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Why the Microsoft Windows Store seriously sucks - fixedByVonnie

Why the Microsoft Windows Store seriously sucks

The other day I posted an article rhapsodizing about how the Windows Store is burgeoning.  I boasted about all the apps being added daily and how Microsoft is becoming a contender as it vies for hegemony over Apple and Google.

But today I’ve got something to share with you.  I’ve got some bad news, news that will most likely engender new animosity toward Microsoft or at the very least cause you to distrust its motives.

You might want to sit down for this one…

The Microsoft Windows Store seriously sucks because its replete with bogus apps designed to trick you into wasting your money.

Microsoft doesn’t care about delivering high-quality apps for you.  Microsoft only cares about statistics and buttressing their digital store with the largest number of apps regardless of how bad they suck.

Microsoft’s cardinal concern is the quantitative state of the Windows Store; quality is subordinate to quantity.

And when I say subordinate… I really really mean subordinate – as in Microsoft doesn’t seem to care about giving you the safe, clean apps that you deserve.  In addition, Microsoft doesn’t seem to care about protecting you from fraudulent apps masquerading as the real thing.


Let me tell you a story.

There’s an auto repair shop not too far from I live that I often visit for oil changes.

One the main reasons I go there is because they throw in a free full service car wash with every oil change.  It’s a nice perk and it keeps me coming back.

On the one hand, I know the cost of the car wash is rolled into the oil change price, but that’s besides the point: from a psychological perspective, when I perceive I’m getting something for free it increases my odds of returning.

And I’m sure you’re the same way. Now imagine what would happen if I drove up to the car wash, showed the cashier my oil change receipt (for proof that I’m owed a free car wash) and then the cashier gave me a dubious look and barked:

That’ll be $14.99 sir.

Say What?

I would feel duped, slighted, lied to.  Wouldn’t you?

Well that’s what Microsoft is doing to you with the Windows Store. This is why the Windows Store sucks because it’s teeming with copy-cat apps of the most nefarious kind: they’re paid apps attempting to hide their free, legitimate cousins.

Stupid apps

But enough of my abstract complaints – I want to show you hands on what I’m talking about.

You really need to see this.

If you’re running Windows 8 or 8.1, press the Windows Key + q, type store and press Enter.

A cursory glance at the store home page looks pretty innocent. Everything is happy and lovely.  You can see there are a bunch of popular free apps, five star ratings are prevalent and it’s pretty easy to find the stuff you want.

Windows 8.1 Windows Store So what’s the deal with my histrionics about fraudulent apps and all that stuff?

Check this out:

Think of the most ubiquitous, 100% free app you can think of.

Do you have it mind?

Alright, I don’t know about you but the first app that comes to my mind is Adobe Flash Player.  Everyone has encountered this annoying app at some point in their lives.  In fact, you’ve probably got pending updates for this officious program waiting for you in the system tray.

Go ahead and type “adobe flash player” in the Windows Store search box and watch what happens.

Windows Store Adobe Flash Player Look at all the Adobe Flash Player apps.

Not only is there a preponderance of flash apps but none of them are legitimate.

Why would anyone pay $7.99 for some sketchy imitation called “Adobe Flash Player App” donning the Flash logo?

But that’s the thing: no one would pay for flash if they knew it was free to begin with but new computer users, perhaps seniors citizens, might not realize that Flash is free and therefore they would be duped into wasting their hard earned money.

This really pisses me off because Microsoft is condoning a sloppy app store full of shitty apps designed to suck out your hard earned cash.  And they’re playing you for a fool.

The stark reality is that Microsoft only cares about goosing its App store numbers – they don’t care about you.

There is no official Adobe Flash Player app.  Nope.  There’s only one official Adobe Flash Player program and it comes directly from adobe.com not the Windows Store.

But many people might not know this and that’s why the Windows Store is full of duplicity.

The sad part is that Adobe Flash Player isn’t the only example. I could adduce a dozen others.

Go ahead and type in “VLC Player”.

VLC Player is probably the number one open-source video player on the interwebs.  The authors of VLC Player, VideoLAN, is a non-profit organization who generates its income from donations.  Thus, VLC Player is 100% free.  You should never pay a dime for it.

VLC Player is Free

So then can someone explain to me what’s going on here?

VLC Player app not free in Windows Store

First of all, there are almost a dozen apps called VLC Player.  A few are free but most cost anywhere between $1.29 and $4.50.

Where’s the real VLC Player app?  Is there a real VLC Player app?

Yes, there’s a free VLC Player app in the Windows Store, but you have to walk through the junk app jungle to find it.

If you look carefully, you’ll find an app simply titled “VLC for Windows 8” that has over 3,000 reviews and it’s free.

Let’s click this guy to see where it leads.

The Real VLC Player App in the Windows Store

As you can see from the above screenshot this is the real deal.  But how did I know for sure?

There’s a miniature Published by link placed by the bottom of the screen that shows the app was published by VideoLAN. (I highlighted it in a blue box in the graphic above)

Cmon’ Microsoft, couldn’t you place the authorship link in a more conspicuous place?

