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Print 32 comment(s) - last by KOOLTIME.. on Aug 29 at 11:02 PM

Some apps claimed fake functionality or otherwise misrepresented itself

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) app store has about a fourth as many apps as Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Play Store (~1.3 million apps) and Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) App Store (~1.2 million apps).  But with it reaching 300,000 apps earlier this month, the Windows Phone Store can take pride in that it has many of the most popular apps on its competitors' platforms and even some nice exclusives.
 
But Microsoft also has faced a new challenge, of a growing number of misleading apps, which range from apps that don't work as intended due to bugs, to free fake apps (possibly a joke, in some cases), to outright fraud/misrepresentation for profit.  Microsoft had long screened for malicious or clearly pirated apps, tracking closer to Google in allowing virtually anything else -- even apps which made deceptive functionality claims but weren't overtly malicious.
 
However, after reportedly getting complaints from some customers, Microsoft announced that it's borrowing a page from Apple's book and will remove misleading/fake apps, and reject new submissions that fall into this category.  The initial purge claimed over 1,500 such apps.  Add in the ~170,000 apps that the Windows Store currently has and that works out to a little more than roughly 1 in every 300 apps in the Windows and Windows Phone Stores.


[Image Source: Microsoft]

Under its new policies, new and old apps alike but obey three fundamental commandments:
  • Naming: The app cannot mimic other popular apps/services or be named in such a way as to mislead users of its capabilities.
  • Icons: The app cannot mimic the icons of other popular apps or well known companies.
  • Categories: The app must be assigned to a category that fits with its actual functionality.
This will certainly require more work on Microsoft's part and there's certainly the risk of false positives or overreach.  But for the average consumer this should mean less frustration at apps that look like one thing, then turn out to be something else altogether.  Developers can dig into the finer details of the rules changes on Microsoft Windows Store app certification requirements page.

Microsoft points out that the app removals, while relatively large in number, came only after the app publishers refused to comply with Microsoft's warnings and request for changes for months.  It writes:

Most of the developers behind apps that are found to violate our policies have good intentions and agree to make the necessary changes when notified. Others have been less receptive, causing us to remove more than 1,500 apps as part of this review so far (as always we will gladly refund the cost of an app that is downloaded as a result of an erroneous title or description).

It also adds that the process of rescreening older apps is still being perfected and is ongoing, which means more removals could be incoming.  It writes:

The Store review is ongoing and we recognize that we have more work to do, but we’re on it. We’re applying additional resources to speed up the review process and identify more problem apps faster. No approach is perfect, so we encourage people to report any issues they may encounter with Windows Store. For most issues, customers can use the “report concern to Microsoft” link in the Store. For infringements concerns, people can use our online tools or email reportapp@microsoft.com directly.

We remain as committed as ever to delivering a great customer experience AND expanding the developer opportunity through fair and transparent policies.

Microsoft still remains accepting of certain app categories such as religious or political satire than Apple.  However, in other ways it's also tracked like Apple in the past -- in particular in censoring adult content apps early in the history of Windows Phone.

Source: Microsoft Windows [blog]



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Troubling...
By amanojaku on 8/28/2014 12:18:01 PM , Rating: 3
I don't want a smartphone and generally don't care about them. However, it troubles me that so many companies are censoring mobile apps. Fake and malicious apps ought to be banned, yes. Parental controls ought to be in place, yes. But banning adult content? Satire? Religion? What the hell planet is this?




RE: Troubling...
By seamonkey79 on 8/28/2014 1:07:58 PM , Rating: 3
They're a private company. If one doesn't like what they censor, then one can find a company that doesn't. If they all censor, then one can continue without or accept their practices.

Considering they are censoring and people still clamor for more smartphones and apps, I don't think people are that upset. Especially considering the plethora of other options that don't come with the potential tracking that an app could have with it.


RE: Troubling...
By amanojaku on 8/28/2014 1:52:47 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Considering they are censoring and people still clamor for more smartphones and apps, I don't think people are that upset.
That's what has me worried.

