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Microsoft takes the consumer side in new policy changes to banish misleading apps

Microsoft had recently undergone quite a bit of criticism recently for the inflated number of apps in the Windows Store, a few of which were confusing and misleading. Well, it seems that Microsoft has heard the moans of consumers and developers alike and the Windows-maker is addressing those complaints with a number of different policy changes that will make it easier for users to find the app that they're looking for.

"As Windows Store expands to reach more customers in more markets with a growing list of great titles, we are continuously looking for ways to improve both customer experience and developer opportunity," Microsoft said in a blog post detailing the changes to how apps get certified for the Windows Store:

  • Naming – to clearly and accurately reflect the functionality of the app.
  • Categories – to ensure apps are categorized according to the app function and purpose.
  • Icons – must be differentiated to avoid being mistaken with others.

These app certification changes will be in effect for both the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store. In addition to the policies applying to newly submitted apps, Microsoft is also conducting a review of older apps in both stores as well.

"These revised policies are being applied to all new app submissions and existing app updates for both the Windows and Windows Phone Store," the company said.

According to Microsoft, many of the developers are receptive to the changes and will alter their apps to meet the new guidelines. However, there are a few who aren't willing to comply, and Microsoft says that it had removed approximately 1,500 non-compliant apps for egregiously violating these policies.

And to show that it is on the consumer side, Microsoft said it would be gladly issuing refunds to apps that users had downloaded because of a misleading title or description.

What do you think of Microsoft's changes? Is the company being as pro-active as you'd hope and like?

Source: Microsoft

Chuong Nguyen
Chuong Nguyen

Chuong's passion for gadgets began with the humble PDA. Since then, he has covered a range of consumer and enterprise devices, raning from smartphones to tablets, laptops to desktops and everything in between for publications like Pocketnow, Digital Trends, Wareable, Paste Magazine, and TechRadar in the past before joining the awesome team at Windows Central. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, when not working, he likes exploring the diverse and eclectic food scene, taking short jaunts to wine country, soaking in the sun along California's coast, consuming news, and finding new hiking trails. For news tips or to connect, please message him on the Signal messaging app at +1 (424) 666-7438. 

