Microsoft finally acknowledges that the Windows Store has a bunch of crap apps

Microsoft's Windows Store has plenty of quality apps that can enhance your productivity or allow you to pass some time with engaging games. But, on the other side of the coin, there are also tons of apps that are straight up scams and all they do is take your money and provide no value at all.

For example, if you search VLC, a popular media player, you will find several options, and it is not clear which app is the official product. More so, if you click on the wrong one, it will cost you $2.49 to download an 'app' that provides you with a download link to the desktop application. There is no value for this app and yet Microsoft has let it through its filters and is live in the Windows Store.

The story of the Windows Store has been making its way around the web for sometime, and the conversation was reignited after How-To Geeks dug deep into the Windows Store and uncovered quite a few apps parading around as official applications. Really, though, this is nothing new, as the Windows Phone store has had the same quality issue as well. But, Microsoft is finally starting to acknowledge that there is room for improvement in its stores:

We strive to make the Windows Store a high-quality experience for customers and also accessible to the broadest audience of developers. Based on customer and developer feedback, we recently took actions to help users discover the specific app titles they’re searching for and improve the overall Store experience. Those updates provide clear guidance to developers and also improve our ability to identify, audit and remove problematic apps. We recognize that there is more work to do and will continue to re-evaluate our policies to strike a balance between the opportunity for developers and the app quality that our customers expect.

The real proof will come when there is considerable change to the store to remove all of the apps that try to deceive users, but for now, Microsoft is at least acknowledging the issue. Of course, for Microsoft, it's a numbers game too as they want to be able to say that they have X number of apps in their stores as they compete against Google and Apple. But, if your entire store is mostly filled with garbage, is it better to say that you have a small quantity of quality apps, or an even larger quantity of crappy apps?

Via: Slate.com

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Well is time there kick most of the apps out. It shouldn't be about numbers but quality and authentic apps. I know microsft want to try and catch up with Appstore and the Playstore. Though there are crap apps in either store.

out of curiosity, i decided to run a search for "vlc" in the windows store just to see if things were really as bad as reported here.
i found a sea of confusing things - cannot tell who/what is legit or what it really is.

so then i figured let me repeat this test in the apple store to see what i find there - night and day difference.
the apple store was not confusing.

add another thing to work on, ms.

I hate app stores. Microsoft's, Apple's, all of them. They are all full of this crap. From bad programmers trying to make a quick buck on their shovelware to actual scammers trying to rip people off. App stores are just a sea of garbage and besides, I'm not using a full desktop PC so I can run mobile phone apps on it.

Bonfire said,
I hate app stores. Microsoft's, Apple's, all of them. They are all full of this crap. From bad programmers trying to make a quick buck on their shovelware to actual scammers trying to rip people off. App stores are just a sea of garbage and besides, I'm not using a full desktop PC so I can run mobile phone apps on it.

I think the benefits to app stores outweigh the downs you mentioned.

Speaking of filters, my app recently got the opposite problem. I sent out an update a couple weeks ago to allow the user to export any doc, docx, or rtf document to anything and everything else including html. Instead of making it a separate app, I incorporated this ability to my current app.

http://www.neowin.net/forum/to...6553-modern-word-processor/

It failed certification because, and I quote, the MS tester failed to see the point of the update. I had to write to him a long explanation about it. I think there is a push to make a bunch of single purpose apps instead of combining the features to make a really good app.

I'm finding my app to take longer and longer to get certified whereas back when it was just a simple text editor it was certified within a couple hours of being submitted.

I'm actually scared that they might put their foot down eventually and make me separate the functions into separate apps because I have many more functions and controls on my todo list for that app.

I haven't found one that is worth downloading. It's either half the features of the desktop version, or plagued with ads. So, for me "a bunch" refers to "all".

Wow, the Windows store is incredibly crappy, I was shocked reading through the comments at how really crappy it is.

It's pretty bad in that there are a lot of these crap fake apps on there. I avoid the Windows store for this reason. If they cleaned it up, it would be much more appealing but then the "app count" would be a lot lower.

