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Microsoft, we need to talk about the Microsoft Store on Windows 10

Microsoft Store
Microsoft Store (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

The Microsoft Store on Windows 10 remains an integral part of the OS. It's how users can safely and securely pay for, download, and install their favorite third-party applications. But more importantly, it's how in-box system apps get updates to keep the OS current with new features. It's an integral part of the Windows as a Service experience, which is why I'm shocked at how bad the Microsoft Store as an app really is.

The Microsoft Store has several issues, the main one being a lack of apps. This is not helped by the fact that even Microsoft doesn't put all its apps in the store. Microsoft Teams, for example, isn't in there. Neither is Visual Studio Code, or Microsoft Office. This doesn't paint a positive picture to other developers looking to distribute their apps in the Microsoft Store.

Xbox is getting a brand new Microsoft Store

Microsoft has said that the Store is still an active monetization channel for app developers on Windows 10, but Microsoft has done extraordinarily little to convince developers it's worth investing in. The Microsoft Store itself hasn't been updated with new features or changes in over two years, and the last major update actually made the store experience even worse by making native product pages web pages, slowing down the Store experience significantly.

Internally, Microsoft has more or less abandoned the Microsoft Store as an app. It now basically runs on its own, with a little maintenance here and there to make sure basic functionality still works. The problem with this is that as mentioned above, the Microsoft Store is still an integral part of the Windows as a Service experience. Without it, Microsoft couldn't issue updates to in-box app experiences on the fly.

I think this is the main reason why the Microsoft Store as an app marketplace is still around. Microsoft can't remove it, because it plays that integral of a part in the overall OS experience. So Microsoft's "abandonment" of the Microsoft Store app is unforgivable for this very reason. Here's some examples of why the Microsoft Store app is so bad.

It's ugly and slow

Microsoft Store loading

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

First, it's not the prettiest looking app on Windows 10. Xbox is about to launch a brand-new Microsoft Store app on Xbox One and Xbox Series X, which is a complete rewrite of the storefront with a new Fluent Design interface that's faster and way more intuitive. This same treatment should absolutely apply to the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 as well, but so far there's no sign of a new Microsoft Store app for desktop in the works.

Another offender is that the Microsoft Store app is slow. Clicking on an app takes several seconds to load that apps product page. Clicking on important buttons such as "install" also takes several seconds to do anything, and more often than not I have to press the install button multiple times before something happens.

It doesn't work

The biggest offender is that the Microsoft Store doesn't work. It's an app for downloading apps and games, and a lot of the time it fails at that task. Downloads will cut out half-way through, with useless errors that give no explanation as to why the download has failed. This is mostly observed with medium to large sized apps and games. But it also happens with app updates too.

It's an inconsistent mess

The Microsoft Store's original promise was that it provided a safe and streamlined way of download apps. So when Microsoft decided that it no longer wanted Office to be part of the Microsoft Store, instead of removing its apps, it just made the install button redirect to your web browser, where it would then download the manual Office desktop installer. This is the furthest from a streamlined app store experience an app store can get. What a joke.

Plus, in some regions, not all categories show up along the navigation bar at the top. For example, here in the UK, the "Devices" tab that those in the US have access to isn't there, yet devices are still listed in the Microsoft Store app when you search for them.

Even Xbox thinks it sucks

As mentioned above, Xbox is building a new Microsoft Store exclusive to Xbox consoles. This is because the existing Microsoft Store sucks. If the current Microsoft Store were good, there'd be no reason for Xbox to go out of their way to build an entirely new storefront from the ground up that's faster and prettier. It's as simple as that, really.

The Microsoft Store has potential

Microsoft Store

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of the Microsoft Store. One-click install and uninstall of apps is my dream. If an app is in the Microsoft Store, that's where I prefer to download and install it, because it's supposed to be a much more streamlined and secure experience. There are some big names in the Microsoft Store such as Spotify, iTunes, Netflix, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Elements, and Facebook Messenger to name a few.

