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Why Microsoft needs to solve the Windows Store 'crap app' crisis before Windows 9

Jared Newman | Sept. 3, 2014
Two years into the creation of the Windows Store, Microsoft is facing up to the mess.

Clearly, Microsoft is doing the right thing by cracking down on these misleading apps. The question is how quickly and thoroughly Microsoft can clean things up, and how many apps it's willing to purge in the name of quality. That's where things get tricky.

It's widely expected that the next major version of Windows will be a grand convergence. Windows Phone and Windows RT will reportedly combine into a single version that spans smartphones and tablets, while a more professional-grade version of Windows will focus on desktop use. Meanwhile, the Windows Store will reportedly span all versions, making good on Microsoft's long-term plan to have one unified experience across all devices.

But this mentality is what got Microsoft into trouble with Windows 8, and it becomes an issue again as the Windows Store makes its big pivot.

Here's one example: Currently, the Windows Store is loaded with YouTube clones of varying quality, ostensibly to fill in for the lack of an official YouTube app. The demand for these apps is great enough that they sometimes appear in Microsoft's top charts and get high billing in the store's video section. But for laptop and desktop users, these apps are worthless. YouTube's website is a much better experience, and unlike some of the Windows Store clones, it's free. Should Microsoft remove these apps or leave them in place for phone and tablet users?

And what about the rip-off apps that Windows itself sometimes suggests you install when you do a system search for a program by name, but the official program has yet to find its way into the Windows Store?

On laptops and desktops quality needs to reign. Instead of being a sprawling marketplace with lots of dark corners, the store must be laser-focused on unique apps for productivity and creativity with features that can't be found in legacy software. Otherwise, getting them to visit the store at all will be a tough sell.

The challenge for Microsoft, then, is to serve both interests in the same store at the same time. Can it effectively filter, block, boot, and curate apps on the desktop side, and still cater to the needs of phone and tablet users? Microsoft needs to figure it out soon, as the Windows Store is running out chances to make a positive impression.


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