When censorship was forced on us by government we fought it.

When censorship was forced on us by corporations we bought it.


RE: Troubling...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/28/2014 2:17:00 PM , Rating: 5
Do you know what censorship is??

The developers don't own that app market, Microsoft does.

Saying this is censorship is like me saying an art gallery is "censoring" me because they won't display whatever I scribbled on some paper...


RE: Troubling...
By amanojaku on 8/28/14, Rating: 0
RE: Troubling...
By inighthawki on 8/28/2014 3:48:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Companies refusing to allow technically safe and truthfully advertised applications in their stores are practicing censorship.

No. This is not censorship. Reclaimer's example may not have been perfect, but he is right. You clearly have no clue what censorship is. It sounds like you're just throwing the word out there as a buzz word.

quote:
Again, this is a philosophical discussion. If companies want to censor their stores then I should be allowed to get my data from alternate sources.

No, you shouldn't. They are a private company and can enforce whatever policies they want on their products. You are not entitled to anything because you do not have to invest in their products or services.

quote:
You don't accept the walled garden on the desktop, so why is it OK on the tablet and phone?

Because it is a different usage pattern that people have, in general, accepted as an acceptable method of operation. Walled gardens are not ideal for everyone, but they have advantages.


RE: Troubling...
By TSS on 8/28/2014 3:30:54 PM , Rating: 2
Appearantly you don't know what censorship is. Neither do the people who upvoted you.

Whats happening here is like an art gallery displaying anything what anybody scribbled on a piece of paper (even you), except when that so happened to resemble religious figures/topics, satitirical topics, or genitalia. Which ironically wouldn't be possible for an art galery as that's half the art ever made right there, but i digress.

Sure, MS is a private company and as such they're allowed to sell/censor whatever the hell they want. I think the OP means people used to go to whoever didn't engage in censorship (AKA "vote with your money") while in these days that's secondary to "as long as they have what i want". Which is very dangerous in various ways.


RE: Troubling...
By amanojaku on 8/29/2014 12:23:00 PM , Rating: 3
It is very disturbing that so few people understand what censorship is. The content bans are a combination of moral and corporate censorship. Again, I have no problem with these companies censoring their stores. I have a problem with not being able to get data from sources OTHER than the censored store.

Data caps. Locked phones. Content restrictions... When did Americans get used to taking it up the ass?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship


RE: Troubling...
By inighthawki on 8/29/2014 2:31:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I have a problem with not being able to get data from sources OTHER than the censored store.

What on Earth makes you believe you are entitled to this while using a private company's product or service? They get to set the policies. You do not have any right to "get everything from another source" just because you don't like the way they do it.


RE: Troubling...
By amanojaku on 8/29/2014 3:16:33 PM , Rating: 2
How is a mobile device any different than a desktop PC? Why am I entitled to freedom of choice while using a private company's desktop OS? You claim there is a difference in usage, but there isn't. You play music on both. You play games on both. You watch movies on both. You check mail on both. You read the news on both. You access social networks from both. And now you can do office productivity on both. You have yet to explain why this is acceptable for one product but not the other. They're the same device, but one is lacking a keyboard and mouse and adds a cellular radio.

Or are you saying you'd be OK if this extends to the desktop, as well? And why stop at the computer? What if Sony decides you can't watch porn on your Bravia? What if Coby doesn't want you listening to political talk shows on your radio? You tell them to screw off, because you own the product.

Your answer is to not buy a smartphone if I don't like it. That's like saying stay away from the bad part of town because there's crime. The answer is to send in the police. In this case, the DOJ.


RE: Troubling...
By inighthawki on 8/29/2014 3:45:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How is a mobile device any different than a desktop PC?

Just because they are both "Computing devices" doesn't mean they should behave the same way. Should Xbox and PS4 also give you full filesystem access and eliminate game DRM so that people who think games are too expensive have the "Option" to go pirate them? No of course not.

quote:
Or are you saying you'd be OK if this extends to the desktop, as well?