If Microsoft isn't going to give the Microsoft Store app the treatment it deserves, then Microsoft needs to kill the Microsoft Store and figure out a new way of ensuring in-box apps remain up to date. It isn't fair to keep forcing users to use the slow and unintuitive Microsoft Store app to ensure their apps are updated or to download new ones. Microsoft should start by making sure downloads work, and then it should focus on giving the app a fresh coat of paint and a performance boost.

It's simply crazy to me that an experience so integral to Windows as a Service is so underdeveloped. Microsoft hasn't even updated the Store app with the new Fluent Design icons that have been introduced in other system apps over the last couple of months. Microsoft, the least you could do is pretend to care about the Store on Windows 10. Give us the courtesy.

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

64 Comments
  • Um, Office is there in the Windows Store. It just isn't Office Professional. Otherwise, I completely agree with the article. For a vendor to once have the largest ecosystem of apps, cannot convince developers to use the store. Add on top of that the same company is lauded for its dev tools, yet struggles with the publication process speaks volumes to how much of a failure it is.
  • Office is listed, but the app installer comes from outside the Store.
  • But it still is part of the store. And when there are updates to it, it comes from the store,not the Office servicing channel.
  • This is wrong. This only happens if you already had Office from the store installed before they removed it or if your PC came with Office preinstalled. New users trying to download Office for the first time will not be able to download it directly from the Store. It will take you to Office.com and download from there. https://www.windowscentral.com/microsoft-removes-ability-install-office-directly-microsoft-store-windows-10
  • Ah, I have a few PCs that had Office installed already, yet are part of my Office Home subscription. They still get their updates from the store, not the servicing channel.
  • Right. But for new users or people who don't have Office installed yet, Office is no longer an app you can download through the Store. It just acts as a redirect for the legacy desktop installer, which sucks.
  • That does indeed suck...
  • And hopefully, they can streamline it.
  • Over the past few years, many banks have discontinued their Windows 10 App and even Facebook got rid of their as well. Out of 30 Android games I've played, I can find less the half of then in the Windows Store which is pathetic. Even Shazam, before Apple bought it, got rid of their Windows 10 app. Microsoft needs to do something to made Windows 10 apps better
  • Nah the app developers need to consider the potential. If there is none don't do it. If there is, do it. We're only talking 10s of millions so maybe not attractive
  • For these apps to make sense to be there to developers, tablet mode should make more sense in Windows 10. Microsoft doesn't seem to care anymore. Without tablet mode, I don't any use in these types of apps. You can access Facebook and Messenger through the browser, and Shazam would make sense to hear the tablet/PC itself, but I'm not sure how useful that is.
  • Great article Zac. You captured my feelings about the Store as well. I gave up on the Store when Microsoft cancelled the Music section (Groove Music) and then Books. It really impacted my buyer confidence. Now there is no way I'll invest in Movies on there, and I'm even hesitant to invest in apps, to be honest. When are they going to get cancelled?
  • Ferenc, all fair points, but note for Movies, MS is part of Movies Anywhere, so even if MS abandons movies or goes out of business, it's still totally safe to buy movies from MS. You can watch them for as long as the Movies Anywhere Alliance exists. When I buy movies online, I still buy them through the MS Store.
  • The store is not a one click uninstaller for everything and sometimes does not give adequate descriptions. Rise of the Tomb Raider has Denuvo yet this fact is not mentioned in the description on the store page.
  • Agree. This is a pain point for all of us trying to embrace the new stuff. They really should fix this to make the Neo/Windows 10X Experience great
  • I joined the insider program at it's outset, and watching store downloads fail consistently version after version, year after year on over a dozen different machines just perplexes me. At what point do they realize the system is majorly flawed, rip out the offending parts and put in something else? BTW, once an app fails to dl in the store, it will likewise fail with winget. This is probably a contributing factor to the non-uptake of UWP.
