A HTML-based Windows 10 Store client? What could go wrong?

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Fellow Brit Zac Bowden rightly calls out Microsoft in the editorial quoted below for cheaping out with the Windows 10 Store system - no effort put into keeping things fast and smooth and consistent. And while he's talking about Windows 10 generally and uses examples from the Desktop, it also applies on Mobile, of course.

From Zac's editorial:

The Microsoft Store on Windows 10 remains an integral part of the OS. It's how users can safely and securely pay for, download, and install their favorite third-party applications. But more importantly, it's how in-box system apps get updates to keep the OS current with new features. It's an integral part of the Windows as a Service experience, which is why I'm shocked at how bad the Microsoft Store as an app really is.

The Microsoft Store has several issues, the main one being a lack of apps. This is not helped by the fact that even Microsoft doesn't put all its apps in the store. Microsoft Teams, for example, isn't in there. Neither is Visual Studio Code, or Microsoft Office. This doesn't paint a positive picture to other developers looking to distribute their apps in the Microsoft Store.

Microsoft has said that the Store is still an active monetization channel for app developers on Windows 10, but Microsoft has done extraordinarily little to convince developers it's worth investing in. The Microsoft Store itself hasn't been updated with new features or changes in over two years, and the last major update actually made the store experience even worse by making native product pages web pages, slowing down the Store experience significantly.

Internally, Microsoft has more or less abandoned the Microsoft Store as an app. It now basically runs on its own, with a little maintenance here and there to make sure basic functionality still works. The problem with this is that as mentioned above, the Microsoft Store is still an integral part of the Windows as a Service experience. Without it, Microsoft couldn't issue updates to in-box app experiences on the fly.

...it's not the prettiest looking app on Windows 10. Xbox is about to launch a brand-new Microsoft Store app on Xbox One and Xbox Series X, which is a complete rewrite of the storefront with a new Fluent Design interface that's faster and way more intuitive. This same treatment should absolutely apply to the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 as well, but so far there's no sign of a new Microsoft Store app for desktop in the works.

Another offender is that the Microsoft Store app is slow. Clicking on an app takes several seconds to load that apps product page. Clicking on important buttons such as "install" also takes several seconds to do anything, and more often than not I have to press the install button multiple times before something happens.

The Microsoft Store's original promise was that it provided a safe and streamlined way of download apps. So when Microsoft decided that it no longer wanted Office to be part of the Microsoft Store, instead of removing its apps, it just made the install button redirect to your web browser, where it would then download the manual Office desktop installer. This is the furthest from a streamlined app store experience an app store can get. What a joke.

Do click through to read the whole thing if you want to see some more Store-bashing!

The concept of basing your Store client on HTML and the web must seem so enticing to companies. Nokia did it for the 'Ovi' Store back in the late 2000s and the result was something functional but prone to mishaps and always slow, since most navigation actions required reloading a web page. The sole benefit is easier maintenance for the companies concerned, i.e. Nokia or Microsoft, since most of the work on a product page from a central database can be re-used on all views from all devices. It's a lowest common denominator approach.

So yes, I'm sure most readers are familiar with browsing around the 'Microsoft Store' on a Windows 10 Mobile phone and being frustrated with the speed of loading, with display glitches, database mismatches (being offered apps and games that don't actually work on the phone) and download errors. And that's before considering the bogus or cash-in-quick apps of no value.

It does sounds from what Zac says that he doesn't expect the Store to improve anytime soon either. (In fairness, the Store/ex-Store situation is much the same on the Mac, with at least half my apps on my iMac coming from standalone downloads on independent web sites, but at least the Store itself is fast and fluid, being much more 'native' to Mac OS.)

With Windows 10 Mobile now being out of support, nothing will change on our phones, I strongly suspect, but it's still nice to see someone call out Microsoft on the Store experience in general.


Typical Store display glitches in the last couple of years...

Source / Credit: WC