always Candy Crush at the top, and a load of xbox games I can't even install on my PC listed. At least I don't own a Windows Phone anymore so that doesn't get smashed into the listings as well anymore.
  • 100% the store . Safer, faster, more reliable .
  • I prefer Windows Store; it's safer and apps are auto updated. However, updates are late usually in comparing to direct download.
  • I never use the Store. Most of the software I use isn't there anyway, and why bother with the Store when I've been downloading software from vendors' websites for years?
  • Absolutely, hands down prefer the Store. For me, the auto-updating is the killer benefit. I HATE when a program says, "A newer version is available. Would you like to download it now?" because generally clicking "Yes" just opens a web browser to download, then install. Wastes minutes of my time per app every month (or more frequently in some cases). Worse, because this pop-up appears when I open the app, it slows me down when I'm trying to get work done, so I can't even plan a time every week to handle updates. Grrrr..... The Store cures this. I'd like to see MS announce major apps releasing Store versions just like they announce new apps achieving Xbox One backward compatibility. Remaining apps I used frequently that I wish I could get from the Store: * nVidia driver updater
    * PuTTY, including the keygen support (the alternative SSH programs in the Store don't seem very good)
    * WinSCP (they just released a Store version, but charge $9.99 for it, vs. free for non-Store version and no ratings yet in the Store, so not sure I want to be the guinea pig for the Store version at that price)
    * Mp3tag (developer told me he's working on a Windows Store version)
    * Audacity
    * Quickbooks
    * CorelDraw Suite
    * Calibre ebook editor
    * Cloudberry Explorer for working with S3 buckets on Amazon AWS
    * Microsoft Teams
    * Skype for Business (Lync is available through the Store if you downloaded it in the past, but seems not to be for new users, and it's still the old Windows 8 app)
    * Popcap Games like Plants vs. Zombies (is in the Store for Windows Phone but not for Windows PC) If those were all in the Store, I could even get by with Windows S on many of my systems. While that may seem like a long list, there are at least as many of my key apps that are available through the Store, like Office, Slack, Skype, To-Do, TuneIn, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Notepad++, plus all the little things like News, Weather, games (e.g., Minecraft implementation through the Store is perfect, fully supporting parental controls for on-device management and even local networking -- much easier than the Kindle Store with Kids accounts), etc.
  • Yess....I'll choose store if I need to download the app at any point of installation.....1 click install is way better than open browser....go to site...dwnld exe n then install.
    As long as I don't have an offline installer with is better.
  • I wouldn't have a problem using the Store, but if an app is available on the Store and as a download, the Store version usually isn't as good. Verizon's Message+ app recently went Store only, and it doesn't work very well, nowhere near as well as the downloaded app did. Skype is another one where the Store app barely worked, but the downloaded app did.
  • I download from the web strictly because the store takes a ridiculously long time to even load up! Seriously MS what is the deal, should be as fast as opening a web browser...smh
  • That sounds like you may have a problem in need of troubleshooting. It's all instant for me, much faster than a browser.
  • My biggest gripe is the lack of backups. I constantly reinstall and having to redownload to install is time consuming.
  • I have little interest in the store, it is the start of a fenced operating system, I prefer to get the software I use from websites. I have had a peak at the store and that is about it,
  • As much as I love the windows store and it's my preferred method of downloading I still feel like the store is still missing a lot of apps what I'd like to see if you download an app from the web it gets authenticated via store to be checked if it's safe and another thing the Microsoft store should be able to also show results from the web when you search for an application
  • Just depends on where it is at, and what version is the best.
  • From an end-user perspective, now that regular applications are available in the Store (miffed I can't pay for Office365 with Store credit, though), I like downloading from the Store. From a developer perspective, aren't there fees involved even for free apps and regular desktop applications? I use a fair number of applications that will never make their way into the store.
  • Not really any per-app fees for free apps. We're about to add Microsoft's Store to our list of supported outlets (currently just in Google Play and App Store), and I think there may be a one time fee to be able to publish to the Store (but MS may have dropped that, not certain), but nothing per app. If you're a developer with a free app, make a Store version and make it available there, or add it to the store and price it at $.99, even if you still offer it for free on your own site. Plus, even if there is still a one-time cost to be able to publish to the Store, it will be much less than the cost of maintaining a web site for download.