Under all the garbage, there are some good, official apps. Not many I'd use on a desktop, but several that are useful on a tablet/touch screen.

The problem is not the bunch of crap apps. All stores have many of them. The problem is mostly that you can't find anything remotely useful. The store is plagued with the same problem as the Xbox Live Marketplace. Everything (including crap) is rated 3.5 stars and up. No way to know what is good ans what is not. Unless i'm mistaken (did not browse the store in a while) you can't read the reviews either. On Steam the written reviews, metacritic score, forum, videos, etc... are all really useful to know what might be good and what might be not. It's almost impossible to browse for games on the windows store. They are all rated 3.5 stars and up and save for an handful of screenshots you can't know anything about them unless you leave the store and go on Youtube and such. I just browsed 4 games and the 4 were rated 4 stars: Empress 2, Tales of Middleport, Archie Riverdale Rescue and Mega Run. I personally gave up on the store not worth my time.

# of Apps is not important, it should be Quality of Apps. Also, there can be 100 farting apps, but all should work fine, which provides the option for the WP user and encourages individual creativity.

Above all, I've used iPhone, WP since day 1, finally moved to Android last year with Note 3. Though i don't use most of the features of the Device (like note taking, eye gestures, etc.) and don't use lot of Android specific Apps.

Chrome, Google Maps and Gmail are most important part of my day to day usage.

I feel, MS should cut a deal with Google, get these 3 Apps, a lot of users will be back and new will consider moving to WP, provided a comparable device like the new HTC One M8 is freely available with all providers at competitive cost.

Which is where the failed strategy starts. I don't see in foreseeable future IE, Bing Maps and Outlook can come near/overtake Chrome, Google Maps, Gmail. Microsoft realized it's high time to release Office for iOS devices, same way, they need to realize these 3 apps are a must for WP's success.

Windows Store, Windows Phone, Windows 8, XBOX One = All flops.

Frankly, the only thing keeping Microsoft in business seems to be Office. My how the mighty have fallen.

COKid said,
Windows Store, Windows Phone, Windows 8, XBOX One = All flops.

Frankly, the only thing keeping Microsoft in business seems to be Office. My how the mighty have fallen.


Windows licensing, Server and Tools, and Office makes up 100% of Microsoft profits.

Windows 8 is not a flop. Windows 8 RTM was. Xbox one is weak and flawed, definitely not next gen "specs", but it's too early to call it a flop.

MorganX said,
Windows 8 is not a flop.

How is Windows 8 not a flop? Its worse than Vista, you say Vista was not a flop too?
I dont understand how you can say Win8 is not a flop its widely acknowledge that its a huge flop.

Fallen? Don't think so. No one can be on top forever and that includes Apple and Google. Iphone is great, but won't be on top forever... and that's like 60% of their income. XBox one may have had a slow start but that will change.. Sony looked great out the door, but now it doesn't look like much is coming up for PS4 which is sad. Meanwhile, XBox One keeps throwing those updates out with new features. Not smart to count them out just yet, I think there is a lot of positive stuff coming out of MS in the coming years. Either way Apple and MS need each other in a weird way. Like Coke and Pepsi.. that competition works for them both.

Crappy app store filled with GARBAGE that MS SHOULD be policing, but isn't. What a shock. And yet, they are surprised when no one wants their phones...

It just another indication of how Microsoft has lost their focus. Look to Windows-8 as an excellent example, so why should Win-Phone be any different.

Problems with Windows Store,

1. VLC, the non-scam one, is trash. Yet, even though VLC for Windows 8 is absolute putrid garbage, it is considered a good app - probably floating in the top list.

2. Microsoft intentionally, without any doubt, is gimping their own store for number boosting game.

3. Microsoft also refuses to release anything remotely good for its own App store. If the left hand knew what the right was doing, we would have Halo games on there.

In Google play, at least 30 apps either have "VLC" in their name, or use the "VLC logo" in their icon.
In Windows phone store, there are 7.

acrodex said,
In Google play, at least 30 apps either have "VLC" in their name, or use the "VLC logo" in their icon.
In Windows phone store, there are 7.

