Microsoft: We are 'working with content owners' on Windows Phone WebApp concerns

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Microsoft has been using content from mobile websites and placing them as "WebApps" on the Windows Phone Store. On Tuesday, Neowin reported that the Southwest Airlines WebApp has been removed by Microsoft, with Southwest telling us that the company had not "given them (Microsoft) approval to push our content." Later, we noticed that the Atari Arcade and Cars.com WebApps had also been taken down.

Neowin contacted Microsoft for a statement and this morning a spokesperson for the company send over a response. The statement said:

WebApps are an easy way to better connect our customers with popular websites through a good application-based experience, but we are also working with content owners to address any concerns they may raise.

The statement hints that Microsoft will now ask permission of website content owners before turning their sites into WebApps. We have asked Microsoft for a clarification.

The Next Web also got a statement from Microsoft, which was somewhat different. It said:

Web Apps drive more people to the company’s own website experience, as designed for mobile browsing, so we don’t anticipate many objections. We will move quickly to resolve any takedown requests we receive. Website owners are welcome to contact us at wpwebapps@microsoft.com. We’re being very transparent about what these apps are by publishing under the “Microsoft Web Apps” name and clearly describing them as website accessories in the descriptions.

While Microsoft may be "transparent" in its descriptions, the fact remains that these first WebApps were made without giving the content owners a heads-up beforehand. Hopefully Microsoft's policy on this has changed, but we will stay on top of this story to make sure.

Image via Microsoft

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11 Comments

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Maybe I'm not American, because none of those apps I care about. Blockbuster? isn't that store closing around the world?
Can some of you US citizen tell me if those apps in the list make a difference for you?

I don't see a big issue over this web apps by Microsoft. After all, of all the web apps made by MS only 3 or 4 request to take it down. Let's take Lowe's web apps, it's not even mobile friendly, pinch zoom gets tiresome. With web apps, it still connect to web but optimized it for phones. It's a win-win by satisfying the store browsing experience and Lowe's don't have to do squat.

I am looking forward for more web apps.

This is just an embarassing move by Microsoft. This looks so very desperate. At best it looks like they didnt ask permission because it was overlooked or assumed and at worst it looks like they didnt ask permission because they already knew the company didnt have an app and had no interest in making one.

So what's going on exactly? I looked up a few of the apps in the store identified in the screenshot in the article, and in each case "Published By" showed those respective companies--as in, they're the ones who put up those apps, not Microsoft.

Surely MS would not be so idiotic as to write some dumb web wrapper app, publish it to the store and then misrepresent a third-party company claiming it's their own?

If I search by publisher, and look for anything created by MS, I'm not seeing any of this crapware...

Webapps are not the greatest thing! but I think they are good to show website owners that their app is needed on the platform (if people actually use the webapp). Look at what happened with Instagram. Nokia created InstagramWithLove, 3rd party developers created apps for it, and now instagram will create the official one. It is the same recipe but with webapps.

I believe that the idea begins these apps was to allow users to have an app that could be upgraded to the full feature version if the company ever wanted to make a windows phone app. This would also allow Microsoft to have metrics to show these companies that yes, users want their apps.

I really don't understand why MS wants these in its store. Apple specifically banned such apps and told people that simple browser wrappers should not be on the appstore (I'm sure there's some left but new ones shouldn't be able to make it past the review).

Webapps don't offer anything beyond what a simple homescreen bookmark can offer (I'm sure WP supports that right?)

Shows you the state of both ecosystems. One where everyone wants in and the other where everyone wants out. Consequently, the owners of the former get to pick and choose while the latter have to beg and pray.

Yes, Windows Phone supports pining websites to the home screen, just in the same way you can in Windows 8. You'll even get a nice icon if the site supports it, and on Windows Phone a preview if it doesn't.

I don't understand why Microsoft is intent on releasing wrapper apps either. Very poor idea. I get really annoyed when I download an app only to find it's a wrapper... but not as annoyed as when Microsoft doesn't follow it's own UI guide lines in apps, something I can at least forgive wrappers for.

It seems like Microsoft has done some research that suggests users prefer apps to webpages regardless of if they're better or not.... maybe the Apple's mentality of 'there's an app for that' is just too strong now and Microsoft are simply trying to win over users with small tactics.

"I don't understand why Microsoft is intent on releasing wrapper apps either. "

Because the number one complaint consumers and tech reviewers have over Windows Phone 8 is a lack of apps. By taking this step, Microsoft gives the impression that major apps are available even if they are just links to mobile sites. In addition, if WP8 owners use these links it provides move traffic to the content owner's site providing some evidence that they need to support WP8 and Win8 with apps.

sagum said,

It seems like Microsoft has done some research that suggests users prefer apps to webpages regardless of if they're better or not.... maybe the Apple's mentality of 'there's an app for that' is just too strong now and Microsoft are simply trying to win over users with small tactics.
Apps are better.... but webapps are actually worse. Littering the store with junk like that will frustrate users (especially if other platforms have full featured apps for these sites/companies)