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How Microsoft filled its Windows Store with app scams waiting to steal your money

Published Aug 18th, 2014 3:45PM EDT
Microsoft Windows Store Scam Apps

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Microsoft might have just stolen some money from you with help of the Windows Store. In an extensive look at the “cesspool of scams” in the Windows Store, How-To Geek reveals how the store is crammed with fake versions of popular paid apps that people are unwittingly giving money to. And it all happens with Microsoft’s knowledge, which has not only encouraged (read: paid) developers to create apps for Windows, but has already manually verified them and approved them, and it’s taking a cut of any profits developers make from sales.

Looking for various apps, including VLC, iTunes, Adobe’s Flash, Firefox, Candy Crush Saga, WhatsApp, Spotify, and many others, the search results will return many apps, in addition to the real ones, that charge users money for simply offering a link to the apps actual download link, if not actually sending them to malware-providing sites.

“Included in the list is ‘VLC Player Download’ for $4.99. Its description says “this app helps the users to know how to download install and why it is,’” the publication writes.

“For iTunes, there’s even an $8.99 app that ‘helps user to know how to use and download iTunes,’” How-To Geek adds.

To boost app numbers, Microsoft hosted a “Keep The Cash” promotion in March 2013, awarding app developers $100 per app completed, up to $2,000 per developer. Later, the company deleted all traces of said promotion from its websites, but an page still has the promotion listed.

While it’s any company’s right to do whatever it must do to achieve a goal, in this case paying devs money to improve a crippled Windows Store, what’s annoying about all of this is that all of the apps that make it into Microsoft’s Windows Store are approved by a Microsoft employee, at least according to what Microsoft has written in its app Certification documentation. Even worse, Microsoft then takes a commission out of a scam app sale, with unsuspecting customers having to pay the price.

In April 2014, Microsoft announced it has over 400,000 apps in the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store combined, including the many scams detailed in How-To Geek’s thorough look at the Windows app scam problem. The full article is available at the source link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.