Microsoft responds to 'App spamming' complaints, adds caps

It was just yesterday that our own Richard Edmonds wrote an editorial here lamenting the sudden influx of many apps in the Marketplace from a single publisher. You may have seen this yourself, where the Marketplace under "New" is suddenly flooded with 50 apps that are all the same but "vary" by region.

We weren't the only blog to complain about it and your comments were unified: this was bad practice on Microsoft's part and it should be addressed sooner than later, otherwise we'll have another Android marketplace on our hands--and no one wants that.

Just 24 hours later, Microsoft has responded to the complaints via their Windows Phone Developer Blog. Todd Brix wrote up the piece and we have to commend Microsoft for both being quick and forthcoming on the process and their reasoning. They then present an fairly even-handed solution in two parts:

1. "To avoid the scenario where bulk publishing crowds out other apps in Marketplace in the future, effective immediately, we are limiting the number of apps any one developer can have certified in a single day to 20. Developers creating a large number of apps can still submit all of them for certification, but they will be certified at a maximum rate of 20 per day rather than all at once."

While 20 may still seem a lot, a cap is better than no cap and we hope that we rarely see as many apps from a single publisher. We imagine if it's still a problem, Microsoft could just as easily reduce that number. In fact, in order to prevent a developer from needlessly publishing apps, Microsoft has a part two as a solution to the problem:

2. "In addition, we are reaching out to the companies who most recently published a large number of apps with similar functionality in a short period of time. We’re offering to work with these developers to explore how they can better take advantage of the Windows Phone platform to improve the functionality of their apps and reduce the need for large numbers of similar apps."

By themselves, neither of these measures would be that effective, but combined we see this one-two punch to be a fair way to better control this ongoing issue and ensure a pleasant Marketplace experience. But now that Microsoft has said something, what do you folks think? We think MS deserves a lot credit for their response. You?

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog; Thanks, Aleksandr K./Arktronic, for the tip!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Good job Microsoft!
  • Hooray!!
  • I think we still need to know how some of these "apps" are making it into the marketplace to begin with. Has anyone from Microsoft noticed the actual spam apps like the one Richard pointed out?
  • as long as they meet the requirements of an app they can get excepted...even though they might be spam
  • But the requirements need to include (if they don't already) points regarding app quality and functionality to ensure spam apps are not permitted. This has been the case in the iPhone appstore for years - plenty of submissions have been rejected based on the app not actually providing enough functionality.
  • it's a step in the right direction. at least they're going to work with developers in helping them out (even though i doubt the lazy jerks who made all those real estate and other spam apps did it out of not knowing how to make a good app) instead of pulling an apple and just denying people for no reason.they still have a ways to go, but this semi-open door policy is looking good so far.those super spam apps need to be revoked and the people in charge of letting them through need to be reprimanded for not doing their job.i would much rather have an app store with 100,000 apps that are good, than an app store with 900,000 apps, where 600,000 of them are ****
  • wait, c r a p is a censored word?!
  • ****
  • Wow, the fact that they're even willing to talk to devs and help them make their apps better shows the level of respect MS has for their devs, and rightfully so I say, apps are a big part of smartphone strategy in this day and age. And while there are a lot of devs out there, I'd like to think taking advantage of them will eventually collectively come back to bite you in the butt.
  • Great push from MS, but they still have a ways to go. It's fantastic to hear that they're working with developers. I'm now wondering if they'll prune out bad apps, like the SPAM one. Hopefully they'll continue with their June 3rd app requirement update and they plug the floodgates once and for all.Also, 20 is still too much. I can't see why any developer would/should submit 20 apps in one day. 5-10 per day is much more reasonable, but even so I still can't imagine all of those being good quality... who knows. I'm not a developer =/
  • lol limit to 20 apps a day. i guess thats 2 steps forward 1 step back.Winning!
  • Yeah, but the caveat is if they see you doing it, they can contact you and work with you to make your app more efficient. In other words, it gives MS policing power over the matter.Just having this policy should cause some devs to re-think their approach to app spamming. That's my hope at least.
  • Ok, yeah, they responded quickly. That's great and all. But what about app-trolls (i.e. Eric_rulz)? The (illegitimate) apps should never have been approved in the first place, yet other apps are banned or sent back because they didn't pass QA, and apps like "Android" or "SPAM" (both of which serve absolutely no purpose) are left there. Something still needs to be done about that.
  • I think they should talk with the devs that are spamming the marketplace and they should start booting the apps if the devs don't want to clean them up.
  • Still not good enough, they should limit it to 5! I personally am fed up with seeing a load of new apps that are the same but with a different title.Also can wpc please do an article on the pricing of apps on wp7 and explain why the he'll they are 5 times the price of their iPhone version!!!!!
  • Thx for the info. Seem like some apps been pulled already.(ex. some real estate apps.)
  • Still a weak response.You're certifying these, Microsoft. Think about what that term means to users. Think about what they feel, then, when your store is full of spam. And think about how difficult it is to wade through that spam on a 3.8" screen.You don't need to be as strict as Apple, but you need to throw your weight around a little.
  • what u mean AS STRICt as apple? doesnt apple have 1 page check list for app release and they dont evan test them!! lol
  • They've blocked many apps for odd reasons, including finding them morally offensive (my term, not theirs.)
  • Personally, I hope Microsoft "strongly suggests" Smarter Agent consolodate all their apps into one. I also hope they nuke all but one the eric_rulz apps and tell him the new policy is only one "hello world" app in Marketplace.
  • they try to moderate spamming by allow Dev to SPAM 20 apps a DAY!?!? how the does that work? makes no sens,they should limit 1 app a WEAK! per DEV!! that's how u stop spamming . you dont stop spamming by putting a ridiculous Number.!and if you release 20 apps a day chances are your apps are probably HORRIBLY BUGGY and are not polished! people should maybe put more effort into releasing apps. instead of spamming 20 and hoping for $$$$
  • How about 1 app per WEAK DEV?I liked this quote from a New York Times story on Windows Phone 7 (“What is often missed is the diminishing returns after 1,000 applications,” says Thomas R. Eisenmann, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “If a platform attracts the thousand-most-popular apps, then it provides almost anything a reasonable person would want to do with a smartphone.”MS faces tremendous pressure to prove WP7 successful, but it still sucks that the media and buying public have latched onto the sheer number of applications as a yardstick. As a developer, I feel like 1) my products will have less chance of exposure and 2) Why should I bother crafting a useful, high-quality app when chances are MS will reject it over some niggling detail, meanwhile letting spammers pollute the store with C R A P?