Push notifications overview

Push notifications in the Windows App SDK use Windows Push Notifications Service (WNS) to send rich notifications to Windows apps using Azure App Registration identities.

Push notification types and usage scenarios

Push notifications can be used to enable several distinct features. The content and effect of a push notification will vary based on the way it is being used.

Raw notifications

Raw notifications are consumed by the app itself and are not communicated to the user. They can be used to control application behavior or notify applications of state changes remotely.

Scenario Description Example
Application Wake Up Raw notifications can be used by app developers to wake up their application instead of it constantly running, which frees up user resources. Without raw notifications: The Contoso Chat app runs in the background while waiting for a VOIP call.

With raw notifications: The Contoso app process can be in a terminated state until a raw notification signals it and brings the process up, indicating a VOIP call has been initiated.
Real Time Sync Raw notifications can replace polling scenarios by allowing the app developer to send payloads from their App Service to the App Client on the local device. These payloads notify the App Client to sync with the App Service. Without raw notifications: The Contoso Chat app polls the Contoso cloud service every 30 mins to check for content updates, and initiates a sync if updates are available.

With raw notifications: The Contoso Chat app is notified immediately when new content is available, and syncs that content right away.

App notifications from the cloud

App notifications are used to communicate with the user. The notification content is displayed in a transient window in the bottom right corner of the screen and in the Notification Center (called Action Center in Windows 10). App notifications can be used to inform the user of application status or state changes, or to prompt the user to take an action. App notifications can be either push (sent from the cloud) or sent locally. Sending a cloud-sourced app notification is similar to sending a raw notification, except the X-WNS-Type header is toast, Content-Type is text/xml, and the content contains the app notification XML payload, which you can learn more about here.


The push notifications support in the Windows App SDK currently has these limitations:

  • If your app is published as self-contained or is running with the elevated (admin) privilege, this feature may not be supported. In your app, use the winrt::PushNotificationManager::IsSupported() check as demonstrated in Quickstart: Push notifications in the Windows App SDK and implement a custom socket if the feature is unsupported.
  • Microsoft reserves the right to disable or revoke apps from using push notifications during the private preview.
  • During the private preview, push notification volume is limited to 1 million per month.

Next steps

See Quickstart: Push notifications in the Windows App SDK to get started.