  • Best article I've read on the Microsoft Store ever. Couldn't agree more that any and all of Microsoft's own lineup should be on the Microsoft Store, at the very least VS Code, Teams, SQL Server Management Studio, Visual Studio, Office 365, and Visio. A few other beefs: - They moved devices under the Productivity tab. Not only that but you have to scroll down about 3 pages down to get to them. Windows devices are kind of important, and they deserve their own tab. - What ever happened to PWAs on the Store? Install this site as an app is great on the new Edge, sure, but it seems like Microsoft lost interest in reaching out to PWA makers to make their sites discoverable through the Store. - If the new Microsoft really loves open source, they should be bending over backwards to work with makers of open source software to get them on the Store. There are unofficial versions of Open Office, Libre Office, Notepad++, 7-Zip, KeePass, and Greenshot, but no official versions. And there aren't even unofficial versions of Thunderbird, Firefox, Gimp, Brave, and FileZilla. Not only that, but open source software should highlighted in some way, like Essential Apps is on the Productivity tab. - Microsoft still takes too big a cut from developers. If they lowered their cut to say 5%, just enough to pay for the overhead of running the servers and turn a small profit, they might actually attract some bigger names in Windows productivity software and games.
  • Not having a proper store also significantly undermines the value proposition for Windows 10 S devices and just incentivizes people to switch out of S mode even more, and that does not bode well for the store.
  • Microsoft is not even using the Microsoft Store that much. The new version of Edge was not launched in the store. Microsoft Teams is not in there. If Microsoft wants people to use the store, they have to love it first.
  • They should reiterate that the store doesn't accept just UWPs anymore, and it would be perfect with examples of their own, such as Teams and Office. I get the feeling they don't want anymore. We're getting a package manager and the Xbox team made a whole new app for Game Pass. Why didn't Windows and Xbox teams join forces to just make a great store and then the Xbox folks could just overhaul the games tab.
  • I agree totally with this article. Unfortunately, I've given up any hope they will do anything positive with it. Quite sad really.
  • Zac do we know how the store or whatever it will be in 10x will work? It seems to me Microsoft has no real reason to invest in the store. Businesses don't use the full store and windows is not a big consumer facing product. People have clearly spoken and continue to want to get apps where ever for PC. Then there are PWAs which frankly are just as good in many cases. Certainly I like them as much or more than native apps from the store. Finally, ironic that the WC app windows app runs so poorly don't you think?
  • Esse artigo é simplesmente uma captura da minha decepção com a Microsoft. Há anos eu venho tentando entender o motivo de a Microsoft não melhorar a experiência de uso da loja do Windows 10. Há 05 anos foi lançado o Windows 10 e a Microsoft Store continua com a mesma interface sem graça e ultrapassada.🇧🇷
  • Ou é incompetência ou eles vão matar logo logo
  • Porque ninguém está usando a loja. Portanto, não é uma prioridade para a Microsoft. É muito simples.
  • The Windows Store is indeed terrible, but it isn't the only one. Films & Tv or whatever they are calling it now it absurdly broken. I can't even play content downloaded to my local machine because the app freezes up when I do absolutely anything. Microsoft really needs to get their act together when it comes to their own apps.
  • I also buy preferentially through the Store, when that's an option. I think it's outrageous that Teams and all other MS apps are not in there. It just feels like MS is telling me to do something they don't believe is right. I can't articulate how unnerving that is. It would be like learning if you bought a Tesla that Elon Musk doesn't drive one, or that your doctor doesn't trust the hospital where he works. MS doesn't seem to have any self-awareness on this at all. It just screams, "Don't trust us!" I even pay extra for apps I had previously downloaded for free from their websites to encourage developers to move apps to the Store: I would gladly pay extra for an app to get the automatic background updates that are only provided through the Store in most cases. I have never had an app or update fail through the Store. For me, it's been 100% reliable, but I strongly agree with the all criticisms of MS not eating its own dogfood with the store. NEVER provide a service like the Store without using it yourself, MS! NEVER!!
