Microsoft is cleaning house in the Windows Store, enacting policies that could see some apps removed as it tries to reduce clutter and ensure fair pricing ahead of the Windows 10 launch later this year.
The new policies, designed to make it easier for users to find quality apps, will also clamp down on developers who abuse keywords to game the Store's search results.
First off, Microsoft wants to ensure users can distinguish between different apps, which means developers will need to use icons that accurately reflect what a program does, and that aren't too similar to other app icons in the store. The same rules will apply to application titles, and to application functionality.
"For example, when there are many apps that do not provide differentiated value (e.g. many flashlight apps with the same look and feel and functionality), some may be removed from the Store," Bernardo Zamora, a product manager on the Windows Apps and Store team, said in a blog post.
It's unclear in such cases how Microsoft will determine which apps stay and which apps go.
In addition, guide and tutorial applications that teach people how to use different software programs will need icons that clearly label them as such, so that they stand out from the apps they're based on. To further reduce spam, Microsoft will limit developers to 8 search keywords and require that all the keywords be relevant to an app's functionality.
Apps that are priced well above their competitors but that don't provide substantially improved functionality may also get yanked under the new rules. Zamora said that's to ensure Windows users feel they can get a fair price when they're selecting applications to purchase and install.
The rules have a clear motivation behind them: Windows 10 is right around the corner, and Microsoft wants all developers to create apps for the Windows Universal App Platform that will be distributed through the Store. By clearing out the crud from its digital storefront, Microsoft could make Windows 10 a more appealing option for developers — something the company clearly wants. Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president of operating systems, said in April that the company wants a billion devices running Windows 10 by the end of its 2018 fiscal year.
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