So if this is the real app, what can we make off all those fake VLC Player apps?

Let’s click one of those to see what we can figure out.

I clicked the most expensive VLC clone I could find.  The $4.49 rip-off by some mendacious company called SoftTechh.

The app is a complete hoax.

Do you know what you get for almost five bucks? Three measly screenshots with a few VLC shortcuts.  How is it that a collection of screen grabs is an app?

What’s worse is that the authors of this unscrupulous app were actually brazen enough to post the link to download the free version of VLC Player in the first screenshot!

Don't download the fake VLC player app from Softechh

Pay $5.00 to view a link to download a free program that you could have found for free via Google.  Impeccable logic right?

Who know if the app has a virus in it (or what permissions you’ll permit if you buy it).  I would definitely avoid it.

But it gets worse.

I wanted to view all the apps published by Softtech – it turns out they have at least three other fictitious apps designed to waste your money.

Do you want Mozilla Firefox for Windows 8.1? You can buy it from Softtechh for $3.99.

What about iTunes?  You can grab that for the low price of $3.99.

Softechh's sickening apps

This is absolutely absurd.

The fake apps are even encroaching on your normal programs.

The most discomfiting part about this is that the apps bear a verisimilitude to the real thing.  I mean, the iTunes app uses the official Apple logo.  The VLC Player app uses the official VLC Player construction cone.  It’s so sneaky to me how Microsoft could let developers get away with this.

Hello Microsoft, are you guys awake?  Do you see the folly of allowing anyone to post apps to the Windows Store?

When I typed “firefox” into the search box (Windows Key + q) something called FireFox Training Lite showed up in the list.  I already have the real Firefox browser installed on my computer (that’s why the real Firefox showed up as the first hit) but if you were seeking Firefox you might get FireFox Training Lite thinking it was the web browser.

Admittedly, FireFox Training Lite doesn’t look as bad as some of the others I’ve seen but at the very least the search results should be sorted by relevance with the authorized, most popular version of the search term floating to the top of the results.

Fake Firefox appears in Windows 8.1 list

How bad apps get in the store

Bad apps sneak into the store because Microsoft has a lax certification process.

Although Microsoft claims apps must pass a rigorous eight step process before being considered for inclusion in the store, an explicit quality check isn’t explicit on the list.

Windows Store App inclusion checklist

Conversely, Google has app submission criteria comprising 18 points.  Don’t even think about sending your stuff to Google Play without passing each checkpoint.  I did a quick search for the term quality and I received 16 hits.  Try looking for quality in the Microsoft checklist (see above screenshot).  You won’t find it.

There’s even a lengthy whitepaper for developers delineating exactly how to publish high-quality apps for Google Play.  Google seriously cares about:

  • Functionality
  • Performance
  • Stability
  • and Test Procedures.

I couldn’t find anything similar on the Microsoft app developer network.

By comparison, if you do a search for “VLC Player” in the Google Play store you’ll see many VLC apps but notice the differences from the Windows Store:

  • Most are free
  • Very few are masquerading as clones of the real VLC Player app
  • Most are slightly different from each other
  • The publisher is conspicuously at the bottom of each thumbnail

Google Play Store Apps

The Bottom Line

The Windows Store reminds me of a little kid who can’t keep up with the smart kids in class so he buys glasses, expands his vocabulary and dresses like an academic.  But instead of actually getting smarter by studying assiduously and adding value to the classroom he evinces a specious intelligence which is poised to crumble.

In the same way, the Windows Store is only ostensibly large.  A large portion of the apps are either crap, a waste of time or a sheer waste of money.   If you must use the Windows Store please be circumspect and read the fine print.  Make sure the app you’re downloading is from a reputable source and by all means don’t get duped into paying for something that’s free!

This also reminds me of what happened to my sister.  One last story:

She’s a neophyte when it comes to websites and hosting but she had a desire to start a blog.  So just started a WordPress.com blog and signed up for a bunch of superfluous packages.  One of them was a $30 “bonus” package which enabled her to modify her website theme.  When I found out she dropped thirty bucks to modify her theme I was livid!  Had she consulted me first I would have showed her how easy it is to modify your theme for free.  You don’t need to purchase a special package to modify a website but she was new.  She was eager.  And she got punked (as they was say on MTV).

Once I showed her how easy it is to install themes and how you don’t need to touch HTML, PHP or CSS to use them she was elated!

This is similar to what’s going on with Microsoft and its squalid store: it simply dropped the ball with this one.  I know the phrase “dropped the ball” is cliche but when I say ball I’m using it as a pun for Microsoft’s titular former leader: Steve Ballmer.

There’s no doubt after Ballmer left the culture changed.  I’m not saying Ballmer’s exit was a catalyst for the poor apps we see in the Windows Store but I am saying that poor leadership in an organization often begets a poor product.

The Windows Store is a sloppy example of a bunch of poor products all mashed up into one place.

