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How to Build a Windows App: A Guide to Setting Up a Well-Managed Development Process

How to Make a Windows App - ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft has over 33 years of experience in professional desktop app development.

Windows Application Development: Key Points

  • Organization steps: Discovery, Project planning, Windows app design and development planning, UX and UI design, Development and QA, Launch and Evolution.
  • Talents needed: Business consultant, Project manager, Software architect, UX designer, UI designer, DevOps engineer, Software developer, QA specialist.
  • Sourcing models: All in-house, Team augmentation, Partial outsourcing, Full outsourcing.
  • Windows development frameworks: UWP, WPF, Win32.
  • Costs: From $40,000 to $400,000 (cost factors below).

Key Steps of Windows Application Development

With over 3,052 successful software development projects behind its back, ScienceSoft defines the following six steps to organizing Windows app development:

1.

Discovery

Deliverables: Project charter (or a high-level project specification)

During the first phase, you plan out and finalize the concept of your future Windows application. Alone or together with a business analyst, you list major business needs or point out the app’s unique value, and define its target audience. In case your Windows app is a product, you should also collect market data, analyze key competitors.

To complete an initial project specification, proceed to outline the high-level functional scope of the Windows app with planned user roles and permission matrix as well as select KPIs for project success estimation.

ScienceSoft's tip: We've found it beneficial to consider and choose a distribution strategy during this stage. The earlier you decide whether you want a Microsoft store release, publication on a third-party app store or a custom promotional website, the fewer are the chances of delays and additional expenses later in the project.

ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft

2.

Project planning

Deliverables: Project management plan

By assessing the Windows app’s functional scope from the business perspective, you define what software design and development efforts are required to bring the application concept to life. The efforts should be roughly estimated both in time and budget and then assigned to specific team roles. The possible need for additional talents (often meaning the cooperation with a vendor) usually transpires during this phase, too.

By the end of this stage, you have a high-level project management plan, which needs to be approved by all stakeholders before the project moves on to the next phase.

ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft

3.

Windows app design and development planning

Deliverables: Software requirements specification, final development schedule, responsibility assignment plan, Windows app evolution plan, quality management plan, risk management plan, change management plan.

The information on the app’s concept from the initial specification is significantly elaborated during this phase and used for creating one of the key planning-stage deliverables with both functional and non-functional requirements – a software requirements specification (SRS). This document should:

  • Confirm the general info on the app from the project charter (purpose, distribution, user roles, etc.).
  • Offer several practical use cases for different user roles.
  • List application features and user-app interaction scenarios.
  • Show precise software architecture diagrams.
  • Define the technology stack (development platform, programming language, APIs, etc.).

Apart from the SRS, you should get a final app development schedule, a list of project team members with assigned responsibilities, and your Windows app’s evolution roadmap. Make sure there are also documented plans that describe quality assurance methods as well as methods of handling risks and possible changes related to both the software requirements and development schedule.

ScienceSoft's tip: If you create a Windows app for commercial use, mind that some development platforms and distribution strategies are incompatible (refer to the ‘Launch and Evolution’ step). We recommend to plan this ahead.

ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft

4.

UX and UI design

Deliverables: UX prototype, GUI mockups, interface control document.

UX designers draw on the information from the SRS and the user research they perform to create wireframes for the key screens of the future Windows app – and then use prototyping tools to unite the screens into a single interactive experience. The created prototype should pass thorough usability testing since this is when UX issues critical for the app’s success are the cheapest to eliminate.

UI designers continue the work on the prototype that was fully adjusted after usability testing and replace the rough sketches with high-fidelity graphics. When done, they share the GUI mockups, UI elements and interface control specification with the development team.

ScienceSoft's tip: To create visually appealing and user-friendly Windows app designs, ScienceSoft's UX and UI designers recommend using Sketch and InVision apps.

ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft

5.

Development and QA

Deliverables: Windows app, app’s source code, Windows Installer, installation/administration guides.

To ensure the quality results and efficiency of all software delivery and QA efforts, ScienceSoft recommends setting up a CI/CD pipeline at the start of your project. All coding and testing of your Windows app should go in parallel, with sufficient amount of automation. With such an approach, the delivery of quality, tested code happens faster.

