Beware of deceptive apps in Windows Store

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 8, 2013
Updated • Jul 12, 2013
Windows, Windows 8

Back in June I mentioned that Windows Store had its fair share of what I called then media player spam. This referred to dozens of media player apps that were designed to confuse and for the most part rip off users of the store. Some used official names, other icons and colors of popular tools, and all cost money to buy.

While that is bad enough, it outlined a much bigger problem: deceptive apps that hop on the bandwagon of popular products to deceive shoppers. There are several kinds of these apps available in Windows Store which I'd like to group into a few categories to highlight the issue.

I'd like to mention that Windows Store is not the only app store with this kind of problem. These apps have however been in store for quite some time now and nothing has been done about it yet.

1. Tutorial apps

Okay, this may not be the most descriptive category description ever but read on to find out about it. There are dozens of apps in store that use official names and logos, are only available for money, and deceive the user in believing they are something that they are not.

WhatsApp Messenger Plus for example is available for $9.99 in store. The description explains what WhatsApp is in a large paragraph, and then tucked in between that it is only a tutorial for the messenger. There is also Whatsapp Messager here and WhatsApp Messenger for Windows 8: How to use.

These applications are available for a number of popular programs including Mozilla Firefox, iTunes,Google Drive, Winrar, BitDefender or Spotify.

Yes, some do not use the full product name only and add a how to use or something similar to it, but they do seem to use official icons and images of the programs and services.

Companies that do that are BA Media, with 49 apps of this kind in store right now, and Angry Birds Pro with 14 applications.

2. Website copies

website copies

It is relatively easy to display a website as an application in Windows 8. Some companies do so to create touch or desktop versions of websites for Windows 8. The apps are called Yahoo! Touch or IMDb Desktop, and display the website or service in question in the application. I cannot really say if they improve anything, or if they are 100% copies. Regardless of that, they do use official logos and names used by those websites and services, and while free, add advertisement to those sites.

3. Official names

official names

Some application developers go a step further than that. They use the official name of an app and make no effort to distinguish their product from the real thing.

I have already mentioned several of those products in the media player spam article: Windows Media Player 10 is for instance available for $4.99 each. It is however not produced by Microsoft, but by Stand Alone Apps. Facebook Mobile, available for $2.49 has received 1292 ratings at the time of writing even though it is not an official application but created by AnKo Software. on the other hand is available for $9.99, listed in the Music & Video category, and produced by a company called Hot Girl (which actually is a tutorial again it appears).

It is interesting to note that users have been scammed by applications before. Here are some quotes taken directly from the store:

Misleading this is NOT the app. Read the whole description. It is cleverly laid out to fool those who are not careful. Is is a very poorly produced tutorial too. Crap.

Completely Misleading. I just paid $8 for video tutorials... wtf. Not the app at all.

Do NOT BUY. Don't be duped by this app like I was. It is not the actual browser. It is only a stupid tutorial on how to use Firefox... and who needs that? Complete bs. I think it is intentional.

Disappointing. Not only does this app just wrap the mobile website and add a couple buttons, it also adds advertisement to your experience for just $2.49.

Closing Words

There appears to be an "anything goes" mentality right now in store which is fueled by an ineffective vetting process. Microsoft needs to take care of those apps in store to improve the user experience and avoid that users are scammed by applications that appear to be something which they are not.

This is not only bad for Windows users, but also for Microsoft and the companies whose products are referenced by those applications.


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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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