January 23, 2018 3:00 pm

Introducing the Windows Desktop Program for Desktop Application Analytics

By / Principal Product Manager

An important feature for desktop application developers is the ability to view detailed analytics about application performance and its popularity with users. Until today, developers had difficulty accessing these analytics without cobbling together multiple tools. With the new Windows Desktop Program, developers now have a convenient, one-stop portal to view their desktop application analytics or access the data via an API. Statistics and charts quickly show how the applications are doing– from how many customers they’ve reached to detailed performance data on crashes and failures. With these analytics, developers can better track and prioritize fixes, monitor the distribution of their application, prepare and improve the overall experience for their customers.

There’s no charge to access this data—all you need to do is sign up with a Microsoft account to identify yourself, then upload a signed file using the same trusted, valid certificate your company uses to sign your applications.

Once you sign up for the Windows Desktop Application Program and register your certificates, you’ll be able to use the analytics reports to:

  • View a summary of all failure types, sorted by number of hits
  • Drill down into each failure and download stack traces and CAB files to debug the issue faster
  • Compare the health status and adoption of a newly released version of your application to previous releases
  • View health data in aggregate or by region, allowing you to isolate issues that are specific to a region
  • Compare performance and adoption of your desktop applications across Windows versions, such as the latest Windows 10 or Windows Insider releases.

To view analytics for your applications:

  1. Sign up for the Windows Desktop Application Program. If you already have a Windows Dev Center account, you can opt in to this program on the Programs page in Account settings. Otherwise, you can sign up here.
  2. Follow the steps to download an unsigned file, sign it with the same code-signing certificate your company uses to sign your desktop applications, and upload the newly signed file back through the portal.
  3. That’s it! We will take the signed file you just uploaded and map it to the telemetry we collect on all applications with the same certificate to show you your analytics data. To learn more, check out our documentation here.

To learn more about the Windows Desktop Application Program, check out this video from our Windows Developer series.

Updated March 9, 2018 10:32 am

Join the conversation

  1. What type of apps do you mean with Desktop App here?
    Are UWP Apps desktop apps? If so where does one find the company certificate mentioned?

    • Hi Peter, Desktop Applications are applications that run on the Windows Desktop. Commonly they are .exes that are installed via an MSI. Additionally, these are applications that are not published through the Windows Store, and they are not UWP apps. If you do have a UWP desktop app that is not distributed through the store, analytics for those apps are not supported. Hope that helps!

      • – What about a WPF .exe, installed using ClickOnce?
        – Does this require a paid certificate, or is there a free alternative (e.g. ClickOnce manifests; SelfCert)?

  2. Is this capability part of the Visual Studio App Center? And how does it compare with App Center’s Analytics — there seems to be a lot of overlap.

    • Hi Dan, with App Center, the application developer has to explicitly make an API call to enable crash services before their crashes show up in App Center. With the Desktop Program, the crashes are enabled upon certificate upload. Additionally, VS App Center has a broader subset of capabilities for development such as cross-platform development and distribution and use of Azure cloud test lab. Many desktop applications cannot or do not need to take advantage of these features, but we can still make Analytics reports available to them. The data source in both cases is the same. Hope that helps!

  3. Currently the registration seems to only be possible for companies. Are there plans allow registration of individuals?

    • Hi Jozef, the company name is only used as placeholder and will not prevent you from signing up if you do not belong to a company. You can use your own individual name for the registration.

  4. I distribute a UWP app for side loading because the Store does not accept a UWP app that optionally uses a (GPS or AIS) serial device to USB connection. Since this app is signed with my certificate, will analytics be supported? If not, will it be supported in the future? If not, why not? Thank you.

    • Hi David, side loaded UWP apps are not supported at this time. We are looking at this as a future roadmap feature.

  5. Hi,
    how the user is informed about collecting the data? Does she have to agree with some additional policy or it is related to the “Diagnostics & Feedback” in Settings?

    • Hello Radim, thanks for your question, I’m sure there are others wondering the same thing given the GPDR standards. There is no additional policy for users to accept. For all of our Dev Center programs, including the Desktop program, we adhere to the user’s preferences in Settings/Diagnostics & Feedback.

  6. We are thinking about signing up for the WDAP to monitor problems with applications used internally in our organization.
    Can we use a code signing certificate issued by our own internal enterprise CA to sign the applications and signable file? Or must it be from a “public” CA (VeriSign, Comodo…)?