Microsoft takes steps to clean up its app store and remove misleading apps

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Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is taking steps to clean up its application storefront by removing apps whose name, category listing or icon might mislead customers. So far, Microsoft has removed 1,500 such apps and plans to keep on working with developers in an effort to clean up the store.

"Every app store finds its own balance between app quality and choice, which in turn opens the door to people trying to game the system with misleading titles or descriptions. Our approach has long been to create and enforce strong but transparent policies to govern our certification and store experience," Todd Brix, Microsoft's general manager for its Windows Apps and Store, wrote in a company blog post. "Earlier this year we heard loud and clear that people were finding it more difficult to find the apps they were searching for; often having to sort through lists of apps with confusing or misleading titles."

As part of the changes, names must "clearly and accurately reflect the functionality of the app," Microsoft said. The company is also making sure apps are "categorized according to the app function and purpose" and that the icons of apps "must be differentiated to avoid being mistaken with others."

The revised policies are being applied to all new app submissions and existing app updates for both the Windows and Windows Phone store, Brix wrote. "Most of the developers behind apps that are found to violate our policies have good intentions and agree to make the necessary changes when notified," he noted. "Others have been less receptive, causing us to remove more than 1,500 apps as part of this review so far (as always we will gladly refund the cost of an app that is downloaded as a result of an erroneous title or description)."

However, as Re/code notes, Microsoft still likely has quite a bit of work to do, as a search for the Flappy Bird game does not lead to any official versions of the app but instead to dozens of copy-cat apps. Article