Microsoft removing Windows Apps with "Windows" in name is a mistake

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 19, 2018
Updated • Feb 19, 2018

Some Windows application publishers who use "Windows" in the name of published apps received legal notifications from Microsoft in February 2018 to either change the name and branding of applications or have them removed from store instead.

Two German Windows sites, Dr. Windows and Windows Area, revealed that a law firm acting on behalf of Microsoft contacted them about their infringing apps Dr. Windows and Windows Area.

Martin Geuss, the publisher of the Dr. Windows application, was asked to comply in a day's time. He stated that he received the note on a Saturday and was asked to rename or remove the app until Sunday to comply with Microsoft's demand.

Both sites published their Windows apps in 2012 for Windows 8 initially and updated them throughout the years.

windows app copyright windows store

Microsoft removed the Windows Area application in the meantime from Windows Store. The Dr. Windows application is still available. Martin Geuss limited the application's regional reach to the German speaking countries Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Microsoft's law firm listed the United States as the country of the infringement and the move may have saved the app from removal.

It is not clear whether that is really the case though, or if the app will be removed in the coming days or weeks as well.

Another thing that is not clear is whether other application publishers with applications that have "windows" in the name were contacted by Microsoft as well.

A quick check in the Microsoft Store reveals several candidates for that. These can be grouped into two categories:

  • Apps that are named after sites that have Windows in the name, e,g, Windows Central, Next of Windows blog, or Dr. Windows.
  • Apps that have Windows in the name, e.g. SoundCloud for Windows, Announcements for Windows, or Windows 8 Cheat Keys.

It is arbitrariness if Microsoft's law firm contacted some application publishers in group one but not all of them.

Applications that use "for Windows" or similar in their name are probably safe but others may not be safe as it is not really clear, for example, whether "Windows 8 Cheat Keys" is an official app or not.

Closing Words

Microsoft is doing itself a disservice in my opinion. While the company may have the right to ask for the renaming or removal of applications with "windows" in the name, it seems that no one at Microsoft thought of the ramifications that this might have.

Microsoft is asking long-term Windows supporting sites -- some would say fan-sites -- to remove their long-standing apps from the Store. It is impracticable for these sites to rename the application as they'd remove the brand identity if they'd rename the apps.

It is almost impossible to confuse third-party applications created by Windows and Microsoft blogs with official applications by Microsoft.

One thing that Microsoft could do to improve the situation on its end is to add a "first-party" or "official" flag or marker to its own applications in the Store to make it clearer to customers.

It is arbitrary if Microsoft asked only some publishers but not others, and that is in my opinion even worse than asking all publishers.

Affected publishers may also wonder what comes next. Will Microsoft go after established publisher domains like or next?

Apple and Google do the same by the way on the iOS and Android store.

Now You: What's your take on this?

Microsoft removing Windows Apps with
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Microsoft removing Windows Apps with "Windows" in name is a mistake
Some Windows application publishers who use "Windows" in the name of published apps received legal notifications from Microsoft to either change the name and branding of applications or have them removed from store instead.
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  1. KeZa_BE said on February 21, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    Monopoly or not but Microotje is delving his own graveyard…. I tell you this is gonna sting badly for them if they keep this up because nobody in there right mind can look the other way all the time. And they know it that it is now or never because the Windows Phone was a bummer and if I read the reactions every time W10 come up it’s also becoming a dark hole…

  2. jern said on February 21, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    So, the guy on the street with his sign “Windows washed” now has to pay a licensing fee? The world is becoming so tight-assed you can’t hiccup anymore without somebody charging you. Ridiculous.

  3. leland said on February 21, 2018 at 1:18 am

    Definitely a good way to lose developers. I guess they are such a monopoly they don’t care any more…

  4. Anonymous said on February 20, 2018 at 5:00 am

    I feel sorry for everyone named “Bob”. Once they get done going after all the names with “Windows” in them, they’ll move on to other names in their catalog and it’s only a matter of time before they get to “Microsoft Bob” and start sending out the cease and desist letters. Unless, of course, they let that trademark lapse.

  5. Wayfarer said on February 20, 2018 at 3:44 am

    Are MS now claiming copyright on the entire English language?

    Merrian-Webster: Definition of window:
    An opening especially in the wall of a building for admission of light and air that is usually closed by casements or sashes containing transparent material (such as glass) and capable of being opened and shut

    1. AnorKnee Merce said on February 20, 2018 at 7:28 am

      @ Wayfarer

      M$’s trademark is for “Windows”, not “window” or “windows” or “Window”.

      Apple’s trademark is for “Apple”, not “apple”, “apples” or “Apples” or “applet”.
      ……. In 1981, Apple Inc had to pay Apple Records(= the Beatles) some US$millions in settlement, in order to continue using “Apple” as their trademark.

