Since the past few months, Microsoft has been cautioning developers to update their apps with new Windows Store age ratings or risk having them removed by the end of this month. However, another process the company hasn't been publicizing is the fact that it has started cleaning up the Windows Store in an effort to remove low quality apps - similar to what Apple announced yesterday.
Since the past couple of days, the company has been sending out emails to various developers, informing them that their apps have been unpublished from the Windows Store due to poor quality. In its latest review of the Store, Microsoft is evaluating if the published apps are good enough to be listed in the Windows Store. This includes publicly available apps as well as private beta apps. Additionally, Microsoft is also asking affected developers to delete any promotional campaigns for their apps to prevent advertising charges. Similarly, app name reservations are also being nullified; which means that if your app is unpublished, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to republish it under the same name.
The company states that affected apps have been unpublished because of failure to comply with the following app quality policies:
- Your app must have distinct and informative metadata.
- Your app must provide a valuable and quality user experience.
Specific criteria that might apply to your app:
- Make sure the title doesn’t use a name similar to another app or service.
- Use an app title that is distinctive and readable.
- Use an icon that uniquely identifies the app, so it's easy to distinguish from other apps.
- Provide a description that’s clear, appropriately concise and easy to understand.
- Use a description that gives customers enough information about your app to understand what it does.
- Make sure the description is accurate about the features and functionality in your app.
- Choose screenshots that give customers useful information about what your app does and highlight key features.
- Make sure your screenshots accurately illustrate the features and content in the app.
- Provide a valuable app experience for customers.
- In a crowded segment of the Store, provide additional value compared to other apps.
While the move might appear harsh, particularly given the fact that Microsoft hasn't warned the developers before removing their apps, it is important to note that this isn't the first time this is happening. Back in June 2015, the company aggressively cleaned up the Windows Store in an effort to provide a quality experience for its users. However, as we noted back then, Microsoft seemingly removed some high-quality apps by accident as well.
With that being said, the initiative is understandable seeing that many people have complained about spam, low-quality and cloned apps in the Windows Store. However, it'll be interesting to see how this impacts the overall number of apps in the Windows Store, particularly after the age ratings deadline expires at the end of September as well.