Microsoft wants to lock down its app store, iOS-style

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Microsoft wants to apply some Apple-style stringency to clean up its App Store.

While it certainly has its fair share of clones and discoverability issues, Apple’s mega profitable App Store is still the toast of the App Store world.

With that in mind, Microsoft is using it as its (unofficial) model for rethinking its own Windows app store which, to put it bluntly, is downright broken.

The issue was brought to light in a recent article by the website How-To Geek, which attacked Microsoft for curating an app store for both Windows and Windows Phone that is full of dodgy cloned apps trying to trick users into downloading them.

Search iTunes, for instance, and you’ll be faced with a $4 “Itunes PC” or $9 “Itunes Play App.”  Looking at the iTunes App Store in addition to the Google equivalent, the author of the How-To-Geek article wrote that:

Here’s what happens when we search for Firefox on the iPad app store. Firefox isn’t available for iOS, so do we see scams here? No. Instead, we see a variety of third-party web browsers that someone looking for Firefox might be interested in. “Foxbrowser” might look like a Firefox imitation, but it’s a browser that includes built-in Firefox Sync. It’s not designed to trick users — it offers a useful feature to Firefox users.

Take note, Microsoft — this is how proper, grown-up platforms run a real app store that isn’t full of scams.

Well, Microsoft’s not taking that kind of talk lying down, because it’s using the Apple model to more stringently crack down on all new app submissions and existing app updates for both the Windows and Windows Phone Store. As part if the clearout, Microsoft has so far eliminated more than 1,500 apps as part of an ongoing review, and also reiterates that it will refund customers the cost of any app that is downloaded as a result of an erroneous title or description.

Among the changes are Apple-style modifications related to Naming (“to clearly and accurately reflect the functionality of the app”), Categories (“to ensure apps are categorized according to the app function and purpose”) and Icons (“must be differentiated to avoid being mistaken with others.”)

Will it work? As noted, Apple has its fair share of App Store challenges, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming the most profitable App Store around: raking in an estimated $5.1 million in revenue from the App Store each day, compared to Google’s $1.1 million.

Hey, if Microsoft is going to fulfil its aim of outselling the iPhone, you might as well copy from the best. Worked for them before.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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