Once the app’s code is ready, the team works on creating a Windows Installer and – if required – installation and system administration manuals.

ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft

6.

Launch and evolution

In case your Windows app is an internal company solution, its deployment and integration into your infrastructure are parts of the CI/CD pipeline. If your app is a commercial product, you need a separate step – a release to public.

As an option, you may have a custom promotional website. After your customers download and install the app, they will be notified about your updates and new releases via the app’s built-in messages.

ScienceSoft's tip: We believe that one of the most convenient distribution options is Microsoft Store publication. The store has a large outreach and automatically notifies users about updates. However, it is only available for apps developed with Universal Windows Platform (read more in the ‘Platforms’ section below).

ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft

Consider ScienceSoft’s Professional Services for Windows Application Development

With over 33 years of experience in building desktop software, ScienceSoft offers professional consulting and development services for Windows applications.

Consulting on Windows app development

  • Defining a functional scope of a Windows app.
  • Project’s individual success metrics for stakeholders.
  • Long-term Windows app evolution plan.
  • Elaborated risk management plan.
  • Help with defining a technology stack and choosing a development methodology.
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Windows app development services

  • Eliciting business requirements and formulating the Windows app scope.
  • Defining functional software requirements.
  • Windows app architecture design.
  • UX and UI design and usability testing.
  • Windows app development and QA.
  • Support and evolution.
see our development service offer

Why ScienceSoft

  • Dedicated C++, .NET, and Python departments.
  • Over 700 talents on board with 7-20 years of experience on average.
  • In-house experts in UX/UI design, QA, DevOps, and other techs.
  • Nearly 400 successful desktop app development projects.
  • Our clients are: IBM, Rakuten Viber, eBay, Walmart, NASA JPL, etc.

ScienceSoft as a reliable Windows app development partner:

ScienceSoft has worked with us to develop a library application for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. They suggested and implemented a multi-platform framework that minimized development costs. We have continued iterating on that application and adding new features over several years, and ScienceSoft's developers have been great at implementing the designs that we give them, as well as suggesting ideas themselves. They produce good code, they are quick to respond, detail-oriented, and a very good value for our money.

Mike Todd, CTO, OneBookShelf

Talents Generally Required for the Windows Application Development Project

Business consultant

Analyzes business needs, describes the Windows app’s functional scope, drafts high-level requirements and takes part in further planning documentation.

Project manager

Composes a project management plan, creates deliverables at the software design and planning stage, controls the development progress, manages the project team.

Software architect

Advises a PM in creating the documentation at the Windows app design and planning phase, plans the architecture of a Windows application, takes part in controlling the compliance of the app with the requirements.

UX designer

Performs UX research, creates UX wireframes and an interactive prototype, adjusts the prototype during usability testing.

UI designer

Reshapes UX wireframes into full GUI, creates interface control documentation.

DevOps engineer

Establishes CI/CD processes and oversees project automation throughout the project.

Software developer

Delivers code of the Windows app, fixes issues on QA’s notices to make Windows application code consistent with the SRS.

QA specialist

Plans test cases based on software requirements, verifies the Windows app’s compatibility with the quality standards defined in the QA plan, logs testing results.

Windows App Development Sourcing Models

All in-house

You have control over everything from project management to a Windows app’s production but risk experiencing a project delay as you may need 6-8 months to form a skilled team.

Team augmentation

If you are confident in the development talents you have onboard but want to expedite the app’s release date, you can hire additional talents to temporarily expand your team.

Partial outsourcing

You outsource development and business analysis but remain responsible for project management. Unless you are planning more projects in the future, consider the temporary role of a PM for your company.

Full outsourcing

You outsource the entire project but need to have a solid vendor management strategy to stay in control.

High-end results

ScienceSoft's Windows apps are used by billions of users worldwide, praised by BBC and Telegraph, and drive workflows of enterprises in 30+ industries.

Full transparency

We agree on a custom set of KPIs for your project, deliver weekly demos, and provide Jira/Confluend access to let you track project progress.

Reduced costs

By leveraging Agile approach, and development best practices, ScienceSoft's developers help to achive 50%+ project cost reduction.