So what do you think of the Windows Store?  Were you ever tricked into buying a free app?  Have you ever received a virus from a Windows Store app?  I’m curious too see if I’m the only one who thinks this way.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Posted in News, Windows, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Tagged with: , , , ,
  • Max

    I’ve never used the windows store because I’d have to use Metro to get there :-/

  • Kladdpapper

    Windows Store search function sucks completely as well, some results found without a problem at apps.microsoft.com isn’t found even after extended searching in the store app…

  • The Emerald Sword

    I could barely find 3 GOOD, LEGIT apps with barely ANY DLC. I’ve bought about ten free apps, they all have DLC. -_-

  • Dizzy7

    Windows App store is a vapid wasteland and a shameful embarrassment. It doesn’t have to be that way – I have no idea why M$ has decided to let become completely over-run by the lowest common denominator. It’s right up there with shards of glass and plastic bags on the list of things to keep children away from.

  • craigt

    the trouble is if u only care about quantity over quality, u pretty much can’t find any decent apps amongst the junk..or maybe there’s just not many good apps there to begin with.

  • Jai Guru

    Problem 1: The app store is trying desperately to force itself into the PC market, being featured prominently on the windows 8 start screen over in-house, full applications. These are cell phone level programs with hobbled capability. Which is fine for mobile users, can’t run photoshop from a phone, but it has exactly no value at the home console. Cringe in terror as you realize windows 10 is primarily designed as a vehicle to push these horrid apps into your living room.

    Problem 2: The app store is poorly regulated. RIght on the front page an obviously pirated version of Super Mario Bros was suggested to me. This app also was given permission to have access to parts of my computer and network connection that grossly violated my privacy. Microsoft can, and should be sued for enabling piracy, and there’s exactly 0 reasons ANY video game should have that variety of access to my personal info.

    Problem 3: The apps don’t really DO anything. I already have one app that does literally EVERYTHING the windows app store apps, both free and paid do. It’s called Firefox and it doesn’t demand access to voice recordings of my home if I use a microphone. It does’t go out of its way to collect personally identifying information about me ro collaborate with over zealous law enforcement agencies who want extra constitutional privileges.

    Microsoft has gone ape shit here. Full retard!

    • Brian Mansell

      I think the biggest problem shows up when you list a few 100 Android and IOS apps, then check to see an equivalent Windows app.
      Chances are there is none, which means whoever wrote those apps have written off Windows a long time ago. There has been plenty of time to write – no one interested. So those super apps will never come to windows. I wish I had kept my old Android now – still it is an option to get a second hand Apple or Samsung.

  • WindowsStoreSucks

    This wouldnt have been a problem if WP/W8 allowed separate app stores, competition would’ve forced MS to improve its own.

    But as it is, the store strategy Apple that MS is trying to emulate can ONLY be replicated if MS blocks the masspublishing of shovelware and imposes quality standards, even if apps have to be reviewed one by one by the laziest intern they have in Seattles. The number of scamware is rising too quickly for cleanup, right now we must move to containment.

  • Rfour Runner

    I see this post is about a year old. Well, 1 year later the Windows Store still sucks! I mean Microsoft’s native apps, Mail, Calendar, Photos and People for example, don’t work. They used to work and for some reason decided one day to stop working. Don’t worry I’ve been through various forums, exchanging messages with the Microsoft experts, done Bing and Google searches for a solution, but none resolve the issue. And there are NO alternative apps in the Microsoft Store that are any good or work. For some reason, most of the developers have never heard of two-step authentication.

  • JM10JM10JM

    The windows store is beyond awful. I have browsed it many times only to find garbage apps that are either VERY poorly made games for children, or fake copies of apps that are available only in other stores. It is shockingly bad, and I absolutely refuse to purchase anything from their store even if it’s good/legitimate because every dollar I spend reflects well on Microsoft.

  • Anita Burke

    I’ve had my Lumia for a month. 8.1

    I tried grabbing some apps quick like, you know basic stuff. I was surprised and frustrated, everything I looked for, some dumbass shit came up instead. This is way worse than the kindle store. At least the kindle store has good apps. They don’t have as many apps as android but its nothing that bad. This is way worse. It’s like walking into dillards and finding a bunch of knock off stuff from china (no offense china)

    • Geebo Harris

      Lumia? You still using it??

  • Anita Burke

    Also have a desktop, for almost a year, cheap refurbished, with windows 10. Giving up hope it will ever meet my needs so now I guess I kill it and go Linux on its ass?

  • Marc Thomas

    And let’s not even mention regional locking on Microsoft games!

  • Go Kevin

    the store needs to be closed and all the crapware removed. M$ want’s us to use the store , so put proper working apps on it.
    I go else-ware and find decent programs that work. example look at desktop clocks, than search (web) for DSclock (free) and you will see the difference. DSclock works just as it has worked for the last several years.

  • Geebo Harris

    I didn’t even realize there WAS a “Windows Store” until last year, and when I found out I just rolled my eyes…blatant attempt again by MS to try and be Apple, and failing like they did with the Zune and Windows Mobile.