  • "The Microsoft Store on Windows 10 remains an integral part of the OS. It's how users can safely and securely pay for, download, and install their favorite third-party applications. " The Store is not an integral part of anything. The vast majority of people using Windows these days, use it at work. Period. They have never seen the MS Store, because the PC they use lands on their desk at work with all the software they need to do their jobs. And even if they wanted to, the store is typically blocked by IT, as is the ability to install anything. Windows 10 just is not being used by a large number of consumers. Therefore a store with a few games and apps is not going to be used very much. Which explains why the store app is so poorly maintained. MS has bigger fish to fry than this leftover from the "Windows Everywhere!" days. People who are still using Windows at home, are doing so for specific reasons. Not for general web/email/text/photos/shopping/other consumerish stuff. Phones and tablets handle all of that much easier. They typically already have whatever software they need for their specific purpose, or they know where to get it. Because its probably not in the store anyway.
  • 'The vast majority if people using Windows these days use it at work' Bollocks. Windows is by far the most widespread PC OS on the planet, and most people still use a PC for anything other than casual browsing...
  • Yes, widespread PC OS. But most people don't have a PC at home. They have phones and maybe an iPad. That is all the computer most people need. Android is the most used OS on the planet. There are 1 billion Windows 10 users. There are 4 billion phone users. These are facts.
  • Yes there are 4 billion phone users and now in these Covid-19 lock-down times they were all working from home doing their job, day to day work on their phone and they were using their PC to play candycrush. Dream on brother.
  • This is from statista.com... "In 2018, almost half of private households worldwide were estimated to have a computer at home. In developing countries, the PC penetration rate is lower with around a third of households having a computer." I think my own household is pretty average. We have two PCs, 1 tablet, and 3 phones. The PCs (an all-in-one desktop and a laptop) get quite a bit of use. So, I think you're right in countries where people simply can't afford a laptop, or for people in developed lands but on a fixed income, but by and large, for many personal computing use cases, there's simply no replacement for at least a 13 inch screen, a decent keyboard, and a mouse. That seems like a huge missed opportunity for Microsoft to sell these folks apps. In fact, I'd argue, that if the MS App Store were better, we'd see fewer people turning to tablets for their personal computing needs.
  • "Windows 10 just is not being used by a large number of consumers."
    "People who are still using Windows at home, are doing so for specific reasons. Not for general web/email/text/photos/shopping/other consumerish stuff." This is absolutely not true. Hundreds of millions of people use Windows PCs (and other PCs) for all those things - privately, at their homes, in their free time. Not everyone wants to use small screens or on-screen keyboards all the time.
  • Yes, hundreds of millions. Perhaps 200 million, out of the 1 billion Windows 10 users. Meanwhile, there are more than 4 billion phones in use. Hell, there are 1 billion iPhones in use, and Android way outsells Apple. Again, Windows is not a consumer product. You are making my point for me. If there were a vast number of people using the MS store everyday, don't you think it would be in better shape? Don't you think it would get more attention from MS? Don't you think that Windows 10S would have been a success?
  • I'm not making the point for you. In fact, we may agree more on this than you realized. Hundreds of millions is a huge market for anything. Obviously it's smaller than the market for phones, but that's not the bar to reach for "sizable market" (though I think your 200 million is too low a guess).
    PCs are still absolutely consumer products as well - hundreds of millions of people buy them privately for whatever they do outside of work. Now, you made the point further below that Windows PCs are overkill for the vast majority of people, and that's something I can agree with you on. My point was mostly about the form factor, not the OS itself. Most people spend their time in the browser and maybe Office anyway. They could also do that on a Chromebook, but it would still be a device with keyboard, mouse and bigger screen, which is what my argument was about, not about Windows specifically. I also never said anything about the Microsoft Store. It's obvious that it's a failure.
  • None of what you wrote about the store being slow or consistently unreliable is true for me on my SP4
  • I wish it was better too. Take the Xbox experience and bring it to Windows PC and also Android by starting with the Surface Duo
  • So, you think that the MS store should be available to Android phone users?
  • It all went south when it w renamed Microsoft. Its not Microsoft apps you...it's Windows Store apps
  • I think the name change was meant to reflect the fact that it has more than just Windows apps, but also e.g. movies and hardware.