Yes, because Microsoft is a private company, and if that's what they want to do, they can do it. People will simply not purchase the device if it does not meet their needs. This is a free market, not a "let's have the government regulate every product so that I can make sure I always have things my way" market.

quote:
What if Sony decides you can't watch porn on your Bravia?

I think you are missing the point. Nobody is banning specific content from the device. These phones can still play porn. The private company (MS, Google, Apple) simply ban apps hosted on THEIR store from displaying that content. That's like claiming we need to regulate Walmart because they refuse to have an aisle dedicated to sex toys.

If your phone has internet access or an SD card slot, you can watch as much porn as you want.

quote:
What if Coby doesn't want you listening to political talk shows on your radio?

Again, see my above point. That's not how radios work...

quote:
You tell them to screw off, because you own the product.

Irrelevant. Owning a product does not exempt you from obeying laws and adhering to policies that private companies place on their products or services. If I own google drive storage, does that somehow give me the right to go store massive amounts of illegal content on their servers? No, absolutely not.

quote:
Your answer is to not buy a smartphone if I don't like it. That's like saying stay away from the bad part of town because there's crime. The answer is to send in the police. In this case, the DOJ.

No, no it's not like that at all. Government has absolutely no right to dictate how a luxury product or service from a private company can or should be used.


RE: Troubling...
By ritualm on 8/28/2014 3:43:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do you know what censorship is??

The porn industry saw Google's Glass as a testing ground for some "interactive" porn, and some of it went ahead with the idea. Google immediately changed its policies to censor it and all future attempts at it.

That's just for the good kind of porn, not the rotten ones that make headlines.

If that's not censorship in the most blatant way possible, I don't know what is.


RE: Troubling...
By inperfectdarkness on 8/29/2014 3:24:03 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. I still find it troubling. As a mature, consenting adult, I have numerous tastes which are not appropriate for all ages and/or cultures. While I would never espouse apps which aid/abet lawbreaking (child pornography, murder, etc)--my own idiom should not be hamstrung by the prudish instincts of others.

For example, I would thoroughally enjoy some M-Rated FPS/RPG games that feature graphic depicions of sex (not shadows/cutaways/black-screen-moaning). Yet this market does not exist, or at least is not widely available--even though I'm certainly not alone in my consumer tastes. I have enjoyed seeing the adult-entertainment industry start to produce some higher-quality movies (with an actual script *gasp*) as of lately, but I would still like to see more mainstream integration. I'd like to see a regular R/X rated movie with 5-10 minute graphic sex-scenes(rather than 20-30 minute ones that detract from the script-- & no gratitous close-ups/money-shots)--all combined with a solid script and solid-quality acting.

I guess what I'm saying is that there's a market out there that hasn't even begun to be tapped--one that covers a broad swath from apps to full-length media. And while I get that MS, Apple or Google can have ultimate say in what goes and what doesn't--it might actually prove financially rewarding to welcome new developers/producers to a market that is specifically designed for adults...and not just some quick-buck exploitation-quality junk.


RE: Troubling...
By corduroygt on 8/28/2014 2:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
Unlike governments, companies can't forcibly take away your money or your freedom, so this is OK by my book.


RE: Troubling...
By ritualm on 8/28/2014 3:11:25 PM , Rating: 2
Until they become monopolies, even in the regional sense.


RE: Troubling...
By inighthawki on 8/28/2014 3:57:37 PM , Rating: 2
Outside of utilities (actual necessities like water, electricity, etc), that is not even remotely true.


RE: Troubling...
By ritualm on 8/28/2014 4:49:25 PM , Rating: 2
Just wait until Comcast/TWC completes their merger.


RE: Troubling...
By inighthawki on 8/28/2014 5:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
Although they technically aren't (because the government is too dumb to classify them as such), internet providers are, for all intents and purposes, utility companies. Thus they fall under my above claim as an exception.


RE: Troubling...
By soccerballtux on 8/28/2014 11:55:57 PM , Rating: 2
this isn't censorship, it's removing crapps, something Google should get more aggressive at. Tired of downloading 3 to find the 1 that actually works well.


