Microsoft smokes out 1,500 bogus Windows 8 apps from its app store

Summary:Microsoft is toughening its stance on rogue apps in the Microsoft Store and Windows Phone Store.

In a bid to restore users' trust in its Windows 8 app store, Microsoft has kicked out a bunch of fake apps that had been left undisturbed in the Microsoft Store for some time.

The move, announced on a company blog, followed reports last week the store was hosting numerous fake products in the store, including bogus antivirus, Chrome and Safari browsers, a fake Windows 8.1 update, and an unofficial Adobe Flash Player from a developer called 'microsoft studioz'. While not necessarily malware, some developers were charging users for apps that are otherwise free to download.

Oddly, Microsoft seems to have done little to stop fake apps appearing in its store in the first place, despite the apps exposing users to scams and the risk of malware, and ultimately threatening to undermine the users trust in its fledgling app store.

According to Microsoft, the company has in fact been working on the problem, claiming it took complaints seriously earlier this year that users were having to wade through confusing or misleading titles to find authentic apps, and changed its certification policies as a result.

The changes mean that apps need to meet certain criteria around naming, categories, and icons, before they can be admitted to the store. According to the new policy, developers need to clearly and accurately reflect the functionality of the app in its name, ensure apps are categorised according to their function and purpose, and use icons that are differentiated from other apps'.

The new policy is also being applied to new submissions and existing app updates for apps in the Windows Phone Store, which may help address its problem there: back in May, the Windows Phone Store was  caught harbouring fake Google apps , a bogus Internet Explorer, and an ersatz Kaspersky Mobile security product.

The policy update has finally been coupled with actual enforcement for sellers that don't comply. Also, any victims can rest assured that they will be refunded if they've fallen for a scam. "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)," said Microsoft. 

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Topics: Security, Apps, Microsoft, Windows

About

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, s... Full Bio

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