  • Considering the amount of app that are available now, they should turn it 100% on a game store, only to promote Game Pass games and push their store against steam and epic game
  • Yes Windows Store is bad. Searching for things is difficult and tedious. I also used to buy books from the store. Using Edge to read books was superior to the Kindle App. But MSFT got out of the books business. They did refund all the money I spent on buying books. I guess no one at MSFT could figure out how to run an online store. MSFT at base is a software company that is good at building ecosystems that support third party software developers to expand the capabilities of the WinTel ecosystem. I don't know why they could not write a piece of software to grow a retail approach to allowing the third party app developers have a better shot at making money.
  • Buying movies in MS is impossible as there is no way of filtering effectively. I end up looking for movies elsewhere, and then searching for the name directly. Games are impossible to determine if they are for desktops or if they can run on tablets. If they are made for mouse and keyboard, controllers or touch.
  • @Serpentbane, for games I suggest using Steam. It has touch curators (that only review touch games) and iirc a touch subcategory. Besides that Steam has more quality games than app stores have. :)
    Gog can also be interesting since you really get the games as downloadable exes but only for buying touch games and not browsing them (GOG's search filters lack compared to Steam's).
  • Under Satya Nadella Windows is getting the least attention of all. The new Microsoft is more about productivity and cloud and less about their legacy products. It seems anything not related to cloud does not get the attention of the upper management at Microsoft. Windows will eventually meet the same fate as Windows Phone. It’s sad, but it will happen. You will see.
  • Well, he isn't wrong in investing in those stuff.
  • Way back when I was using my ATIV SE Windows phone running 8.1, and I bought the then new Surface RT, and had Windows 8.1 on my Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro....there was actually a need for an integrated Windows Store. All my devices synced, running the same OS, running the same 'apps'. It was awesome!
    But...it all fell apart.
    If the Windows store closed tomorrow, who would actually care? It the Google Play store closed tomorrow, millions of people would be affected! Same with the Apple App Store. Why don't we close the Windows Store for week, and see what happens...
  • Correction. It the Google Play store closed tomorrow, BILLIONS of people would be affected!
  • Play Store is so terrible
  • My biggest gripe with the Microsoft Store is you can't delete apps from your purchase history. You can "hide" them, but if they are an app you purchased (or did an install of a "free" app), you are stuck with it in your app inventory forever, and have to look at it in the ever-growing list of "purchased" apps for the rest of your life. I understand that if one truly deletes an app they purchased from their list of apps, you would have to re-purchase it later if you change your mind and wanted to reinstall it. But Microsoft should warn you about the consequences and then give you the option to purge that app from your list. I am reluctant to even try a different Windows Store app if I know that I will have to see it for eternity, even if I hate it and uninstall it immediately after having installed it. Also, apps that used to work on Windows Mobile only should be purged from the store, or at least prevented from even appearing when the Store is viewed on platforms that do not support those apps. Also, when you uninstall an app, Microsoft makes no attempt to give feedback to the developer about why the app is being uninstalled. If I was a developer of Windows apps, I would want to know that feedback.
  • All three images are from different time periods...why couldn't you just take a screenshot?
  • Anyone else get the infinite country loop? Did you want Canada? Yes. Did you want Canada? Yes. Did you want Canada? Fine, I guess No! That's super annoying.
  • I'm amazed Microsoft are still in business, the store is appalling and nearly every Windows 10 update causes issues... I have three PC's and none of them are 'ready' for the latest update... Nothing has changed with any of my PC's Microsoft, they are ready you are not... If I ran my business like Microsoft I would be out of business... One of my PC's is a Surface Pro 4 and they made that one and it is not ready... Ha ha ha... Pathetic... I won't be buying anymore hardware from Microsoft... Was a die-hard fan but have be beaten into submission by disappointment after disappointment... My drawers are full of their failures... Bought a Razer Blade Stealth (instead of the latest Surface), Sony PlayStation (sold my Xbox) and an Android Phone... Happy...
