Microsoft pledges rogue app purge from its Windows Store, with 1,500 ‘misleading’ products already removed
Microsoft is addressing the bane of modern day app stores, with a pledge to ‘recalibrate’ its Windows Store by ridding it of ‘misleading’ apps.
And, so far, it has removed more than 1,500 apps in an effort to improve customer experiences of the Windows platform.
The problem stems from the fact that Windows Store has some fake apps, uploaded by unscrupulous developers, that seek to “game the system with misleading titles or descriptions”. These counterfeit apps essentially seek to trick users into buying what they think is a legitimate title, by utilising the same icon or similar sounding app title as the legitimate version.
But now Microsoft is tackling this issue and in a blog posting, revealed it will implement three changes to its app certification process.
“Earlier this year we heard loud and clear that people were finding it more difficult to find the apps they were searching for; often having to sort through lists of apps with confusing or misleading titles,” said Microsoft. “We took the feedback seriously and modified the Windows Store app certification requirements as a first step toward better ensuring that apps are named and described in a way that doesn’t misrepresent their purpose.”
The first change concerns naming, and Windows apps will, in future, have to “clearly and accurately reflect the functionality of the app.” The second change change concerns categories, to “ensure apps are categorised according to the app function and purpose.
The third and final change is to do with icons, which must now “be differentiated to avoid being mistaken with others.”
Microsoft said that it has been reviewing both its Windows and Windows Phone Store to identify titles that do not comply with its modified certification requirements. It said that most developers with good intentions agreed to make the necessary changes when notified that their apps violate Microsoft’s policies.
However, some did not, and Microsoft has already removed more than 1,500 apps. Redmond has also promised to refund any users who paid for a misleading app.
“The Store review is ongoing and we recognize that we have more work to do, but we’re on it,” said Microsoft. “We’re applying additional resources to speed up the review process and identify more problem apps faster. No approach is perfect, so we encourage people to report any issues they may encounter with Windows Store.”
Microsoft is not alone in having a number of rogue products in its App store.
Apple is recognised as placing the toughest restrictions and conditions on its developer community for the Apple App Store, but even it gets caught out. Earlier in the year Apple settled with the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over an in-app purchases dispute. And despite the fact that it has many millions of apps in its App Store, it is swamped with countless apps that are rarely, if ever, downloaded by users.
Google Play meanwhile has also had its fair share of problems. In December 2012, Trend Micro warned that Google Play was riddled with malware, after it found 455 malicious apps on the official Android marketplace. Trend also discovered a select group of 17 rogue applications had been downloaded over 700,000 times. Some of those apps tracked users’ location, calls and messages.
But it has been suggested that Microsoft has not done itself any favours when one of its promotions in 2013 to get more apps published in its App stores, saw Redmond pay developers $100 (£60) for every finished app, regardless of the time spend developing it. Critics argue that promotions like that does little to ensure that a high quality of app is maintained for the Windows platforms.
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