Microsoft removes 1500 apps from Windows Store, will refund anyone who purchased them

During the past couple of weeks, there has been a focus on the fact that Microsoft's Windows Store was full of apps that were misleading or offered no value; they only existed to scam consumers. Microsoft initially responded that they would take a closer look at the situation and is now finally making good on that promise.

The company posted up on the Building Apps for Windows blog that they are introducing new certification requirements to help thwart these apps from ever making it into the Windows Store. These three new changes are listed below:

  • Naming – to clearly and accurately reflect the functionality of the app.
  • Categories – to ensure apps are categorized according to the app function and purpose.
  • Icons – must be differentiated to avoid being mistaken with others.

This revised policy is being applied to all new app submissions and existing app updates for both Windows and Windows Phone stores. Microsoft says that they have already started the process of looking back at prior approved apps and are targeting ones that are found to be in violation of these new polices too.

While they said that most developers have been receptive to the changes and had good intentions, by agreeing to change their current app, others have not been happy about the change. Because of this, Microsoft has removed over 1500 apps as a part of this review and will refund any money spent by consumers on these apps since they were determined to be misleading.

The store review process is on-going and the company says that they have more work to do. More so, they know that they need to identify problem apps faster to avoid this situation and they will continue to work to find the right balance between approving an app quickly and thoroughly vetting all submissions.

Source: Microsoft 

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51 Comments

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While I applaud the effort to remove junk programs they should have never even made it there in the first place.

Go look at the top rated apps right now, every other app is a 'videos' application...yep, one for each artist apparently. Junk Apps are Junk

Good, I hope we are entering an era of quality over quantity, how many VLC media players do we need and other scam crap?

Remove as many as they want there are only like what 10 apps or less that are of any real use and a few games.

They should remove all those wallpaper, screensaver, alarm clocks, calender, diet plan etc etc apps.. who actually uses them anyway?

I tend to agree, however Google & Apple have enough feed back / ratings in place plus quantity of quality apps the it's easy to find the cream at the top so to speak.

With MS, it's hard to find good apps (outside Microsoft/Nokia apps) and mediocre to poor show up on some of the top lists.

And its best to have lots of apps and a sollid percentage of quality apps. You don't attract quality app makers without attracting lots of turds. This is true for all platforms. So when Microsoft has plenty of apps the perception is that there will be a sollid percentage of quality apps as well. If Microsoft has few apps on their platforms, the perception is that there also won't be a lot of quality apps.

Not that removing a few thousand apps will have a large impact. This simply is good for the platform as well as its reputation.

It's my hope that in addition to removing bogus apps that have already been published, that they raise their standards for approving the apps in the first place. It's good to see, however, that Microsoft is beginning to respond to consumer pressure - definitely a step in the right direction to making the Windows store more useful.

They could, but that would bring the store numbers down to a 10th of what it is right now, and they won't be able to make claims like '94% growth last year, etc', so it is highly unlikely.

recursive said,
They could, but that would bring the store numbers down to a 10th of what it is right now, and they won't be able to make claims like '94% growth last year, etc', so it is highly unlikely.

now that you mention it, i wonder they will trumpetting this 'reverse growth' anytime soon?

Hmm... they seem to have removed some of those fake VLC apps. There are still many other fakes left though.

One of the worst offenders I can see is Digital Cloud Technologies LLC, with at least three fake QuickTime apps.

The lengths these scum go to make a quick buck out of gullible people.

They need to make it easier to report these things. I tried reporting fake apps but it sent me to some thing to prove I was the owner of the intellectual property.

Type comment here...

I think they've changed it, because I easily reported a few through the "report this app for violating the store's terms of use" form and it didn't ask for anything.

eddman said,
I think they've changed it, because I easily reported a few through the "report this app for violating the store's terms of use" form and it didn't ask for anything.

Check your email. I got sent the same thing when I tried reporting those VLC apps. I gave up when my emails failed to go through.

eddman said,
Hmm... they seem to have removed some of those fake VLC apps. There are still many other fakes left though.

One of the worst offenders I can see is Digital Cloud Technologies LLC, with at least three fake QuickTime apps.

The lengths these scum go to make a quick buck out of gullible people.

Assuming there was actually a physical person checking the submissions because such obvious examples of trademark infringement and fraud should have been picked up within seconds. The question left unasked is this - is there actually a person checking the application or are they relying on automated checking and a human only gets involved when the computer algorithm marks something as suspect thus needs human intervention?

Dot Matrix said,

Check your email. I got sent the same thing when I tried reporting those VLC apps. I gave up when my emails failed to go through.

Ahhh, didn't know that. Just checked; got 2 emails.
Well, I'd just report them as malware then, which they are, in a sense.

I can vouch that they actually have testers checking every app.

Edit.

I should add that my update submissions are taking a lot longer to go through nowadays. Just a few weeks ago and before, whenever I submitted an update to my app it always go through within a few hours and be in the store a couple hours after that. Nowadays, it's been taking at least 2 days to get certified and another day to be published. At first, I thought they were targeting me, but now I can see that they are being more careful with submitted apps.

Microsoft gave me a refund on such an app a long time ago, this is really nothing new. Though removing them from the store is. Great news!!!

They also need to do something about apps/games that just do not work, e.g. Draw Something.

People have been complaining about it since at least May, yet it's still available at a price, with no demo.

Left feedback and reported it.

Zynga are ###### for not fixing it, and for not bringing Candy Crush to Windows Phone. (gf still plays it every day on her laptop).

You know if you pay for an app which dosnt work you can report it and request a refund?

Well I know there is an option for the AUS store that is,

I expect that the "unofficial" apps market will remain largely untouched. There's a big market for 3rd party clients on all the major app stores specifically because in some cases they can offer native experience and general usability improvements over the official counterparts (think of the offical Instagram client vs 6tag).

The only cases where there might be issues is where the app masquerades as the official app, or where the app otherwise serves to mislead customers (e.g. a paid installer for VLC).

They were probably already looking into these before, and it was just recently revealed that they will do such action. Kudos to them though!

It's a start. Hopefully they'll allow us to choose what languages we want to see on the store, so I don't see any more Chinese stuff.

dead.cell said,
This is why it's good to be critical guys. Microsoft doesn't improve automagically, they need feedback from their user base.

Constructive criticism and constructive feedback are essential (going too far, is not). Since MS seem to be on a feedback taking spree, there is little excuse for end users not to jump into the appropriate places and share their issues/feature requests.

I don't mean forums or comment sections, I mean seeking out the 'official' feedback channels.

We have guys from Microsoft that browse this forum, make no mistake. We have to promote our community too. :)

Edited by dead.cell, Aug 28 2014, 1:36pm :

dead.cell said,
We have guys from Microsoft that browse this forum, make no mistake. We have to promote our community too. :)

I'm sure there are, but MS has created all of those user voice sections in order to better organize and prioritize feedback.

Awesome. Whilst the process needs to stop these apps appearing in the first instance, it's good they have not only acknowledged the problem, but are putting their money where their mouth is (literally)