Scenario: Desktop app that calls web APIs

Learn all you need to build a Desktop app that calls web APIs


Before reading this article, you should be familiar with the following concepts:

Getting started

If you haven't already, create your first application by following the .NET desktop quickstart, the UWP quickstart or the macOS native app quickstart:


You write a desktop application, and you want to sign in users to your application and call web APIs such as the Microsoft Graph, other Microsoft APIs, or your own web API. You have several possibilities:

  • You can use the interactive token acquisition:

    • If your desktop application supports graphical controls, for instance if it's a Windows.Form application, a WPF application or a macOS native application.
    • Of if it's a .NET Core application and you agree to have the authentication interaction with Azure AD happen in the system browser
  • For Windows hosted applications, it's also possible for applications running on computers joined to a Windows domain or AAD joined to acquire a token silently by using Integrated Windows Authentication.

  • Finally, and although it's not recommended, you can use Username/Password in public client applications. It's still needed in some scenarios (like DevOps), but beware that using it will impose constraints on your application. For instance, it can't sign in user who needs to perform multi-factor authentication (Conditional Access). Also your application won't benefit from single sign-on (SSO).

    It's also against the principles of modern authentication and is only provided for legacy reasons.

    Desktop application

  • If you're writing a portable command-line tool - probably a .NET Core application running on Linux or Mac - and if you accept that the authentication be delegated to the system browser, you will be able to use interactive authentication. (.NET Core doesn't provide yet a Web browser and therefore the authentication happens in the system browser), Otherwise, the best option in that case is to use device code flow. This flow is also used for applications without a browser, such as IoT applications

    Browserless application


Desktop applications have a number of specificities, which depends mainly on whether your application uses the interactive authentication or not.

Next steps