Tech News The Biggest Problem with the Windows Store: Scams Everywhere


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Oct 11, 2010
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Windows 8's "Windows Store" is a great idea, but unfortunately, it's a disaster. It's full of scam apps, designed to trick you into buying an app you don't need.

Our friends over at the How-To Geek recently wrote a great piece about the biggest problem with the Windows Store, and how Microsoft has apparently done nothing to address it (despite claiming they would over a year ago). For example, here's what happens if you search for VLC, a popular free video player:

From the screenshot above, you'd be forgiven for thinking there are a lot of official VLC apps. There aren't — many apps are just copying VLC's trademark icon to make themselves look legitimate.

Luckily, VLC actually offers an official app for Windows 8, so "VLC for Windows 8″ is the first app in the list. In addition to various apps pretending to be VLC itself, there are paid apps offering a "VLC download." These apps exist to trick you into buying them — after you do, they give you a link to download the free VLC application. Hopefully they'll link you to the real one and not one filled with malware!

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." If that's too expensive for you, you can also get "Download Vlc Player" for $1.99 or "download vlc media player" for $1.29.

We aren't digging deep into the Store looking for this stuff. It's what pops up on the first page when we search for a popular app.
Of course, some of you more tech-savvy folks may be able to see through this charade, but it doesn't make it any less annoying—and it's a serious problem for those that may not be so savvy.

So what's the solution? Unfortunately, there isn't a great workaround here. But, here are a few things we recommend:

If you're downloading a desktop app, you're probably better off getting it from the developer's web site than searching in the Windows Store.
If you're downloading a "Modern UI" app, try checking the developer's web site for a link—or even trusted software sites like Lifehacker, How-To Geek, and others. You can trust they'll link you to the correct app in the store, no searching necessary.
If you must search the Windows Store, check the publisher of the app and make sure it matches the publisher of the app you want to download.

The Biggest Problem with the Windows Store: Scams Everywhere