Update on Microsoft’s store clean up

In August, Microsoft announced it was going to clean up it’s app Store – at last

For anyone who has suffered through the chaos there, not to mention out and out scamming, this was welcome news. The Store was riddled with crap, blindingly obvious scams and people who were padding reviews. What Microsoft’s thinking was, in leaving the mess for so long, is mystifying. It seriously damaged the Store’s credibility and frightened off potential developers.  It also made selling Surface tablets more difficult – one of the first things asked would be “How are the apps”. When I would shrug, customers were a bit put off from the purchase.  I had to be honest, and one of the big selling points of tablets is functional and fun apps. If a company can’t deliver, they are hamstringing their sales.

By the time MS made their announcement, over 1,500 apps had already been purged and a shakeup was underway. This is all good, but the question remains about why MS dropped the ball so badly on their Store oversite. It was real amateur hour.  App developers were throwing up garbage that didn’t even have the pretense of being a functioning app, inserting stellar reviews that weren’t just misleading, but out and out lies, and putting their crap into every unrelated category under the sun.  Finding anything useful was painful. Some apps even had adware attached or led to their websites where you would be prompted to purchase something instead. But what killed me, were the number of apps that had NO features – zip, nada, nothing. They were ads encased in an app and did absolutely nothing. I got into a pissing match with one such scammer, let’s just say, I’m fairely sure the paint peeled off his walls during the exchange. I stopped using the store for quite a while because it took so long to weed through the garbage.

The restructuring and clean up has resulted in a much more useable store. They have a long way to go, either that or MS needs to create a category called CrapApps. MS is also tackling the contentious issue of reviews. The abuse of this area has been pretty egregious. People leaving 5 star reviews – no reason for it or a quick “Best app ever” comment. When you flip through 5 or 6 identical comments saying “Good App” you quickly get the feeling the developer’s friends have been busy little boys and girls. The other sticking point was the lack of response from developers when an issue or bad review was posted. Ignoring complaints about non functioning software is not a good business practice. Microsoft has revamped their store agreement, in an effort to push developers to address complaints. I won’t hold my breath on this one, given the level of arrogance I’ve encountered with some app developers. But the new certification process and updated agreement should help encourage a better feedback process and make it easier to weed out the scumware developers.

As I said earlier, the store has improved. I suspect Microsoft has weeded out many more dodgy apps and inserted a lot more structure in the categories. The restructuring to date, is a welcome relief.