Microsoft begins Windows Store crapware purge

August 29, 2014 // 10:06 a.m.

Tags: #app-store #crapware #malware #microsoft #trojan-horse #windows #windows-8 #windows-store

Microsoft has pledged to remove misleading and malicious applications from its Windows Store digital distribution service, beginning with the immediate purging of 1,500 of the worst offenders.

Windows has been slow to adopt the app store model of its rivals, integrating the functionality into its core operating system only with the launch of Windows 8. Like similar services on Apple's OS X and various Linux distributions, most notably Canonical's Ubuntu and its Software Centre, the Windows Store provides a unified source for both free and paid-for applications which can be quickly acquired, downloaded and installed.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has up to now been doing a poor job of curating its Windows Store. Many of the applications present on the service are so-called 'crapware' - not actively malicious, but often charging money for something users could get for free or purporting to be a version of a popular application but in reality being something completely different.

It's a problem Microsoft has now acknowledged. 'Earlier this year we heard loud and clear that people were finding it more difficult to find the apps they were searching for, admitted Microsft's Todd Brix in a blog post this week, 'often having to sort through lists of apps with confusing or misleading titles. We took the feedback seriously and modified the Windows Store app certification requirements as a first step toward better ensuring that apps are named and described in a way that doesn’t misrepresent their purpose.'

The new rules will require that applications listed on the service are named clearly and accurately, and that the name reflects the true functionality of the application. Combined with the requirement that icons are differentiated, preventing the common tactic of a third-party app stealing an icon from a well-known package, the company is hoping the quality of available software on the service will improve in due course. Already, the review has resulted in numerous applications changing their ways, while another 1,500 whose developers refused to comply with the new rules have been removed from the Windows Store altogether.

For crapware that still populates the Windows Store, the company has asked that its users report all such applications through official channels or by emailing reportapp@microsoft.com.

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