Windows Store has long been plagued with complaints about the low quality of apps, prevalence of spam, and the fact that popular apps are unavailable or missing key features. It’s a problem for Microsoft, which urgently wants to inspire more developers to build universal Windows apps.
In its quest to improve the quality of apps in the Store, Microsoft released some tips for developers last week on how to name and format their apps for maximum visibility.
Some of them are obvious: “Make sure you own the name, brand, icon and content.” “Build apps that offer more or different value than those already in the store.”
Others, however, specifically target common spam tactics and provide some insight as to how the Store’s search engine ranks apps. For example, rather than submitting multiple, related apps to the Store, Microsoft recommends consolidating as much content as possible into a single app:
Building a richer app will also help it have more opportunities to be considered to be featured in the Store, since a single app that has more content will have wider appeal compared to one app with less content.
Microsoft also advises limiting the number of keywords in app metadata and ensuring they are truly relevant to your app, rather than a jumble of popular search terms. And the company warns that submitting copycat or misleading apps will affect a developer’s reputation, negatively impacting search rankings for all of that developer’s apps.
While these tips are useful, they also contradict some developers’ experience with the Store, as a few devs pointed out in comments on Microsoft’s blog post. Developers frustrated at their apps’ lack of visibility in the Store are submitting multiple, related apps to try and hedge their bets. Others are finding that even apps with a relatively high number of downloads don’t pop up in search results at all until specific keywords are added.
Microsoft says that apps that don’t follow its guidelines might only appear via direct link, and not in search results, and asks developers to submit support tickets outlining their issues. It’s also reminding developers that they can order up to 250 promotional codes every six months to invite users to try out their apps.
In the long run, improving the quality of Windows Store will likely take some combination of educating developers and fixing the search rankings so they’re more logical and reliable. And of course, the biggest factor: Increasing adoption of Windows Phone and other Windows devices so developers have a bigger incentive to build apps in the first place.