Linked by jockm on Thu 28th Aug 2014 22:18 UTC
Windows

Microsoft has explained that they have removed more than 1500 apps from the store.

Every app store finds its own balance between app quality and choice, which in turn opens the door to people trying to game the system with misleading titles or descriptions. Our approach has long been to create and enforce strong but transparent policies to govern our certification and store experience. Earlier this year we heard loud and clear that people were finding it more difficult to find the apps they were searching for; often having to sort through lists of apps with confusing or misleading titles.

[...]

This process is continuing as we work to be as thorough and transparent as possible in our review. 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).

The upside is that the store becomes a better, less cluttered and misleading place; the downside is that the walled garden is stronger. Is a top down approach really what we want, or is there a a better, community driven, approach that could be taken?

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Wondercool
Member since:
2005-07-08

Yahoo! 1500 down, 98500 to go!

Reply Score: 2

Missing link
by jockm on Thu 28th Aug 2014 23:21 UTC
jockm
Member since:
2012-12-22

It appears that the link I included got lost in the process. Here is the link to the MS blog post: http://blogs.windows.com/buildingapps/2014/08/27/how-were-addressin...

Reply Score: 5

Good
by bram on Thu 28th Aug 2014 23:35 UTC
bram
Member since:
2009-04-03

It's good to see some pro-active policing.
Apple and Google should ramp up their store sanitation as well.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Good
by jockm on Thu 28th Aug 2014 23:46 UTC in reply to "Good"
jockm Member since:
2012-12-22

Let me reiterate the question I put at the end of the post. Is this really the way we want to go about it? I seem to recall lots of complaints about draconian rules and walled gardens (on this site and elsewhere), and now we have folk calling for the walls to get higher and the rules stronger.

Don't get me wrong, I think that the stores need to be cleaned up as well, but I am not sure this is the best way to go about it.

For example, what if there were two parts of the app store, one that held anything developers wanted to submit (given some broad limitations regarding security, etc). Then a second one that has all the apps given the Seal of Approval.

This latter one would be what you see going in and searches would show those results first, then you would have to click though to see the rest. That way you get an open store, but you provide a curated experience as well.

Or maybe some kind of community based moderation and/or reputation system that allows for separating the wheat from the chaff.

If we keep pushing for more and more top down control, I fear we will get the app store we deserve...

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Good
by BluenoseJake on Fri 29th Aug 2014 00:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Good"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

There's been a few articles complaining about the crap in all the app stores, unilateral or not, at least Microsoft is responding to the problem.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Good
by cdude on Fri 29th Aug 2014 01:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Good"
cdude Member since:
2008-09-21

I think the walled garden does not apply in this case.


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.


Title and description need to reflect what the app really is about. That should be common sense and just makes lot of sense.

The approch Microsoft picked is not a wall, not from my perspective. As I understood it the review gives feedback what needs to be improved in case the description is missleading. This doesn't sound questionable at all for me. I would even say its a good thing to improve on that front for both, users and developers.

The quality of an application starts before downloading and with such numbers of apps its vital to know what the app is really about before downloading (and maybe even paying) just by reading the description.

A community-driven QA-review, like voting and comments, is a very good think but by no means a replacement.

Edited 2014-08-29 01:43 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Good
by Alfman on Fri 29th Aug 2014 02:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Good"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

cdude,

I think the walled garden does not apply in this case.

...
Title and description need to reflect what the app really is about. That should be common sense and just makes lot of sense.


While I agree with your overall post, cleaning up apps is important, I must disagree with your first statement that the walled garden isn't applicable. The quality of the store is not what makes it a walled garden or not. The windows store is still a walled garden for the metro platform since users aren't allowed to install apps outside of the windows store.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Good
by cdude on Fri 29th Aug 2014 08:07 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Good"
cdude Member since:
2008-09-21

Correct, thats why I wrote not applies *in this case*. The article suggestes that the title+description requirement makes it *more* a walled garden. Thats not the case in my opinion. The walled garden case is just irrelevant for this requirment. In fact I, as user and developer, expect (and get since ages) the same from my Linux distribution / BSD flavor.

Or to turn it around: just because review didn't care before about title, description and logo doesn't mean the appstore was lesser of a walled garden before.

Edited 2014-08-29 08:26 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Good
by karunko on Fri 29th Aug 2014 06:46 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Good"
karunko Member since:
2008-10-28

A community-driven QA-review, like voting and comments, is a very good think but by no means a replacement.

Also because reviews/votes/rankings can certainly be gamed: https://www.google.com/#q=fake+reviews+app+store


RT.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Good
by jockm on Fri 29th Aug 2014 14:42 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Good"
jockm Member since:
2012-12-22

Every system has faults, but I would also suggest that the current ranking systems aren't well designed.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Good
by Alfman on Fri 29th Aug 2014 03:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Good"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

jockm,

I agree, these walled gardens are very troubling. It's too much power in too few hands.

I think one solution would be to substitute "app store" with an "app mall" metaphor. In shopping malls, not everyone has to go to the same stores. We all have different tastes/preferences/needs.

