The Microsoft Store has long been the subject of ridicule since its inception back in the Windows 8 days. First, it was the lack of quality apps. Then, it was the lack of quality — well, anything. The platform that the Microsoft Store on Windows uses still isn't fit for purpose, with poor search features, glitchy content delivery mechanisms, and a flood of useless crApps that exist purely to inflate numbers. However, there is light at the end of this very long, painful, miserable tunnel.
With Windows 11, Microsoft is finally revamping the store, complete with a new UI and updated backend systems. Microsoft is also courting app developers on PC, offering them up to 100% of their revenue for the first time, in a world-beating move that defies both iOS and Google Play.
However, despite the positive change, there remains a big ol' elephant in the virtual room: those shovelware apps. Ranging from Windows 8 leftovers to outright pirated content, the Microsoft Store is a wasteland of truly awful content that should be avoided at all costs, by most people. So, what would be the obvious quick-hit solution towards solving this problem?
A verified badge for the app store!
I am by no means a graphic designer, but a quick mockup in Photoshop shows how a verified badge might look. Like Twitter or not, the verified badge has become a globally recognized symbol of authenticity, and Microsoft should seriously consider it here.
This article is actually inspired by a tweet from @ALumia_Italia on Twitter, who reflected something myself and many others in the community have thought about for a long time. Why doesn't Microsoft have a verified publisher badge on its store? This would inform users very easily what content met a baseline level of quality, while also informing users which apps were actually genuine, rather than knockoff junk that could potentially be harmful in some ways.
Dear Microsoft, since removing fake apps is too challenging, what about adding the publisher name under the app names? And what about a blue verified badge for the most known apps (like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube etc)? pic.twitter.com/gDLfp2irAzDear Microsoft, since removing fake apps is too challenging, what about adding the publisher name under the app names? And what about a blue verified badge for the most known apps (like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube etc)? pic.twitter.com/gDLfp2irAz— Aggiornamenti Lumia (@ALumia_Italia) July 3, 2021July 3, 2021
A verified badge for the Microsoft Store wouldn't solve every issue the store still has, like poor curation, weak search tools, bad filtering, and generally low quality, but it would help to highlight the quality apps that do exist on the storefront. If indeed, there are enough apps worthy of receiving a badge.
Of course, there would need to be a vetting process for how and who gets verified. The last thing Microsoft will likely want to do is alienate smaller independent developers. I'd argue that both larger firms and independent creators who meet a baseline level of quality should be eligible for a badge. MyTube! remains a best-in-class YouTube experience on Windows, despite the best efforts of Google to prevent Windows from having a touch-native YouTube experience. Other smaller teams like Finebits and Silicon Benders are also making great apps for the Microsoft Store. And then, of course, there are mountains of high-quality PC games hitting the store lately, thanks to Xbox Game Pass.
No silver bullet, but it's something
Given that Windows 11 will likely end up on hundreds of millions of devices in the near future, repairing the image of the Microsoft Store should be a priority for the big M. Microsoft has squandered a huge amount of potential here thus far, and the quality of the store remains a controversial topic. I'd argue that Xbox Game Pass on PC is definitely held back by Windows' terrible content management systems, given that you can't easily mod games, container-based titles come with limitations and glitches, and are often updated on a slower cadence than their Win32 Steam brethren.
Windows 11 has an improved touch experience, and Microsoft's efforts to build ARM-based tablet devices could help the firm's fortunes in the mobility arena. Problem is, people expect native app experiences on their tablet devices, and faced with the might of Google Play and the iOS App Store, Windows 11's Microsoft Store is like an old sock that's fallen down the back of your dresser. Forgotten, and a bit smelly.
With Windows Phone superstar Rudy Huhn managing the store from the front, and a greater emphasis on improving the Windows experience in general spearheaded by Panos Panay, I believe the Microsoft Store has a better chance than ever at meeting its neglected potential. What do you think? Hit the comments, let's talk.
Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
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I need to upvote this
There are other better ways to do that:
1) apps below some baseline shouldn't be allowed in the Store
2) quality apps should appear higher in the search The second problem is actually the essential one - junk apps will quickly get on the bottom in every reasonable store as long as:
1) there is enough traction
2) false data by those apps like false downloads and false ratings are being detected and punished This is where Microsoft falls by far and isn't particularly interested in that. Speaking of your solution it is not even feasible in the new Windows 11 Store - as the Win32 apps can independently update themselves any junk is possible and cannot be verified in any reasonable way.
Adding the ability to filter or sort by attributes like feedback rating (or new/no feedback status) or download count would be more useful than trying to apply some arbitrary and capricious "minimum quality threshold" baseline. Publishers of "poor quality" apps should get the message when no-one downloads their app or generates any revenue for them.
@labsii re: last point - You need a dedicated QA team for that.
Microsoft needs to invest more resources into the store and rehire the QA team. It's only way the store will ever get better.
Allowing any developer to submit unpacked Win32 apps and updating itself, to me, is one of the worst things Microsoft could ever done to the Store. If it already lack curation quality, it will be even worse now that the store can no longer guarantee that an app you download yesterday won't update itself to include a malware or something like that. Giving a verification badge to an app won't guarantee that the developer will keep meeting the criteria in the future, and Microsoft would need to constantly check if an app keeps attending the store requirements, so why not keep doing this step before the app can warm the consumer? Besides, containered apps are easier to install, easier to uninstall, can't affect deep parts of the system and the Store updates them in the background, so allowing the Store to have apps that don't attend this criterias is a complete downgrade to the experience, to me, and makes the Store no different than downloading the app through a Google search.
Very good idea, Jez.
They should have a badge for the publisher not the app itself....ex - Adobe photoshop by Adobe inc (insert tick mark).
Same for google/fb/twitter and everyone else.....small developers/companies can also become verified publishers
This is quite interesting, though it will not actually solve the major issue with Microsoft Store filled with lot of bad apps. At least it's something to give users some way to identify legitimate publishers and their apps, even for 3rd-party clients that make high-quality Windows apps. Still its best if Microsoft tackle this bad apps in their Microsoft Store. Like there are just so many just spam, fake and simply misleading apps that it should not be in any store at all.
Great idea. Here's few more things ms could do:
1. Integrate monetization with Bing ads
2. Improve search and ranking. Integrate Bing search. Down rank apps that are not maintained.
3. Stop hiding download numbers.
4. Stop hiding ratings and reviews from other regions.
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