Platforms ScienceSoft Recommends for Building Windows Apps

With its 33-year long practice of developing Windows software, ScienceSoft relies on Microsoft's trusted, robust Windows development tools:

Universal Windows Platform (UWP)

Description

  • Newest cross-platform tool for developing Windows 10 apps for PCs, tablets, Microsoft Mixed Reality hardware, etc.
  • Deep integration with the Visual Studio toolbox, resulting in faster UI development and higher app security.
  • Built-in support of Fluent Design System to create apps with touch, ink, and gamepad input.
  • Microsoft Store publication.
  • C#, Visual Basic, and C++ programming languages.

Best for

Windows apps that target multiple Microsoft devices; IoT apps.

Pricing

Free.

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)

Description

  • Mature framework first released in 2006, which supports the development of desktop apps for Windows 7, 8, and 10.
  • A subset of .NET Framework (open-source tool with 60,000 developers and 3,700 companies contributing to its growth).
  • Deep integration with the Visual Studio toolbox, resulting in faster UI development and higher app security.
  • C#, Visual Basic, and C++ programming languages.

BEST FOR

All desktop Windows apps.

Pricing

Free.

Win32

Description

  • Development platform, dating back to 1993.
  • Helps to easily create self-contained executable apps that don’t require installation.
  • Targets all existing Windows versions, making it possible to create apps that will work even on old, industrially used computers.
  • C and C++ programming languages.

BEST FOR

Windows apps that require highest performance and direct access to hardware.

Pricing

Free.

Programming languages

IDEs

Visual Studio
Visual Studio Code
Rider
Qt Creator
Xcode
Eclipse
PyDev

Databases / data storages

SQL

Microsoft SQL Server
MySQL
Oracle
PostgreSQL

NoSQL

Apache NiFi
MongoDB

QA tools

Winium
Test Complete
TestStack.White
Ranorex
WinAppDriver
Sikuli
PyWinAuto

ScienceSoft's Windows App Development Highlights

Rakuten Viber – VoIP Messenger with 1.17 Billion Users – for Windows

  • Evolution and testing of the Qt-based messenger app for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
  • Integration with the mobile app and a customer web billing portal.
Productivity App Acknowledged by The Daily Telegraph and BBC

Productivity App Acknowledged by The Daily Telegraph and BBC

  • Development of the Qt-based Windows app to block time-consuming websites.
  • Full-cycle app testing to ensure cross-browser compatibility.
Windows App for a Leader in Image Processing

Cross-platform Desktop App for a Leader in Image Processing

  • Development costs reduced by 40% due to Qt-powered Windows development.
  • 7 projects featuring desktop app development from scratch.
Teleconferencing and Business Messaging App with Text-to-Speech

Teleconferencing and Business Messaging App with Text-to-Speech

  • Software modernization to comply with accessibility policies via VoiceOver and Narrator engines.
  • Use of Qt for Windows development and update facilitation.
Blockchain-Driven Web Browser with Over 10M Monthly Active Users

Blockchain-Driven Web Browser with Over 10M Monthly Active Users

  • Cross-platform development, music services integration, and continuous evolution.
  • Added features include auto-updating, cryptographic tools, and in-app torrent downloading.

Costs of Windows Application Development

While a basic Windows app will cost just around $40,000 to develop, the price of developing an application of average complexity will reach the $200,000 margin and go beyond $400,000 for extremely a complex application.

As you see, the costs of Windows application development are highly variable, still there are the main factors that influence the project costs:

General cost drivers

  • Number and complexity of Windows application features.
  • Number of Windows versions supported or Microsoft devices targeted.
  • Location and structure of the project team.
  • Vendor’s pricing model (in case of cooperation with a vendor).

Additional costs

  • UX and UI design and testing efforts.
  • Windows app deployment/distribution costs.
  • Windows app maintenance costs.

About ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft is a global software development and IT consulting company based in McKinney, Texas, US. We are ISO 9001 and ISO 27001-certified and ensure professional management of software quality and data security. As part of our desktop app development services, we create all types of Windows apps and provide comprehensive guidance on organizing and overseeing such development projects.