Just think one brick and mortar store for shoes, computers, kitchen appliances, sports, lawnmowers, pet supplies, groceries, pharmacy, books, etc, and you couldn't go anywhere else for anything. That's essentially what the walled garden provides us with.

Yes we have stores that try to be everything to everyone, and they can be ok for some things, but sometimes we benefit from specialized stores that can do a better job at serving us. The central app store model deprives us of this specialization as well as app store competition. Competing app stores would have a strong natural incentive to select quality products. It doesn't need to stock a hundred different wrenches, just one or two good ones. Some customers just want cheap products, others want high end products, let different stores cater to them. Having one-size-fits-all leads to these notoriously crappy app stores that are frustrating for everyone.


There would be a huge benefit for developers as well since we'd have far more reasonable odds at getting decent exposure in one of the many smaller stores rather than being invisible in the giant app store today. I'm loving the app-mall idea, it would give the industry the healthy free market jolt it so desperately needs. However walled gardens are here today due to corporate interests and greed...since that's not going to go away, it's hard to be optimistic that any of the platforms would voluntarily open up to competitors and provide the APIs & support to promote their stores.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Good
by Moochman on Sat 30th Aug 2014 07:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Good"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

That's actually more or less exactly what Microsoft did with Windows Media Player... unfortunately it never got much traction though, perhaps because there wasn't an official Microsoft "base" music store to start with. Perhaps if Microsoft opened up Windows for additional alternative stores it might work out better this time... but as you said, fat chance...

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Good
by Alfman on Sat 30th Aug 2014 12:58 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Good"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Moochman,

That's actually more or less exactly what Microsoft did with Windows Media Player... unfortunately it never got much traction though, perhaps because there wasn't an official Microsoft "base" music store to start with. Perhaps if Microsoft opened up Windows for additional alternative stores it might work out better this time... but as you said, fat chance...


Interesting, I didn't even know this about Media Player because I never used it. I'm trying to open live365 under media player, it doesn't work (javascript errors, prompts to install flash - note flash is installed and does work generally). The store has big ads, and a humongous banner telling me to install it from the apple and google app stores.

Right now it looks like the "media player stores" are little more than links to webpages, has it always been this way? I'd probably use the web browser anyways. But it's good to learn something new, thanks for pointing it out.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Good
by WereCatf on Fri 29th Aug 2014 07:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Good"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Let me reiterate the question I put at the end of the post. Is this really the way we want to go about it? I seem to recall lots of complaints about draconian rules and walled gardens (on this site and elsewhere), and now we have folk calling for the walls to get higher and the rules stronger.


You don't have to have walls on the device itself if you only build the walls around the app store; police and maintain strong rules in the app store, delete and remove misleading app, ban badly-behaving devs and whatnot so as to provide a safe, sane set of apps for the less-technically inclined to choose from while still allowing more experienced people to install applications from outside that store, including whole other app stores.

Or maybe some kind of community based moderation and/or reputation system that allows for separating the wheat from the chaff.


It's been proven over and over again that a "community approach" to these kinds of things never work, they are simply too easy to game and a large part of the "community" doesn't care, their vote is up for sale, they simply enjoy ruining things for other people and so upvote bad things and downvote the good ones and/or they're entirely malicious. Humans in general are assholes, you'd still need top-down moderation to ever get anywhere.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Good
by hardcode57 on Fri 29th Aug 2014 15:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Good"
hardcode57 Member since:
2014-06-02

I've no problem with a fully managed app store so long as you can sideload. Otherwise, I like your option of a two tier store.

In reality, if the store owner is offering money-back guarantees, we have to respect their right to cull apps that would tend to exercise said guarantees, and if they did offer a two-tier store, the unregulated tier would have to be 'at your own risk'.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Good
by japh on Fri 29th Aug 2014 09:32 UTC in reply to "Good"
japh Member since:
2005-11-11

It's good to see some pro-active policing.


Waiting until the situation get so unbearable that the net starts filling up with articles about how bad things are is not what I'd call "pro-active".

Microsoft is often good at listening when people complain loud enough, but they're re-active. Especially in this case when number of apps seems to be the way to measure success, they wouldn't have removed apps if it wasn't a burden to keep them.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Good
by CaptainN- on Fri 29th Aug 2014 16:23 UTC in reply to "Good"
CaptainN- Member since:
2005-07-07

This is a regular gardening exercise, not a walled garden. Otherwise it's the jungle - or a desert.

Edited 2014-08-29 16:24 UTC

Reply Score: 1

More Clean Up Needed...
by Panthros on Fri 29th Aug 2014 02:45 UTC
Panthros
Member since:
2014-04-22

This is the way to do it. You are not required to put stuff in the store or purchase from the store. Each company should feel free to curate the content as they see fit. I am sure we will see Apple and Google do more of this since Microsoft has taken the first step in making the store better for everyone.