  6. ULBoom said on February 20, 2018 at 12:25 am

    Blurry. I used autoruns for years before learning it was a MS invention. There have to be countless programs with Window or Windows in the title, Home Windows Design for Windows, etc. Not really the intent of a trademark for protecting a product, these aren’t threats. DRWINDOWS still has windows buried in it but not as a separate word, how does MS decide?

    1. ScruffyD said on February 21, 2018 at 8:18 pm

      It wasn’t created by Microsoft. It was created by SysInternals, which was purchased after the fact by Microsoft.

  7. AnorKnee Merce said on February 19, 2018 at 8:45 pm


    n. a distinctive design, picture, emblem, logo or wording (or combination) affixed to goods for sale to identify the manufacturer as the source of the product and to distinguish them from goods sold or made by others.

    “Windows” is a registered trademark of M$.

    Maybe, Dr. Windows and WindowsCentral should be changed to Dr. Win-dows or Dr. Win and Win-dowsCentral or WinCentral.

  8. john said on February 19, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    I think Microsoft (and the others – Google, Apple, Facebook, etc) think of their users as not having much intelligence. It’s how they run their businesses. The naming issue is yet another reflection of that.

  9. LD said on February 19, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Windows Central isn’t the only ‘help site’ using Windows in their name. These is also Windows 7 Help forums, Windows 8 Help Forums and Windows 10 Help Forums; all three are separate sites that are not associated with Microsoft. They have some excellent tutorials on maintaining, fixing and tweaking Windows, but they also allow their members to vent their frustrations with Windows. I wonder if they got the notification too.

    As this is being executed by a law firm, I expect they see no reason to take prisoners. Just aim and shoot. Microsoft issued the directive so they are serious about it. Personally, I think Microsoft has decided to control everything under the Windows name because of the Windows as-a-Service direction. They are leveraging the name to generate much greater revenue streams and they do not want others cashing in on that.

  10. pHROZEN gHOST said on February 19, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Microsoft is going to demand that all uses of the name of their product be replaced by Windows ™. This includes all documents on personal computers everywhere.

  11. psidium said on February 19, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Martin mistake = SAFE not SAVE

  12. Sentynal said on February 19, 2018 at 11:28 am

    To make an analogy.
    You wouldn’t make radios only for Honda cars and call it Honda Radios, you would call it Radios (for Honda).
    The public will associate Honda Radios as made by Honda.

    My guess is that Microsoft are fed up of public complaining to them that software not made by them is broken. Also if software with the name windows breaks your computer in some way, you may associate that poor software with Microsoft and bring it into disrepute.

    The public are fickle like that :)

    1. Paul's Dad. said on February 19, 2018 at 3:50 pm

      Corporations always play up how many complaints they get about stuff that isn’t theirs. It’s hogwash. It barely bothers them, and certainly doesn’t bother the investors. They say stuff like that to get gullible people to sympathize with them in whatever move their doing now.

  13. Heimen Stoffels said on February 19, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Windows Central has teamed up with Microsoft from the very beginning and they still team up today, so it would be very, very weird if Microsoft started bitching about the name only now as they clearly knew from their teaming up from day one that they had the word “Windows” in their name.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 19, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Heimen, this appears to be the same for Dr.Windows in Germany. The site ran the Dr. Windows Community Day 2017 in Microsoft’s headquarter in Germany.

  14. RED said on February 19, 2018 at 11:20 am

    The pitcher goes so often to the well that it is broken at last

  15. Stefan said on February 19, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Microsoft is getting more and more ridicilous each day……

    1. dark said on February 20, 2018 at 11:58 am

      Next, Microsoft will say we can’t call our windows Windows. :P
      I am ofc talking about about real windows, not Windows OS. ;)

    2. Windows Tax said on February 20, 2018 at 1:08 am

      Microsoft is a government-protected monopoly and they know they can get away with anything. The latest example, this week the US Air Force is being forced to update to Windows 10 because according to MS marketing it will be more secure. So now the Air Force says it has to buy new hardware to run Windows 10! In other words, the monopoly is pocketing hundreds of millions or a few billion more in “free” tax revenue. Microsoft gets paid, the generals get paid, the politicians get paid, HP or whoever else supplies the hardware gets paid, the IT contractor gets paid, taxpayers get robbed. And then Microsoft will write “The US Air Force prefers Windows 10”.

      1. Dave said on February 20, 2018 at 3:22 pm

        That the Air Force is using computer hardware so old it can not run windows 10 is scary.

      2. John Fenderson said on February 20, 2018 at 7:15 pm

        Why? As long as it works properly, I don’t see an inherent problem with running old hardware.

      3. Ron said on February 20, 2018 at 6:04 pm

        That’s the way it is with most long-time government agencies. The IRS code is mostly written in assembler, so you know the hardware hasn’t been changed in a while.

    3. Mike O said on February 19, 2018 at 10:49 am

      As if they already haven’t done enough ridiculous stuff at this point.

      1. Gary D said on February 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm

        Wait for next month’s ridiculous idea from CEO Satya Nadella’s office. :)

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