One company certifies app, one does not.

neonspark said,
well JUST the windows store? I recall thousands of fart apps on the appstore and playstore last I checked.

A fart app is not a scam, it is just stupid. Stupid apps are not scams.

You won't get a fart app when searching for iTunes

Just did a search for VLC in the Windows Store. Completely different results from the How to Geek article. Looks like they have already started cleaning things up. Even though I kind of felt the HTG article was a wee-bit over the top in slamming MS, I am very glad it apparently got the attention of the right people at MS.

They have to clean up both stores (WIn + WP). Quality over quantity. Then, they should reject all new apps with ugly icons/tiles/design. Those apps are pure garbage.

So many MS apologist here. Wow.

MS has obviously been letting anything and everything into the store so that it can boast on how many apps they have. MS fans here that think this problem is the same on Google's and Apple's app stores are really kidding themselves (or are just completely clueless about it). Some fraction of the problem exists in the other stores, but those problems are tiny compared to the ones in the Windows Store.

The solution is easy, MS should audits every developer with more than 100 apps. I bet that there are not more than 300 developers ruining the store.


For example, if you search VLC, a popular media player, you will find several options, and it is not clear which app is the official product. More so, if you click on the wrong one, it will cost you $2.49 to download an 'app' that provides you with a download link to the desktop application. There is no value for this app and yet Microsoft has let it through its filters and is live in the Windows Store.

Anything that boosts numbers is Microsoft's policy it seems. If they took down all clones/duplicates, scams, and fart apps, there'd probably only be a few hundred if that.

simplezz said,

Anything that boosts numbers is Microsoft's policy it seems. If they took down all clones/duplicates, scams, and fart apps, there'd probably only be a few hundred if that.

Exactly. Isn't there an application process for Window Store apps? They know damn well these scams were going on.

simplezz said,

Certainly not to this extent. It seems that Microsoft will let almost anything in to boost its numbers. Consequently, the quality is extremely poor. If it makes you feel better by imagining that other stores are identical, go right ahead. Ignorance is bliss I guess ;)

I just went to Google Play, typed in fart and lo and behold, a plethora of identical fart apps with an endless "see more" button in which has a depth that is seemingly bottomless.

xrobwx said,

I just went to Google Play, typed in fart and lo and behold, a plethora of identical fart apps with an endless "see more" button in which has a depth that is seemingly bottomless.

joke app is not a scam app

Steven P. said,
Lets just pretend that the Chrome and Apple Stores do not have this problem too :)

Certainly not to this extent. It seems that Microsoft will let almost anything in to boost its numbers. Consequently, the quality is extremely poor. If it makes you feel better by imagining that other stores are identical, go right ahead. Ignorance is bliss I guess ;)

If we play the numbers game, it would appear that Apple and Chrome stores have the same issue to a much larger extent.

zhangm said,
If we play the numbers game, it would appear that Apple and Chrome stores have the same issue to a much larger extent.

I don't think so. Run these identical searches on the two stores:
https://play.google.com/store/search?q=vlc
http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/search?q=vlc

It's clear on the playstore which is the official app. And half of the apps are paid on the Windows marketplace. VLC is free software, it shouldn't cost anything. This is indicative of the poor quality of the Windows Phone ecosystem and how little Microsoft does during certification.

Steven P. said,
Lets just pretend that the Chrome and Apple Stores do not have this problem too :)

Are you kidding? Apple doesn't nearly have this problem. I don't know how it is now, but earlier this year, other than the high profile apps, most of the other apps in the store were junk. This is just an example of Microsoft creating something simply to imitate Apple and not because of a deeper well understood function.

No, google play store has tons of apps with vlc in its name as well. It does feature the official app at the top position though. In WP store, there is no official app yet.

acrodex said,
No, google play store has tons of apps with vlc in its name as well. It does feature the official app at the top position though. In WP store, there is no official app yet.
Well at least those on Android are free and seems to be working as well. Not paid and then links you to download from the official VLC website for free.

