Developers react to Microsoft's plan to shut down its UWP Ad Monetization platform

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Laptop with Office 365 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • UWP developers expressed frustration with Microsoft regarding its communication about the Ad Monetization program.
  • Microsoft announced that the program will shut down on June 1, 2020.
  • The announcement came in a brief forum post rather than a full-length blog post.

Earlier today, Microsoft announced that the Microsoft Ad Monetization program for UWP apps will shut down on June 1, 2020. Now, developers and UWP users around the web are discussing the status of the Universal Windows Platform and what the changes mean for developers.

While Microsoft directed people to start migrating to other ad platforms, it did not highlight any specific alternatives. Furthermore, the announcement came in a short forum post that led many developers to criticize Microsoft for poor communication.

We reached out to developers and took a look at some of the prevalent opinions appearing online. Here are some of the immediate reactions to the news from the UWP development community.

Sergio Pedri, the developer behind Legere (opens in new tab) states,

Personally, while I can see how this was a "necessary" thing to do for MS, if maintaining the service was no longer viable for them, I do feel like they've lost yet another occasion to show proper communication with developers on their platform. This is once again hurting developers' trust in the ecosystem, and that's not good. Also, the lack of alternatives is an issue for lots of small indie devs that heavily relied on ads as their main source of income.

Arlo, the developer behind Spotimo (opens in new tab) and a well-known UWP Community leader states,

When it comes to the community, the main pain point here is a lack of deeper communication with devs as to why something that seemed essential is getting the axe. There isn't much for real alternatives, so we feel like a proper explanation is in order, at the very least.

Fons Sonnemans, a Microsoft MVP and UWP developer shared a strong opinion on the change from Microsoft.

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Yair, the developer behind QuickPad (opens in new tab) states,

The main issue that bothers me is how this and other recent developments with UWP were communicated. I would reiterate what [others] said, how the lack of proper communication confuses and hurts developers. Revenue from ads themselves are pretty low, and the fill rates have been bad for a long time, many developers just used it to drive in-app purchases, but there needs to be a proper alternative as well as better communication.

Matthew, one of Quarrel's (opens in new tab) developers states,

I think it is really disappointing to see Microsoft do this without any proper explanation however there are alternatives, UWP will live on, and I will continue to develop for the platform.

Lance McCarthy, a Microsoft MVP, shared his thoughts on Twitter, including this reaction to the initial news.

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Niels Laute, the developer behind Huetro (opens in new tab) states,

Although I don't use or like ads myself, they are part of a Store ecosystem and developer story. Pulling the plug (without any clear alternatives) on this doesn't send an encouraging signal to existing and new developers. And apparently only because of... what, server costs? They run one of the biggest ad platforms in the world with Bing! Weird timing also, just before the launch of Neo and 10X. And millions of new potential customers that are going to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. And a few months after they make the developer payout better for devs (from 30-70 to 15-85). We know the Store is far from what the iOS/Android versions are... but this is just weird. And another chapter of the confusing and inconsistent Store/developer story on Windows 10.

A developing story about developers

The news of Microsoft's change regarding ad monetization is still fresh. We'll have to see if Microsoft responds to the internet backlash and what it says before we can weigh in fully. For now, developers are in many forums and on Twitter discussing how to move forward with app development and if the upcoming change affects them.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