Reply Score: 2

RE: More Clean Up Needed...
by leos on Fri 29th Aug 2014 15:55 UTC in reply to "More Clean Up Needed..."
leos Member since:
2005-09-21

Apple abd Google are already way ahead on this. Microsoft has just cleaned up a bit of the total crap that wouldn't have even gotten into the App Store to start with

Reply Score: 1

Yay for the walled garden!
by theosib on Fri 29th Aug 2014 11:41 UTC
theosib
Member since:
2006-03-02

Ubuntu's software repository is a concentric set of walled gardens. Random people don't choose what's in there. The distro maintaners do. If you use apt-get to install something, you can be pretty sure it's safe UNLESS YOU'VE ADDED A NONSTANDARD REPOSITORY.

And that last part is the user's choice and risk. It does not bother me that these app stores are walled gardens. I feel it's an important service. On the other hand, the fact that you can ONLY install apps from these sources is limiting.

In the case of Apple (who like to be extra-strict about this), one approach would be to provide a web service that presents certain questions and warnings, and when the user completes the quiz, they get a code to enter into their iOS device to unlock installing of 3rd party apps. This protects users from nefarious apps and creates a reasonable barrier against attackers flipping the switch willy-nilly. The switch should be flipped only when the user REALLY wants to. And once the device is unlocked in this way, the user takes most of the responsibility for the effects of installing something they shouldn't have.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Yay for the walled garden!
by Alfman on Fri 29th Aug 2014 14:53 UTC in reply to "Yay for the walled garden!"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

theosib,

Ubuntu's software repository is a concentric set of walled gardens. Random people don't choose what's in there. The distro maintaners do.


I'm going to nitpick and point out that ubuntu (and debian, etc) is simply a "garden", not a "walled garden" since you are absolutely free to go elsewhere. It's absolutely not the same as true device walled garden like ios, metro, roku, etc.

And that last part is the user's choice and risk. It does not bother me that these app stores are walled gardens. I feel it's an important service. On the other hand, the fact that you can ONLY install apps from these sources is limiting.


I agree that stores can and should be moderated, they pick what apps they carry, no problem. The problem is having products which are locked to that store - that's what makes it a walled garden.

...one approach would be to provide a web service that presents certain questions and warnings, and when the user completes the quiz, they get a code to enter into their iOS device to unlock installing of 3rd party apps. This protects users from nefarious apps and creates a reasonable barrier against attackers flipping the switch willy-nilly...


This would certainly be better, there's no reason it shouldn't be built into the OS ala android, but even that's not sufficient IMHO. There are more innovative ways we could offer software if it weren't for conflicts of interest. These stores haven't really benefited from much competition on their respective platforms and that's the way they like it. Consumers deserve genuine store competition with multiple viable players to truly compete on merit. They need proper exposure and should not be hidden to the average consumer, this is where I came up with the "app mall" metaphor earlier. We can't have healthy store competition when restrictions and preferential treatment are hardwired into our devices.

Edited 2014-08-29 14:59 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Yay for the walled garden!
by kompak on Fri 29th Aug 2014 20:00 UTC in reply to "Yay for the walled garden!"
kompak Member since:
2011-06-14

In the case of Apple (who like to be extra-strict about this), one approach would be to provide a web service that presents certain questions and warnings, and when the user completes the quiz, they get a code to enter into their iOS device to unlock installing of 3rd party apps.


I believe that's called jailbreaking.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Yay for the walled garden!
by theosib on Fri 29th Aug 2014 21:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Yay for the walled garden!"
theosib Member since:
2006-03-02

No. Jailbreaking is when you unlock it without explicit support from the vendor. What I'm describing would be the vendor enabling an expert mode.

Reply Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I don't mean to go off on a rant here


And then you proceed to go on a rant.

As for the rant: spreading FUD and appearing like a total raving lunatic isn't the way to get people to use Linux. Grow up kid.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Sat 30th Aug 2014 00:24 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

People want the freedom to put anything they want in app stores. "Let the people decide!"... But then they get pissed when the app stores are filled with garbage and crap. Sounds like some people won't be happy no matter what happens.

The idea that Microsoft should not have final say or `police rights` in what occupies their app store, running on their servers, for use with their products/services, is amusing to say the least. It's astonishing what people think they're entitled to. God forbid a company actually tries to provide its customers better quality and a better experience at the expense of not allowing their store to be a dumpster just cuz some people think they have a non-existent right to use it as such..

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by Alfman on Sat 30th Aug 2014 02:59 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

ilovebeer,

People want the freedom to put anything they want in app stores. "Let the people decide!"... But then they get pissed when the app stores are filled with garbage and crap. Sounds like some people won't be happy no matter what happens.

The idea that Microsoft should not have final say or `police rights` in what occupies their app store, running on their servers, for use with their products/services, is amusing to say the least. It's astonishing what people think they're entitled to. God forbid a company actually tries to provide its customers better quality and a better experience at the expense of not allowing their store to be a dumpster just cuz some people think they have a non-existent right to use it as such..


I sincerely mean this when I say let Microsoft do whatever it wants within their store. But microsoft jurisdiction should end at their store and should not extend onto consumer devices they don't own. It's about having the freedom to do what we want on "our" devices without needing permission from microsoft, it shouldn't be any of their business.

Edit: I know, I'm a broken record by now. It's just that there wouldn't be any controversy here if microsoft didn't control all app installation vectors.

Edited 2014-08-30 03:16 UTC

Reply Score: 3