135 Comments
  • YES it's about dang time! I hate those apps! Lol
  • Now They're talking
  • Right
  • Microsoft needs to make an EXTREME MAKEOVER, and aggressively remove a large number of bogus, misleading, and/or poor quality apps.
    *
    QUALITY OVER QUANTITY is an excellent selling point, and one Microsoft should highlight in the advertising.
    *
    A high-quality curated store is ESSENTIAL TO EARN OUR TRUST. We've had enough time-consuming malicious destruction from the WILD WEST WEB, we certainly don't want more of the same.
    *
  • Just updated my 1520 to Cyan, and I'm on Dev Preview.
  • You're also on AT&T. How do I know these things...
  • So Microsoft has fix the bitlocker issue ?? How u got the cyan ??
  • And how is your post relevant to this topic?
  • WPCentral should copy Microsoft. Comments that lead you away from the original post/topic should be considered violations, and they should be removed for egregiously violating these policies. Wasn't there supposed to be a big update to comments with upvoting and downvoting?
  • Excellent point!
  • I like it. If Apple used this same policy they'd end up having a third of their total apps left. No more 529 Flappy Bird clones.
  • I'm pretty sure Flappy Bird clones do not violate these terms
  • Adios! Hahaha!
  • That is a problem worth android.
  • Word Flow changes my "with" to "worth" as well. :D
  • About F***** time !
  • +925 on about time, but sorry I was first! :) lol
  • Yet the time stamps lie...
  • He must have edited the comment.
  • +1520
  • It'll be nice to see the stores cleaned up a bit.
  • Yes it will
  • Somehow I feel that chuong could've described Microsoft in a better way that's not "the Windows-maker" XD
  • Sounds like "Window-Maker/ Widow Maker" right? What are they? A craftsman and a Criminal?
  • Funny thing, in the American Tall Tales, Widomaker is the name of Pecos Bill's horse.
  • 1st thing comes to mind is that song from w.a.s.p.
  • Good for them. Weed out the garbage.
  • Finally, hate all those fake web-wrappers apps...
  • About time! Get rid all those misleading and useless apps.
  • You're dam right!
  • so hows that refund thing going to work? "hey Joe, you bought this thing, have a refund!"?
  • I imagine if you purchased it and it's been flagged you'll automatically get it.
  • Jump on support chat and ask and they'll refund you. I already got a refund for a fake subway surfers.
  • I just wish they would ban web wrappers. Or maybe rank them lower.
  • I would like that to...except Microsoft was the first one to incentivate those damn things.
  • They love to boast their app numbers, but a ton of those are trash.  Just type in a well known app, you different un official variations of them.  Finally, this is brought up in the media and the now they take action.  Massive clean-up is needed. 
  • Well there can only be one official app so the rest usually are going to be 'trash'. Same on all mobile platforms.
  • I disagree, Tony. There are several 3rd party apps that are better than the "official" apps that are published, then abandoned, never to be upgraded or debugged again. Case in point: Instagram. And when Wikipedia neglected to generate a WP app, Rudy Huyn put out such a good app, his is the app that Wikipedia lists as their "official" app. There are also a few 3rd party apps for Twitter that rival the "official" app. I think it is good to see Microsoft taking action to clear out some of the clutter. I've never understood the boasts concerning quantity. I guess that impresses some people, but I'd rather have a few killer apps with high ratings than hundreds of posers that I have to sift through.
  • Man, that app burns though the battery in an instant.
  • Which app? Wikipedia? Turn off run in background. It only uses battery when you use it. The best way to save battery is to police the background apps. There are a lot of apps that want to run in background that really don't need to.
  • It's just ridiculous. Its background task is switched off, and yet it still drains battery like hell after I close the whole thing. Even using eats more battery than using IE.
  • I LOVE this. It's about time.
  • Every appname that includes iPhone or Android should go. I hate those apps. 0 downloads
  • Thomas Nigro your complaint against fake vlc player in store is live. Finally they are really talking.
  • Maybe he's been holding off a release until they cleaned up shop
  • Finally.... Now if I could just remove apps I have tried and did not end up using from my app list I would be happy
  • +Nl625
  • The app store cut in half. On another note, when are they going to fix the Windows 8 marketplace app issue where you cant select an app and have to relaunch marketplace to get it to work? Waiting for fixes on issues like this, for over a year, is what kills windows and windows phone. Lazy crap.
  • And the store is now down to 150K
  • Yeah its kind of embarrassing how many of those apps exist in the store..
  • I wish you could block a developers apps from appearing when you search. It would stop me from having to sift through piles of app garbage.
  • They say they'll do this. Let's see if they actually do it.
  • Take notes Google!
  • If only there is a way to remove apps from my app list.
  • Yes! , that's what we need
  • This is both good news and bad news. Good we won't see crappy looking and copy apps in the store anymore, but bad because that's probably MANY of our apps, sadly, so our number of apps will probably decrease a lot...
  • Not really, removing around 5000 apps, can't reduce the number of apps in the store
  • Not too surprising. Definitely welcome. Quality over quantity in this case is more important even it means a lower total app count. Who cares if its a bogus metric. I just click links provided to me by WPC. :)
  • How about banning crappy looking icons on the apps as well?
  • Agree, they must all be square and flat
  • Too many apps collect personal id, aka owner identity
  • Only "a few"? You must not have visited the store lately. Do a search for VLC (for example) and you'll come up with a ridiculous number of fake hits. Not to mention that many of them are probably severely violating copyright. They seriously need to fire the chimp they have screening and approving these "apps".
  • I have counted it several days ago.  WP store gives more less than 10 apps with VLC in their name.  Search in Google play gives me much more than that.
  • VLC is cleaned up very nicely at this point. Do another search today.
  • I would rather have an app store with a couple hundred good apps than a couple hundred thousand shitty ones. That's just me though.
  • Good. Devs with misleading apps are scumbags
  • Proactively they would have done this for years ago. This is a very delayed reaction.
  • Press hasn't gave them enough PR damage back then
  • Uh weren't those pretty much in there before but worded differently? What matters if MS actually carrying through.
  • +929.
  • Perfect. :)
  • About TIME!!!
  • NEWSWEEK :)
     