29 Comments
  • The communication is badly done but if MS has no ads business anymore that sounds like a good thing for the privacy of Windows Store users. Less incentive for user profiling for ads on MS's part.
  • Thing is, developers still need to eat and have a source of revenue. I personally don't mind ads and I don't even use ad blockers (unless a site's ads adversely affect my computer's battery life) because I know that's how they put food on the table and respect that. With that said, this move by Microsoft will further diminish its standing among developers when they should practically be doing everything short of giving them head to get more of them on board developing quality UWP Windows Store apps. Yeah, there's always the Win32 ones but I want to see UWP succeed.
  • @Culex318 In my opinion Microsoft has just jump into the manure pile and is bathing in it. After all Windows 10X will not run legacy code which means no native Win32 support at all. Emulation is nowhere near the performance people need from complex win32 applications. PWAs are nowhere close either... so all that was left is UWA but given Microsoft just blasted that platform to smithereens along with almost all developer trust. What else is there? ios and android apps? Please... we are years away of anything remotely close to replacing complex win32 applications with mobile apps. Microsoft could have baked the support for other platforms like AdDuplex into the SDK for the duo and into the UWA framework if they were going to pull a stunt like this.... idioctic decision. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to find a bottomless pit to shout expletives into until I lose my voice.
  • This is an error message - noscript test.
  • Huh? Windows 10X WILL run Win32 apps, and they won't be "emulated" if the Windows 10X device in question runs on an Intel chipset, the Win32 apps will just run in a "container" if I'm not mistaken.
  • We don't really know how that will work. They will certainly be limitations.
  • @Culex316 that is a big IF and also 10X was supposed to doing away with legacy win32 code completely. Hence why Microsoft is having developers recompile their win32 applications for ARM. However that is one only one aspect of the app ecosystem for 10X, it needs pure native apps that can utilise the hardware and not rely on connected experiences like PWAs. Otherwise what is the point of such premium hardware when it's not going to be utilised - especially the Surface Neo - the Surface line as supposed to be aspirational devices pushing the forefront computing and setting the standards for OEMS to follow. That was the primarily goal that Microsoft touted when they initially unveiled the Surface devices and in most cases they have succeeded. But this race to the bottom all for the sake of saving pennies across the company is hamstringing development not just across the company but across the PC space as a whole. Foldable devices will only work as best as the software it runs; as with out any means of interaction between the user and the hardware - the USPs for these foldable devices becomes moot. Furthermore do you really want the tech space to progress to a state that we are paying premium prices for processors that are not better than an intel celeron? Because that's we were will be headed as after all why you need a premium SOC when all the processsing is going to be done in the cloud? I for one do not want to live in a future that all of people's computing needs is attached to the cloud. Given not only the ethical ramifications these poses to user privacy but it also enables authoritarian regimes to be able literally censure free speech with a infrastructure kill switch that targets specific activists as well as tracking said activists 24/7 and in the most nightmarish scenario - alter data packets in real time thus putting words into people's mouths. All data packets are pieces of code and we all know how malleable software can be - especially if there is direct access to data nodes (data junctions if you will - as all internet infrastucture is effectively run in parallel with hardware interchange points). Some of you will say that is farfetched, but how farfetched was digital fakery (digital avatars) about 5 years ago? Also what happens when countries start tying the internet into the very fabric of people's lives? Now that is not farfetched, it's already been in place for some time. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/28/chinas-social-credit-syste... https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/27/china-taking-digit... https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-surveillance-big-dat... https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/01/china-bans-23m-discredited... https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-34592186 https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/china-social-c... I'm getting off the point here but what i'm trying to say you got to look at the bigger picture As Well as the small details as without these smaller jigsaw puzzles there is no picture. A person's interaction point regardless of company that makes the software is the key interaction point for everyone. It's become a fundamental portal through all ours are channelled, whether we like it or not. That software will either be a gateway to technological marvels and bliss or hell where users are bound without choice to their own detriment and to the benefit of a select few. Which is why competition is good it exposes the flaws and expands the horizions of what is possible thus setting open standards benefiting everyone.
  • There is a very high chance that W10X itself will at least be interesting as a niche product where MS product/Office, UWP and PWA and probably some kind of x86 translation (?) is enough for certain users.
    If it will be a mass adopted OS that is to be seen of course. However I do fully agree with your privacy concerns and want to add that Facebook and Google are even higher threats for this considering how user profiling plays a central role in their main income streams / products (ads, analytics etc.). But still info collected by MS and Apple can also fall into the wrong hands.
    Considering this only Windows and Linux and maybe MacOS are the best privacy OS'ses. Linux is self explanatory. W10 the most important telemetry stuff can be turned off and O&O ShutUp10 can do the rest if needed. MacOS I don't know if it can be fully turned off with a tool, otherwise it is similar to Windows. While I recently noticed how annoying it is to block trackers in e.g. Android and they are like everything (especially Google Analytics and Google Fire-something Analytics), pretty annoying. I hope 10X won't go that route but if it does at least we still have 10 and Linux.