The one thing the Windows Store is great at compared to the iOS and Android stores is discoverability. It's so easy to find apps and it's nicely laid out. But the issue is just like the Google Play store, there's an increase in these fraudulent apps. I understand they made the verification process faster, but they need to actually see what their verifying too. These apps should not have been approved.

j2006 said,
But the issue is just like the Google Play store, there's an increase in these fraudulent apps.

I think Microsoft's situation is a bit worse because the publisher name is so buried. If they follow what Google has done with the Play Store and make the publisher name visible in the search results and more prominent on the app page it would make it easier for people to spot that the app isn't official.

It's surprising that they don't show the app creator right next to the app in that search (at least not in the screenshot). They do that in the Windows Phone store search and it makes it real easy to spot all the nonsense if the app name doesn't just give it away.

people need to have patience with the store. same problems with apple and google. and microsoft has to deal with it like they did.

dsbig said,
people need to have patience with the store. same problems with apple and google. and microsoft has to deal with it like they did.

Google doesn't certify apps, Microsoft does. There's no excuse for allowing endless duplicates and scams through. It's clearly done to artificially boost numbers.

simplezz said,

Google doesn't certify apps, Microsoft does. There's no excuse for allowing endless duplicates and scams through. It's clearly done to artificially boost numbers.

And even on the playstore there isn't ten copies of vlc player for sale, Microsoft it's store looks like there is no filter at all.

rfirth said,

He's right. There isn't 10 copies of VLC player on the Google Playstore...

There's 30+!


I mean payed apps, I haven't seen a copy of vlc where someone is actually asking money for. And there is not a single copy of the original vlc app, all the apps you see are apps to stream videos from and to vlc and have nonthing to do with the original vlc app. Only exception I see is someone who built the vlc app from source and posted it so some people can get it when the original app isn't available at their location.

Someone reposting a mod of a app or a extension for a app isn't a huge problem but someone just reselling freeware is the problem.

I was setting up a new Asus laptop for my brothers neighbour's son, the laptop came preloaded with Windows 8.1 with Update 1. Its actually a nice out of box experience compared to Windows 8 GA. He asked me to set it up and configure it with the usual stuff. When I went to the store to look for VLC for Windows 8, I was shocked at the amount of apps that were pretending to be VLC, it took a lot of effort to find the official app. Microsoft needs to weed out the duplicates.

Slightly ontopic: Thomas Nigro, when do you plan to publish the VLC app for Windows 8 ARM and for WP8 in the store? There has been another month passed by.

At least I want to run VLC for the first time on my Surface 1 RT tablet and Nokia Lumia 920, both of them were bought in the same month (yes, I am talking about 2012 December OMG) when you guys @ VLC started the Kickstarter fundraising project for the development of this new Windows 8 platform. In the passed 20 months you guys failed to produce a damn version for ARM, and while there is an x86/x64 version in the Windows 8 store since this year (2014, not 2013) February, the x86/x64 version is an unreliable crap.

The latest news was in end of July, that in 1-2 weeks there will be an update. As the readers can imagine, nobody believes these type of comments anymore.

https://www.kickstarter.com/pr...user-experience-metro/posts
The latest July 31st post is secret to backers only.

Providing a boost to "official" apps in the search results and in placement in the Windows Store pages would seem to be almost a requirement... and certainly a relatively easy thing to do. Even to the point of marking the apps as "Official" or something.

Boosting higher reviewed apps over lower reviewed apps in search results is also something that would be useful (by default).

I think Microsoft has enough apps in its stores now that it shouldn't fear purging some of the most obvious and worst scams... and damaging its "total app number" status.

Also the date the app was added should have an influence on the search results, if it hasn't been flagged yet you'd think it would have a higher chance of being legit...?

"Article"
More so, if you click on the wrong one, it will cost you $2.49 to download an 'app' that provides you with a download link to the desktop application. There is no value for this app and yet Microsoft has let it through its filters and is live in the Windows Store.

Dude... seriously... 0_o

How is it even allowed to steal other programs' names and use them for your own app? Multiple apps with VLC in their names?

Isn't that supposed to be illegal?

Isn't this whole fake app publishing a criminal act in a way?

