Microsoft, we need to talk about the Microsoft Store on Windows 10
It's not good enough for an app that's integral to the Windows 10 experience.
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
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
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.
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Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.
"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.
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.
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).
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...
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..
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.
If I were MS I would let the store cater more to Surface/2-1 users, they will use it the most anyway.