  • Excellent customer service...
  • This is really about time, the main question is how the crapload of scam apps passed the certification on the first place..
  • Freaking Awesome
  • Getting rid of these fraudulent apps is a great start, and I'm glad to see it. That said, the bigger annoyance, in my opinion, is the plethora of pure garbage apps that may or may not be frauds, per se. I'm talking about the 'Snapchat Tips', unofficial web-wrappers, and otherwise junk clones that litter the Store. Sifting through apps on the Store is often more of an annoyance than anything when three quarters of what's there are bootleg apps made by bootleg developers.
  • Man I can't wait to see more WhatsApp apps on the Windows Store /sarcasm So I just checked by typing WhatsApp, sadly they're still two stupid apps claiming to either help auto-renew it or see the status of your contacts. Oh well.
  • This was long overdue
  • Good move
  • good guy windows store
    :) :) :)
  • It really doesn't matter how many apps are added. Until they give us fully functional apps with the same features as IOS and Android they're shooting themselves in the foot. We still don't even have a proper instagram app SMH.
  • Nice but all show and no substance. Good luck getting that refund since there is no simple/cleam path in any of the app stores. Without that option it is just BS from people who know most customers do not have the time or patience to pursue.
  • Alright!!! At last!!!
  • Yes!!! I send then feedback and they listened?! Thank you Microsoft!
  • Has office gone yet? What about Skype & Xbox music?! Is this going to happen 'Soon'.
  • As most people have already said: About bloody time! It's insane that you can search for Facebook in the store and be greeted with so many fake apps and web wrappers (some of which cost money). It should never have happened but it's great they're finally doing something about it. Of course, their app count is probably going to go down about a third now, lol! ;)
  • I really disliked the part where apps are not categorized properly. Also searching for apps in the store can be a better experience, feel there is a lot of room for improvement there.
  • They are making these changes to comply with a new law that goes into effect soon. It is nice to se MS on board and not going kicking and screaming. The refund part is a nice touch!!
  • I'm glad to hear this. In my opinion this was the biggest problem with the Windows Store.
  • would also take control of apps that in android are free, but the same n WP     have to purchase them
  • Yesss!!! Type in Ringtone maker and you get ringtone apps described as custom makers but only just already made ringtones to choose from smh! Lol
  •   This is great news for consumers.
  • This was bound to happen, not surprised. One good app is sometimes cluttered among many wannabes'... So this means the recent post of the new app mark for WindowsStore is gonna be reviewed?
  • GGG Microsoft!
  • This is a positive step in the right direction. For Microsoft this change is better now than later. Good job Microsoft.
  • Good one.. Microsoft..
  • This is how it goes when you report a misleading app.
    1) click report misleading app
    2) fill out derailed form in web browser
    3) get an email later saying you need to fill out another form for legal team to review..
    4) send this information back...
    5) give up / stop trying.
  • You shouldn't stop trying, reporting fraudulent apps is time consuming but it does help MSFT.
  • The apps that were bad were the scam apps that would charge you for VLC player or iTunes, then provide a link to the already free download on the web. There was an article written that started all this uproar:http://www.howtogeek.com/194993/the-windows-store-is-a-cesspool-of-scams...
  • Too many Facebook APP in app store.
  • It's about bloody time MSFT cleaned up the Stores; they need to take a leaf out of Apple's book and ensure they vet each app.
  • It's about time. I'm glad that Microsoft is doing this
  • Your interpretation of Microsoft's policy is much more unbiased than Neowin's. Good job, Wpcentral!
  • I assume the recently reviewed Doom Shooter will be removed then...
  • Like
  • Would be nice if they made a collection for moga enabled games might spur interest by bigger publishers other then gamaeloft
  • I hope they will make splash screen is a must for developers , like IOS all apps has splash screen which adds a virtual feeling of speed to the consumer.
  • About time, enjoying the quickening reactions to improving all service and software. Keep it up and try sign up big business to create a WP app.
  • GOOD cause there's a fair few on windows phone
  • Good, is about time
  • If Android had the same policy, I wouldn't end up seeing 1 official and 25 unofficial apps in the store. People don't understand the store is not meant by numbers of apps but the quality.
  • Perhaps we'll finally get rid of 'jetpack prison escape'
  • Dear Microsoft, while you're at it, could you please work on our ability to delete, clean-up OUR purchase history?? I'm tired looking at double (and triple) apps purchases in my history as well as NO LONGER available apps. If BlackBerry store can have this open, why can't the WindowsPhone/Windows Store have it as well? Don't give us that cr*p reasoning that "It's a feature in Windows Store so that you'll know what apps you purchased". That's BS! Give us the option to tidy-up our purchase history.
  • +822
     