RE: Troubling...
By kmmatney on 8/28/2014 1:25:33 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see the big deal - you have a web browser that can get you anything you want.


RE: Troubling...
By amanojaku on 8/28/2014 1:50:17 PM , Rating: 2
I do. That's not the point, though. With more and more people using smartphones OS vendors are able to exert more control over content. We complain when the government restricts access to content, but we don't complain when companies do it en masse. You happen to be lucky in that Google is the most lax because of what it allows in the Play store, as well as side-loading in general. But what if Google decides to tighten its content restrictions?

This is made worse by the fact that tablets are so popular, along with larger-scale apps. What made me pay attention was the addition of apps to the desktop OS, and a slow die off of full desktop applications (for various organic reasons; I'm not proposing a conspiracy). And there's the unified-OS movements to simplify development of desktop, tablet, phone and accessory (watches, thermostats, etc...) operating systems. There is a very real possibility that the desktop of the future will run apps available only through the OS store. With content restrictions we've never seen before.


RE: Troubling...
By Flunk on 8/28/2014 1:26:38 PM , Rating: 2
Vote with your wallet.


RE: Troubling...
By amanojaku on 8/28/2014 1:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
I did. "I don't want a smartphone and generally don't care about them" should read "I don't want a smartphone, don't own one, and generally don't care about them." I have a flip phone and I love it. This is a philosophical discussion.


RE: Troubling...
By datdamonfoo on 8/28/2014 2:27:37 PM , Rating: 2
How are the porn apps on your flip phone working out?


RE: Troubling...
By amanojaku on 8/28/2014 3:00:27 PM , Rating: 3
The only useful one is the vibrator app...


RE: Troubling...
By LordanSS on 8/28/2014 7:04:28 PM , Rating: 2
I'm in the same boat as you, amanojaku. Don't care for bulging smartphones, I've been using the same flip phone for the past 6 years, and I'm very happy with it.

For the "smart" stuff on the go, I have a Samsung android tablet, does the job fine. Got a gazillion episodes of shows I like and music on the SD card.

All the power to people who want their 5" smartphones on their pockets. I'm not part of that group, but I do like the fact that technology keeps pushing forward. True, I could care less for a 5" 1440p OLED screen on a phone... but if that's fitted into an Oculus Rift or Morpheus, good stuff.


RE: Troubling...
By w8gaming on 8/29/2014 10:16:52 PM , Rating: 2
Personally I think most companies care less about the morals of having adult content in their app store. What they are worried is the potential money loss if some groups start a lawsuit against them and win. Why be controversial and suffer potential loss while it is better to play it safe? Not like they can really make a whole chunks of money off them anyway.


this is good
By cokbun on 8/28/2014 10:02:32 PM , Rating: 1
the reason i dont use android anymore is because there's too many fartwares, clonewares, that it's not worth wasting my time to find a good quality software anymore.




RE: this is good
By bigboxes on 8/29/2014 10:03:34 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, good thing they don't make fart apps for Apple.


Surprise!
By brucek2 on 8/28/2014 3:48:46 PM , Rating: 2
"However, after reportedly getting complaints from some customers..."

So -- Microsoft executives were surprised that "some" customers did not appreciate paying for a false and misleading app?

My guess: probably the same ones that were surprised when "some" desktop users did not prefer having their whole desktop covered over by Metro tiles whenever they wanted to use their start menu.




By StraightPipe on 8/29/2014 12:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
Article says 300,000 then it says 170,000...

//seems relevant




By KOOLTIME on 8/29/2014 11:02:11 PM , Rating: 2

I don't think ive seen a non spam app do they even exist ?

If you ask any normal person 99.9% say they hate adware spam, yet 99.9% of businesses cater to doing exactly that to potential customers thats the current worlds business model.

cant even click on a youtube video without a 30 second car or insurance commercial spam 1st any more.

phone apps are a wild bunch of garbage doing noting but hijacking as much phone data as possible every time, for advertising dollars.




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