Ahead of the Windows 10 launch this summer, Microsoft has decided it's time for a little spring cleaning in the Windows Store, and it's tightening up its submission policies to make sure its store doesn't get into the same sorry state again.
"We will identify apps that are not following the policies, informing developers of issues we locate, and removing apps that don't comply," Bernardo Zamora, a Windows Store product manager, wrote in a Wednesday blog post.
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The updated rules pertain to Section 10.1 of the Windows Store Policies, known as the "Distinct Function & Value; Accurate Representation" section.
In other words, Redmond is planning to kick the useless, misleading, or otherwise crap apps out of the Windows Store. This, after years of seemingly telling developers that filling it up as fast as possible with as many apps as possible was the main goal.
Remember Windows App Studio – the pushbutton online tool that claimed to let you generate new "content" apps at a rate of about one every few minutes? It seems even Microsoft isn't entirely pleased with the quality of the material you get with that approach, and is now looking toward "eliminating app clutter."
That includes removing apps that it determines "do not offer unique content, creative value or utility." So long,
fart flashlight apps.
Sets of apps that all have the same icons, so that you can't tell one from the next, could also be in trouble. So could apps with misleading or hard-to-interpret icons – for example, how-to-guides that are hard to distinguish from the apps they're meant to show you how to use.
Zamora said apps should also be appropriately priced. One app should not be significantly more expensive than another than provides substantially identical functionality, for example.
"If an app is priced significantly higher than other apps in its category and it is determined that users might be confused and believe (incorrectly) that the higher price is warranted based on superior functionality or value, it may be removed from the Store," he said.
Finally, Microsoft wants app developers to do a better job of adding relevant descriptions, tags, and keywords to their apps. They shouldn't just use popular keywords to get more search hits, for example, and they should stick to a maximum of eight.
This isn't the first time Redmond has done a sweep of the Windows Store. Last year it noticed that the Store had become a haven for malware, scams, and other rogue apps. In the end, it reportedly booted out some 1,500 apps.
This time around, the goal is to raise the overall perception of quality, both of Windows apps and of the Windows Store itself.
"As developers, you increase the possibility of success if you follow these practices when developing and publishing apps that are unique, and that add value," Zamora said. ®