  • I couldn't agree more.  Sometimes I download an app just to try it out.  If I don't like like, I remove it right away.  I must have  50 or more apps (I'm fairly new to WP) that I have had for no longer than 5 minutes still sitting in my history.  If we can't permanently delete, at least give us some headers to click on such as "All My Apps" "My Uninstalled Apps" "My Installed Apps"
  • 1,500 non-compliant apps... Is there any app compliance unit at the Store?  
  • There were developers who dowloaded another dev xap, repackaged it changing just the name, and republished to the Store.
    Ms should revoke them the developer account and prohibits to publish other shit on the Store too.
  • DVLUP is a program that helps more spammers than quality app too, just see the ranking....
  • Microsoft's Youtube app falls under then
  • MS has no YouTube app at this time...
  • Will this clean up the games that are "free" only to find out you have to pay if you want to finish them? There are a slew of hidden object games on there that run this scam.
  • Unless they previously does those policies then windows phone has already had then for about 2 years. The problems been that they don't enforce them.
  • And while they are at it it's be great if they look up those apps which got no updates in aligetime now. Like kik, the HTC apps and many more like them. Most of them are not even functional anymore
  • Finally! I really hate those misleading apps. It's better to have good quality apps than a lot of crap useless apps. Well done MS
  • Nothing worse than searching for Facebook and seeing five or six $1.99 web wrappers before you see the official... And two or three that have nothing to do with Facebook...
  • Please bring Talkray app on windows phone Please bring Talkray app on windows phone Please bring Talkray app on windows phone Please bring Talkray app on windows phone Please bring Talkray app on windows phone Please bring Talkray app on windows phone Please bring Talkray app on windows phone  
  • First of all hats off to MS for the cyan update. My Lumia 520 is working as smooth as butter. And now this.Ms on the right path. We will reach the top.
  • Hopefully they will remove crap like G0ogle Chrome or Go0gle Chrome, Chrome Plus, Google Chrome (app descrpition: "THIS IS NOT GOOGLE CHROME"), Chromox, Browser Chrome.. every single one of them shamelessly using the original Google Chrome icon.. that looks bad for the OS
  • Exactly, they need to run a bulldozer through the apps store to clear it.
  • I wonder how many Android apps are legitimately useful and helpful, rather than "inflating the numbers"?
  • And they must remove apps that serves no purpose
  • Does this mean I cant pay $4.99 for the Mozilla Firefox program.... (tutorial) that looks like its Firefox for WIndows RT but its a tutorial, to show you how to use a free browser.... get this crud out of the windows apps store. !!!!
  • Finally, at last.  There are n-number of apps with icons of famous games parading as a "Guide" like "Asphalt 8: Guide" misleading a noob user to download it. It's about the damn time, that MS looked at this. 
  • Wishing Microsoft Could Work On a fix for kik working with kik interactive as the did for whatsapp.. The basic popular apps I what the new comers to windows phone check out for... :/