  • Agreed baked in support for alternatives would have been a good idea. PWA is just at its footsteps so it is difficult to say how that will turn out, seems like a viable alternative to a lot of simpler Store apps though. Also 10X will most likely run x86 apps one way or the other.
  • There are still third-party ad services like AdDuplex and Vungle that devs can use for ads and UWP. Microsoft wasn't the only option.
  • Daniel, I'm aware :) it impacts mindset alot if Microsoft won't visibly support UWP. They could have baked alternatives into the SDK and slowly phased out their ad monetization platform as opposed to pulling the rug under the feet of developers.
  • Getting monetized ads via AdDuplex is very difficult. Vungle's ecpm for video ads does not come close to banner ads.
  • I don't mind static ads but I do mind modern ads though since basically they are disguised trackers and potential malware spreaders (even the W10 Weather app once linked to a sites that installed malware on your pc if you accidentally clicked the ad).
    Anyway ads are not the only way for devs to make money, you have stuff like subscriptions, paid apps and dlc etc.
  • You say there are "alternative" monetization strategies as, apparently, someone unaffected by the hurdles some developers face in trying to employ such alternatives. In some parts of the world (e.g. Australia, New Zealand) the governments there have decided in recent times to apply sales taxes to digital purchases. Developers in such countries must therefore register for a "tax number" from the appropriate government authority, which may only be possible by setting up a full-on registered business and, in fact, in these jurisdictions Microsoft won't even allow developers to add any form of paid component (e.g. add-on, subscription, etc.) without first supplying such a tax number. For an individual developer for whom developing and publishing apps is a sideline or hobby, this may be a significant additional bureaucratic burden just to earn a little extra income. Including ads in an app, however, is not typically affected by such rules and can therefore often be a hassle-free way to monetize an app if it isn't worth turning it into a business.
  • Interesting, did not know that difference. I agree this is a bummer for hobbyist devs. Maybe you should give MS feedback on it? Maybe they are just not aware of it, most likely they can't or won't do anything about but you never know (especially if other UWP devs raise the issue too).
    The alternative ad platforms or perhaps some kind of donation system might be possible quick fixesl.
  • So what apps is Windows 10X supposed to run?? Currently it appears Microsoft is under the illusion Windows 10X will survive primarily on wishful thinking.
  • What is the chance 10X even gets released at this rate? An Intel base light computing platform doesn't really make sense in 2020.
  • Why not? I mean the 10th generation chips have made a lot of progress in that regards
  • They still don't approach the efficiency is ARM. Windows Pro should be Intel with Windows 10X (Light) on ARM. It shouldn't be complicated like it is today.
  • "So what apps is Windows 10X supposed to run??" Why, all of the new apps that developers are racing to finish for it, of course. Don't you know? Developers LOVE Microsoft. They can't WAIT to invest in yet another MS pie-in-the-sky platform. After all, Microsoft knows how to treat developers! Developers have made millions - millions I say - over the last 10 years on Microsoft's exciting, extremely successful and popular new platforms. Phones, Surface Hub, Hololens, Windows 7 Gadgets, Windows RT, Windows 8, Windows on ARM, Windows 10S, UWP, The Microsoft Store. The sky is the limit! "Currently it appears Microsoft is under the illusion Windows 10X will survive primarily on wishful thinking" Of course. Why change a winning formula? Look how well all of the above did on wishful thinking.
  • @naddy6969 Lol man, nailed it! Thanks for the laugh.
  • Yeah, I am not a developer, but it must be an absolute nightmare for them to have to keep up with Microsoft constantly creating new platforms, it seems like there's something new every few years. I feel it would have been particularly irritating on Windows Phone.
  • MS did push the reset button several times which is annoying but this isn't the same though, UWP still gets updates by MS (I can see it still gets updates in Visual Studio).
    Also while the platform gets reset, the programming language and .NET / libraries mostly stay the same. So some things are different but not by far not everything (e.g. the older WPF and newer UWP share XAML for interface etc. but the syntax/code to open e.g. a file is slightly different, as in more outdated in WPF and more developer friendly in the newer UWP platform).
    The plaform resets seemed to be mostly annoying/damaging in the early WP days.
  • The point is, developers are no longer trying to "keep up with Microsoft". They have moved on to greener pastures. Coincidentally, pastures that DON'T get plowed under and replanted every 3 years with a new, incompatible crop.
  • "UWP will live on, and I will continue to develop for the platform." Then you are a damn fool. Why ANYONE still thinks UWP has any future has not been paying attention for the last 3 years.
  • As Windows is more and more UWP operating system with each release (with many fundamental things made / soon to be made with UWP), technically speaking there is no possible retreat from UWP for Microsoft as long as there is Windows which is to stay at least for some time. Regarding monetization that's quite another thing, and it is not technical/UWP related.
  • Yeah all those people are damn fools, lets just ignore that UWP still gets updated by MS in Visual Studio for developers. Oh wait...
  • I’m not a developer. But this reminds me yet again of how MS half heartedly put out a good product with a lot of potential but abandoned it without giving it a lot support And leaving a lot of die hard fans feeling left in a lurch.
    I’m not going to debate the right or wrong of it Or the “it makes good business sense”. But to me it adds to the perception of how MS has a history of dumping their products too soon.
    When Google announced Stadia what did everyone talk about, including Daniel Rubino? They talked about why get it when Google will probably dump the product in a year.
    MS better be careful.
  • We've been developing apps since Windows 8 beta with the Ad SDK. Things went downhill quickly once Satya decided to outsource many of the development components, especially the Ad SDK. There were so many breaking bugs introduced and to this day blank ads are still be served in their inventory. The same goes for Visual Studio. It's largely outsourced and the quality has likewise suffered to the point where it can be difficult to build a UWP or even edit your XAML without the editor throwing an unhandled exception. But on the bright side Microsoft is putting a lot of money into going zero carbon /s.