Ripping off branding and content is, sure, illegal, but it can also be difficult to prosecute (speaking generally). In addition, last I checked, Microsoft allows rips to be reported - but you must sign off that you're the author or a legal representative of the author when you fill out the report.

Yeah they made it illegal but I believe the companies actually have to file for a complaint.

If they are not going to do it themselves, I wish they introduced an 'official' badge.

We have companies getting millions of links removed from search engines every week, but they can't remove a few fakes at the top of Windows Store search results???

I guess the developer could try and claim they're adding value by making it easier to install a given application - that would be a stretch for sure.

I've seen people selling IE on burned CD's/DVD's on eBay. That one still perplexes me. If you need IE, you probably have an Internet connection...

It's not illegal to redistribute GPL apps like VLC for a fee, but I have a feeling some of these people are making nefarious modifications and also it's clear they are misrepresenting their modified product by taking the copyrighted icon and name of the original VLC.

shastasheen said,
Oooh - I'm going to go buy Google Chrome for 1.99.

Because you said that, I went to the store and searched for Chrome. One of the options is an App called InstallGoogleChrome for $4.99. The same maker has an Install VLC Win 8.1 app for $1.49

The real proof will come when there is considerable change to the store to remove all of the apps that try to deceive users, but for now, Microsoft is at least acknowledging the issue. Of course, for Microsoft, it's a numbers game too as they want to be able to say that they have X number of apps in their stores as they compete against Google and Apple. But, if your entire store is mostly filled with garbage, is it better to say that you have a small quantity of quality apps, or an even larger quantity of crappy apps?

They could just make a new category and call it crappy apps, throw all these under it, and still get to play the numbers game.

zhangm said,

They could just make a new category and call it crappy apps, throw all these under it, and still get to play the numbers game.

Or just don't certify the spam/clones? Microsoft is approving each and every one of those scam apps. I don't to buy from a company like that.

Why would a developer invest time and money into a walled garden platform/store that doesn't even protect them from clones? iOS does.

This is the same problem Apple and Google had when their App Stores started up. Lots of crap apps, (175 versions of a fart app). MS does need to start getting a handle on this though.

I think the problem outlined in the article is worse than a large number of silly apps.

I'd be wary of using this store if I were a successful developer due to the risk of someone simply re-using my brand and nothing being done about it.

When is someone going to ask Microsoft about this? This kind of problem is really not defensible. Googling the name of an app would give you more reliable results than using this "organized" store.

I'd be wary of using this store if I were a successful developer due to the risk of someone simply re-using my brand and nothing being done about it.

I think this actually impacts developers who code successful apps on other platforms and do not make a Windows version. In the few cases that I've looked into, when an official app exists, it outcompetes rips when a user tries to find the app via search.

Northgrove said,
I think the problem outlined in the article is worse than a large number of silly apps.

I'd be wary of using this store if I were a successful developer due to the risk of someone simply re-using my brand and nothing being done about it.

When is someone going to ask Microsoft about this? This kind of problem is really not defensible. Googling the name of an app would give you more reliable results than using this "organized" store.


Yeah, but the same issue also applies the Google Play store on Android. This isn't an issue only with the Windows Store. But Windows does have the upperhand since the store is still fairly new they can easily weed those bad ones out. I just don't understand how they got approved in the first place.

The problem between The play store and the windows store is how it ranks apps in such a way that you will end up having some spam app outranking the official app. That happens and it makes the store experience crap.

Clirion said,
This is the same problem Apple and Google had when their App Stores started up. Lots of crap apps, (175 versions of a fart app). MS does need to start getting a handle on this though.

If you do a search for real estate companies on iOS, some realtors have an app for each state or specific region rather than having one app and you select the region. That's just one example but the point is that all app stores for any OS will have crap apps. How many of the 900,000+ iOS apps or Android apps are crap apps? I bet lots of them are.

Clirion said,
This is the same problem Apple and Google had when their App Stores started up. Lots of crap apps, (175 versions of a fart app). MS does need to start getting a handle on this though.

