The Biggest Problem With The Windows Store: Scams Everywhere

The Biggest Problem With The Windows Store: Scams Everywhere

Windows 8’s “Windows Store” is a great idea, but it’s a disaster. It’s full of scams, designed to trick you into buying apps you don’t need.

Our friends over at the How-To Geek recently wrote a great piece about the biggest problem with the Windows Store, and how Microsoft has apparently done nothing to address it (despite claiming they would over a year ago). For example, here’s what happens if you search for VLC, a popular free video player:

From the screenshot above, you’d be forgiven for thinking there are a lot of official VLC apps. There aren’t — many apps are just copying VLC’s trademark icon to make themselves look legitimate.

Luckily, VLC actually offers an official app for Windows 8, so “VLC for Windows 8″ is the first app in the list. In addition to various apps pretending to be VLC itself, there are paid apps offering a “VLC download.” These apps exist to trick you into buying them — after you do, they give you a link to download the free VLC application. Hopefully they will link you to the real one and not one filled with malware!

Included in the list is “VLC Player Download” for $US4.99. Its description says “this app helps the users to know how to download install and why it is.” If that’s too expensive for you, you can also get “Download Vlc Player” for $US1.99 or “download vlc media player” for $US1.29.

We aren’t digging deep into the Store looking for this stuff. It’s what pops up on the first page when we search for a popular app.

Of course, some of you more tech-savvy folks may be able to see through this charade, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying — and it’s a serious problem for those that may not be so savvy.

So what’s the solution? Unfortunately, there isn’t a great workaround here. But, here are a few things we recommend:

  • If you’re downloading a desktop app, you’re probably better off getting it from the developer’s web site than searching in the Windows Store.
  • If you’re downloading a “Modern UI” app, try checking the developer’s web site for a link — or even trusted software sites like Lifehacker, How-To Geek, and others. You can trust they will link you to the correct app in the store, no searching necessary.
  • If you must search the Windows Store, check the publisher of the app and make sure it matches the publisher of the app you want to download.

None of these are foolproof, and it’s absurd that Microsoft hasn’t fixed this problem — particularly when Apple and Google have shown that it’s easily doable. Hit the link below to read more.

The Windows Store is a Cesspool of Scams — Why Doesn’t Microsoft Care? [How-To Geek]


  • @willd is right. This might be why they haven’t done anything, so as to give the illusion they have heaps of apps to choose from.

  • Let’s be honest, what store doesn’t have scams? Google store was reported to have quite a few scams in it’s store.

    • Every online storefront has scams, but the Windows Store has a lot more of them and they’re even more rarely culled. The problem stems from the fact that many official apps skip Windows entirely, or launch much later, so unscrupulous scammers fill the niche.

      Until very recently, the first results for ‘Dropbox’ were clones indistinguishable from the official app due to their use of the company name, logo, and screenshots from other platforms. You wouldn’t suspect a thing unless you noticed the publisher was “Nikash R.” This has been plaguing the platform since launch and Microsoft seems more laissez faire than Apple or Google, whether to inflate their numbers or just laziness, I don’t know. Just look at the Flappy Bird clones.

  • Wait… there’s a windows store in windows 8? …. I haven’t seen or used it once 😐 iobit start menu ftw?

  • Some of them aren’t scams, but you need to read the descriptions or titles carefully, as some of them are just apps that provide you with access to training videos for that particular app.

    But @WillD is right, the apps in the store are crap outside of a Surface environment. Though Multimedia8 and the VLC app are superb and I use them on an almost daily basis, that’s about it.

  • Perhaps if Microsoft are so desperate to keep the apps there to inflate numbers they should also include a dedicated section for “curated” apps…

  • the windows phone 8 store is just as bad. i love my windows phone but the app store is a scary place to be lol.

    • I don’t think it’s the same thing. The phone store is full of imitation apps, because the official developers haven’t made their apps available for WP8. For example, 6snap is an unofficial Snapchat app because there is no official Snapchat app. 6snap isn’t a scam app though, it’s actually a very good Snapchat app. Most of the imitation apps that I’ve come across are like 6snap. I’ve seen very few scam apps.

      The Windows store OTOH is full of imitations for apps that already exist in the store.

  • It makes the illusion that the windows store has lots of softwares, makes users think that they can find any software they want in the store.
    Commercial companies will find excuse rather than point out the real reason.

  • I bought a Surface 2 from JB over the weekend and this is my biggest issue. It makes me not want to use the Windows Store ever again. It is impossible to find anything.

  • The windows store is worse because it doesn’t have an official app for a lot of things.
    Yes: Facebook, Twitter
    No: Facebook messenger, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, Beats music/mog, YouTube, ABC iView, Steam, Flickr, Foxtel, Google+, Google Maps, Google Hangouts, Spotify, Pandora

    Most of the fakes are clear trademark violations. It’s a big problem because most of the missing apps are the ones that would benefit the most from connected standby. The absolute numbers aren’t the gap people are referring to, it’s the lack of key apps. No-one cares 10 000 vs 10 000 000 as long as the top 1000 are there.

  • And to think people used to complain about the locked down nature of the Apple app store.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!