Developing Windows applications for USB devices
This topic provides guidelines for deciding whether you should write a Windows Store app or a Windows desktop app to communicate with a USB device.
Windows provides API sets that you can use to write apps that talk to a custom USB devices. The API performs common USB-related tasks such as, finding the device, data transfers.
"Custom device" in this context means, a device for which Microsoft does not provide an in-box class driver. Instead, you can install WinUSB (Winusb.sys) as the device driver.
If you install Winusb.sys, here are the programming model options:
- Windows Store app for a USB device
Windows desktop app for a USB device
Before Windows 8.1, apps that were communicating through Winusb.sys, were desktop apps written by using WinUSB Functions. In Windows 8.1, the API set has been extended. Other Windows desktop app resources are here: Windows desktop app.
The strategy for choosing the best programming model depends on various factors.
- Will your app communicate with an internal USB device?
The APIs are primarily designed for accessing peripheral devices. The API can also access PC internal USB devices. However access to PC internal USB devices from a Windows Store app is limited to a privileged app that is explicitly declared in device metadata by the OEM for that PC.
- Will your app communicate with USB isochronous endpoints?
If your app transmits data to or from isochronous endpoints of the device, you must write a Windows desktop app. In Windows 8.1, new WinUSB Functions have been added to the API set that allow a desktop app to send data to and receive data from isochronous endpoints.
- Is your app a "control panel" type of app?
Windows Store apps are per-user apps and do not have the ability to make changes outside the scope of each app. For these types of apps, you must write a Windows desktop app.
- Is the USB device class supported classes by Windows Store apps?
Write a Windows Store app if your device belongs to one these device classes.
Note If your device belongs to DeviceFirmwareUpdate class, your app must be a privileged app.
name:cdcControl, classId:02 * *
name:physical, classId:05 * *
name:personalHealthcare, classId:0f 00 00
name:activeSync, classId:ef 01 01
name:palmSync, classId:ef 01 02
name:deviceFirmwareUpdate, classId:fe 01 01
name:irda, classId:fe 02 00
name:measurement, classId:fe 03 *
name:vendorSpecific, classId:ff * *
|Driver requirement||Windows Store app||Windows desktop app|
|Function driver||Microsoft-provided Winusb.sys (kernel-mode driver).||Microsoft-provided Winusb.sys (kernel-mode driver).|
|Filter driver||If filter drivers are present, access is limited to privileged apps. The app is declared as privileged apps in device metadata by the OEM.||Filter driver can be present in the kernel mode device stack as long as it doesn't block access to Winusb.sys.|
|Sample||Windows Store app||Windows desktop app|
|Get started with these samples||
|Development tools||Windows Store app||Windows desktop app|
Microsoft Visual Studio 2013
Microsoft Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) for Windows 8.1
Use WinUSB Application template included with Visual Studio (Ultimate or Professional) and Windows Driver Kit (WDK) 8
Note For isochronous transfers, Visual Studio 2013 with Windows Driver Kit (WDK) 8.1
|Key scenario||Windows Store app||Windows desktop app|
|Device discovery||Use Windows.Devices.Enumeration namespace to get a UsbDevice.||Use SetupAPI functions and WinUsb_Initialize to get a WINUSB_INTERFACE_HANDLE.|
|USB control transfer|
|Getting USB descriptors||WinUsb_GetDescriptor|
|Sending USB bulk transfer|
|Sending USB interrupt transfer|
|Sending USB isochronous transfer||Not supported.|
|Closing the device||UsbDevice.Close||WinUsb_Free|
|Documentation||Windows Store app||Windows desktop app|
|Programming guide||Talking to USB devices, start to finish||How to Access a USB Device by Using WinUSB Functions|
|API reference||Windows.Devices.Usb||WinUSB Functions|