  • I also miss pushing installs to my phone (windows phone) via the web browser through Microsoft store. I personally prefer to install via the Microsoft store. As I prefer the sandboxed UWP layer and not having the aggravating issues of lingering installer files. Which can need an aggressive uninstaller/tool to remove them, which can cause o/s level issues. Less so on W10 but it's prevalent on W7 and W8. The biggest downside of store installs is not being able to use an app that was previously installed because you haven't upgraded to the latest version of the o/s. So you could end up wait upto a half a year if you uninstall an app, for example twitter. I had to uninstall it but I can't reinstall the app because I don't have the latest version of WM10. There is a few others but I can't recall from the top of my head. My kid sisters laptop has zero space to upgraded to latest version because it only has 28 Gb of storage. This asinine practise needs to stop. However for PC Games, i like to tinker and mod files like fallout 3 you need to modify a ini file so it runs on a single core (it crashes on multi-core cpus without fan made modded files) so installers.
  • I honestly prefer the old way.
  • I don't like that some Windows Store apps don't have adjustable window sizes, so I will generally go with web instead so I can lay out my desktop how best suits me.
  • Isn't this due to the app rather than the Windows Store?
  • Sounds like the developer(s) must have fixed the window sizes on the specific apps that behaved that way, but that's definitely not a function of a Store app. That's just poor development -- complain to those app developers. For built-in "Store" apps (they still upgrade automatically in the background through the Store, which for me is the Store's killer feature) just look at the Calculator, Groove, or Skype. All fully resizable.
  • Depends. If there's a 64-bit version of the app, I'm definitely downloading it directly from the developer as IIRC Windows Store doesn't support 64-bit apps yet. If not, then I'm going with the Store build. Much easier to maintain and stay up to date.
  • I will do it outside the Store as MS has problems with Store apps for every Win 10 Upgrade. It's the third time now, that many of my store apps refuse to work after major upgrades. And there is no help to get from MS. Past two upgrades, I had to perform a repair of windows. That didn't help this time, so I'm stuck with a lot of apps and games not working and the only solution seems to be to clean-re-install WIndows and that means naturally to loose all gameplay...
  • Most games' data is on the cloud.
    But I've no prob with store app so far with my NBs.
  • I don't doubt that you really did have those problems, but I think that's a pretty rare phenomenon. I've never heard of that happening to users before. On the dozens of systems I run or am responsible for, I've never seen anything like that. In fact, I'd say that Store apps are significantly more reliable and more likely to "just work." I would acknowledge that following some updates to the app (not the OS), Skype was quirky and even crashed, but that was fixed long ago by other automatic updates. That's the only app I can recall having a problem.
  • Some apps are not there, some are even better from web(not from store). Like torrent apps, vlc,...
  • I prefer the Store for things like iTunes where the executable would install other things as well as the main application e.g. Bonjour. I also have no issue with executables, as they allow you to install applications that wouldn't be allowed on the Store.
  • Wow, 1039 total votes.
  • I won't install unnecessary win32 anymore and I don't like separate updaters running in the background and I hate rubbishes in my system during installation and after uninstallation.
    So my pick is store, web, portable app then win32 (big names only, VisualStudio, Unreal, Adobe, etc). * btw, I discovered an app called web2app in the store... interesting one.
  • As there is nothing the store does better then normal programs from various web pages, i have no reason to ever use the store.
  • It needs more pro software. Like if Microsoft start selling AutoCAD, Maya, Inventor, Revit, CC Suit, Solidworks, Cinema 4D, MODO etc etc then I would gladly ditch vendor websites & other repositories for .exe files in favour of Windows Store.
  • Yeah, I'd really like to see MS work to get the major applications into the Store. Right now it's a weird combination of mobile app store and PC computer environment, with a few AAA games thrown in mostly for Xbox and PC Play Anywhere. For the Store to work well for users, it should be be possible to get pretty much every piece of software you're likely to need on your PC, including the productivity heavy hitters.
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