Microsoft prunes deceiving apps from Windows Store, VLC caught in crossfire

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 25, 2014
Updated • Aug 25, 2014

When Microsoft released its Windows 8 operating system with a store component everything looked great on first glance. Since Microsoft would review all apps before they were made available to users, malicious or deceiving apps should not be an issue.

In mid-2013 I ran a story about how apps deceive users in either paying money for something that they are not, ride on the bandwagon of popular software, or simply embed websites of third-party services.

This was problematic on many levels. A user paying $9.99 for a WhatsApp tutorial app, a download of Firefox or a media player clone that does not bring anything new to the table, would certainly think twice before downloading anything from Windows Store again.

This damaged the store's reputation and the sheer number of rogue apps made it problematic for users to find what they are looking for.

This should not happen in first place considering that apps are reviewed before they land in store. But it happened, big time.

windows store issue

The How To Geek ran a similar story about a week ago which highlighted the same issues that I noticed back in 2013.

He provided several examples. A search for VLC for example resulted in the real app and more than ten programs posing as the player, using the player's icon, or using VLC in the name.

Some of the apps were commercial while others free of charge. The same for other popular software such as iTunes or Firefox.

It appears that Microsoft has started to clean the store. It is likely that the story and its republication on sites such as Reddit had something to do with it, but it is likely that this is the case.

If you search for VLC now, you only get one result that matches the name and alternative video players. While that is great, it is not the real VLC player. Why? Because the app left in store is offered for $14.99 while the "real VLC" is offered for free.

To make matters worse, VLC for Windows 8, that is the real one, is not listed in the search results anymore. While it is still listed on Microsoft's Windows Apps website, it is unclear if it has been removed by accident or if it is still available to some users.

Similar issues can be noticed when you search for other queries. If you search for iTunes, you get iTunes One as the second results for example. It is not an official Apple application but published by Digital Cloud Technologies LLC, a company that has published 79 different Windows apps up to this date including K-Lite Player, K-Lite Codec Pack, and dozens of other players.

Some queries on the other hand have been pruned correctly. If you search for Firefox, you don't get any app by that name anymore because there is no official Firefox app for Windows 8.

And WhatsApp? Also gone.


Microsoft has started to remove deceiving apps from Windows Store. This is a good thing even though it has not been thorough enough in several cases.

Leaving the paid unofficial VLC app in store is a blunder. It can happen, but employees reviewing store apps all day long should know the difference, especially since it is one of the high profile apps available in store.

Microsoft will sort this out eventually though and the removal of many of the scam apps has improved store usability already.

Microsoft prunes deceiving apps from Windows Store, VLC caught in crossfire
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Microsoft prunes deceiving apps from Windows Store, VLC caught in crossfire
Microsoft has started to remove scam apps from Windows Store in an effort to remove deceiving apps and improve the user experience.

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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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