  • "I'm amazed Microsoft are still in business, the store is appalling and nearly every Windows 10 update causes issues..." Microsoft's real customers (businesses) don't care about either of those. Enterprise customers don't use the store AND they only install updates after the updates have been tested by foolish consumers. Foolish because they have some weird urge to install this crap on the day it is released. Microsoft is (not are, BTW) still in business - indeed, it is thriving - because it does not care about/focus on/cater to consumers. Once you realize that, it all makes sense. "Bought a Razer Blade Stealth (instead of the latest Surface), Sony PlayStation (sold my Xbox) and an Android Phone..." Again, MS does not care about you. Or me. Or anyone else reading this. All MS cares about are large companies with thousands of PCs and servers, that spend millions of dollars each year on MS products and services. Not to mention 10 billion dollar U.S. government contracts. Nothing wrong with any of that. MS knows where the money comes from, and prioritizes accordingly. That's why it is "still in business".
  • Well Microsoft seems to be doing really well. Just support whatever company you like, but many of your complaints don't make sense, or ar things that you'd let other companies do. But not MS. For example, your Android phone won't get all the updates, not in time, not forever.
  • You forgot to tell you switched to Mac or Linux.
  • I started a thread about issues with the store a while back. For some choice screenshots, see here:
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/the-windows-10-store-app-is-bad.... Something not mentioned here is the download progress bar. I've literally seen the progress bar loop around and start back from zero. Just lots of "little" bugs like that, it's embarrassing. Also, you gotta love their attention to detail. The description of the Windows store app reads.. "Store”. So thoughtful..
  • All of which just proves that no one is using the MS store. Which is why MS does not care about it. If billions of people were using it (like the Android and Apple stores) these problems would not exist.
  • I don't know, a lot of the points against it are a bit subjective. Is it ugly? Well, it's not amazing but it's functional. Is the Android store better looking? It's basically a list of apps. Not much else. I wouldn't say it's good looking. Broke downloads. Hm, that has happened to everyone, especially for users like us who have been using it since Windows 8. But it's not a consistent thing , I have to say I haven't seen a lot of broken downloads lately, and given how many large games I get with Game Pass, it's sayuing something. I think this point is one of those things that gets stuck in people's heads and it's just repeated, without being true anymore.
  • Nice article and I completely agree with the author. MS has to step up more!
  • Yes, the MS store is horrible. How can a $Trillion dollar company not hire the right people to do a store right?! Microsoft's former Mobile store was even worse and that helped destroy the existence of the Windows Mobile Phone. Give it enough time and Windows could be gone from PC's as well. 25 years ago nobody thought that mighty General Motors would be looking for bankruptcy court either.
  • Seriously, you give even the advice to close the store? They don't need new ideas to close anything, I suppose :) First they made it "universal" even though most of the universe wasn't guided enough to do such a big shift, then they made it even less universal by killing mobile, hurting iot and exiling hololens. Finally, they turned to love the universe itself except UWP (android, win32, linux, etc.) so that they could actually call themselves universal!
    That said, if there's one thing MS needs right now, that's not yet another revolution. We're done really.
    The app isn't intuitive enough? yes, although not dramatic as you say, it should be improved: what about the annoying background trailers on the movie section? Aren't there many UWP developers? Again, the solution isn't to dump those few enthusiasts. They should e.g. invest so badly in Xamarin and the expansion of C#, while hololens should be used as a magnet to the platform as it was meant to be. I think, they need progressive, tireless improvements, otherwise with no patience we already saw how the story ends with w10m.
  • I think both Windows/MS Store and Playstore have crappy search filters. I still like MS Store for a bunch of basic/popular apps or drawing/notes stuff. But for other things stuff like e.g. games Steam/Gog etc is just miles better.
    If I were MS I would let the store cater more to Surface/2-1 users, they will use it the most anyway.
  • I'm a Middle School teacher. Our students are on Chromebooks, Macs and iPads on campus. After school, they pull out their iPhones and Androids. This generation does not even know that a Microsoft Store exists...