Microsoft To Clean Up Windows Store

John Lister's picture

Microsoft is to crack down on what it considers low-quality apps. It's likely an attempt to get its house in order before Windows 10 is officially released to consumers.

The decision affects applications that can be downloaded and installed directly from the Windows Store. It doesn't affect applications which users get elsewhere and install manually, in the same way with all software in Windows 7 and earlier. Instead, Windows Store apps are displayed prominently in the Windows 8 and 10 user interface, and on Windows mobile devices.

According to Microsoft, the crackdown isn't so much about introducing new rules as it is strictly enforcing the existing policies. It follows criticism that many apps in the Windows Store are of low quality; this reflects badly on Microsoft because it is effectively promoting the apps, while also taking a cut of any sale price.

Lookalike Apps Get The Chop

The first of four main changes is "eliminating app clutter." This involves removing apps where the icon is too similar to that of other apps already in the store. It also means removing apps that simply duplicate the functionality of other apps. For example, an app with duplicate functionality would be a flashlight app that simply turns on the device's camera flash. (Source:

Secondly, Microsoft will re-examine app pricing. It says developers retain the right in principle to set their own prices, but that it will look closely at apps which are significantly more expensive than those in the same category. It will only remove apps where it believes the developers are using a high price to give a false impression about the quality and performance of the app in comparison to rivals.

The third change is in regard to "information only apps". That's where an app contains information and reference material, rather than actually performing a function. In this case, these apps will either get the chop or be labeled as "information only."

Dubious Descriptions No Longer Tolerated

Finally, Microsoft will tighten up the rules on app descriptions. Developers will no longer be able to specifically claim their app is better than a named rival unless they have an objective basis to back up the claim. There will also be a ban on using searchable keywords that aren't relevant to the app.

While Microsoft hasn't given a firm timetable for removing apps, it seems likely to happen before Windows 10 launches. That's important, as not only will the offer of a free upgrade attract users who skipped Windows 8, but the absence of dual interfaces in Windows 10 means that for the first time every user will see the Windows Store prominently displayed on their desktop. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Is Microsoft right to crack down on apps in this way? Does it harm Microsoft to have the Windows Store house low-quality or even misleadingly-promoted apps? Or should Microsoft sit back and leave the "market" for Windows apps to regulate itself just like with traditional Windows software?

Rate this article: 
Average: 4.8 (4 votes)


georgegrimes's picture

This is a good move that is overdue. It should have already been done but I suspect that Microsoft was reluctant to reduce the number of apps in their store because of the much larger count of apps in the Apple store. (Bragging rights, of course!)

garyfenton's picture

It's about time. Some of the store apps are very good. I use an inventory/sales app that is great and it's free. The biggest problem is going through all the junk to find the good stuff.
Microsoft should quit trying to keep up with Apple and just do it's own thing.