There is an overwhelming number of absolute crap apps trying to pose as 1st party apps on the Windows Store. Much more of a problem on Windows than on other platforms. My step-daughter recently switched from iPhone to Windows Phone and she loves her new phone but her biggest complaint is how terrible the Store app is. The whole app is filled with essentially spam.

The Windows Store itself is a crap app. Most of the time it gives me errors saying it cannot connect!

Yes, I still have issues with store.

1. Sometimes gets stuck on loading screen and I'm forced to close and reopen; sometimes more than once.

2. Sometimes it says there is an update. I go to the update page, install the update and the number goes away, but when I go back to home page, it again says there is an update.

3. occasionally, while hovering over an app listing, it shows double outlines and clicking doesn't register.

The Window Store itself is much better at discoverability than the iOS and Android app stores. But yes there are connectivity issues sometimes (on the Windows version not the phone version).

Tomo said,
The Windows Store itself is a crap app. Most of the time it gives me errors saying it cannot connect!

It will do that if your region/date/time is incorrect and possibly if Windows isn't activated (not assuming you are pirating btw).

Steven P. said,

It will do that if your region/date/time is incorrect and possibly if Windows isn't activated (not assuming you are pirating btw).
It does it on my Surface Pro 2 (using out of the box Windows setup), and on my desktop (with a legit copy of W8.1 Pro).

The store is an interesting model and does have potential to match the App. store like on OS X (or even Ubuntu), but in it's current state, it's just suboptimal all around.

Out of the box settings will most likely mean it is set to US Western timezone :p All new Windows installs are set to the US Pacific region until you change it You may want to check it.

tsupersonic said,
It does it on my Surface Pro 2 (using out of the box Windows setup), and on my desktop (with a legit copy of W8.1 Pro).

The store is an interesting model and does have potential to match the App. store like on OS X (or even Ubuntu), but in it's current state, it's just suboptimal all around.


Strange, I have both the desktop Windows and Surface Pro. Never had connectivity issues at all to the Windows Store.

Steven P. said,
Out of the box settings will most likely mean it is set to US Western timezone :p All new Windows installs are set to the US Pacific region until you change it You may want to check it.
Really, I mean really? The region/timezone settings are correct. I meant out of the box Windows setup as in a legitimate Windows copy that came with the SP2).

SJTWD said,

Strange, I have both the desktop Windows and Surface Pro. Never had connectivity issues at all to the Windows Store.

Me neither.

Steven P. said,

It will do that if your region/date/time is incorrect and possibly if Windows isn't activated (not assuming you are pirating btw).

Will also have issues if you disable UAC.

Steven P. said,
Out of the box settings will most likely mean it is set to US Western timezone :p All new Windows installs are set to the US Pacific region until you change it You may want to check it.

I still can't understand why the option to change the time zone isn't available during installation. Why would they remove it, or did they just forget? :|

eddman said,

I still can't understand why the option to change the time zone isn't available during installation. Why would they remove it, or did they just forget? :|

not sure why it was removed initially but it was put back for the 8.1 oobe

Brando212 said,
not sure why it was removed initially but it was put back for the 8.1 oobe

What? Do you mean 8.1 or 8.1 with update? Is it edition dependent? I didn't see it when I installed the 8.1 enterprise.

eddman said,

What? Do you mean 8.1 or 8.1 with update? Is it edition dependent? I didn't see it when I installed the 8.1 enterprise.

hmm i could have sworn i saw the option when i was installing 8.1 recently but i might have been installing the version w/ the update (i mess around w/ VMs enough that it starts to blend together :p)

The "Windows Store" application could use some work. For instance, even though I have an English version of Windows 8 installed Windows Store will display only reviews in another language (because some of my regional settings are set to non-English speaking region). I just hate it so much when a) an application tries to guess the region based on God knows what (whether it's time-zone, OS language pack, regional settings or keyboard); b) doesn't provide a way to change the region!

Steven P. said,

It will do that if your region/date/time is incorrect and possibly if Windows isn't activated (not assuming you are pirating btw).

Windows time is spot on, Windows is activated and yes I do know what i'm doing, it's my job ;)