Any app store is bound to contain a certain amount of spam - apps that offer little value. Microsoft Windows Store for Windows 8, though, has more than its fair share - it brims with them.
What kind of spam does Windows Store have?
Using the search function on Windows Store can be a challenge. Nearly any search for a popular app such as iTunes, VLC, Firefox, Candy Crush Saga or Adobe Flash tends to turn up dozens of similar results, all with the same branding and design as the original. Most of these results tend to be for useless programs.
What do these apps do?
The publishers of the spammy apps on Windows Store drum up business by copying the names and logos of the popular products. The fact that they aren't the real thing only becomes apparent to users when they take the trouble drill down deep into their product pages or when they pay to install them. While the main intent of the publishers of these apps is to make a quick buck by getting credulous customers to pay for them, they sometimes install malware on the computers of their customers, too.
The spam even gets into Windows Search
In Windows 8, Windows Search doesn't simply show you results from your computer or your network - it integrates results from Windows Store, too. For instance, if you have Chrome on your computer and use Search to locate it, you will usually get both results both for the Chrome installation already on your computer and for spammy lookalike apps from the store, all in the same list. If you aren't alert, you can easily click on a store result, and find yourself installing it. In other words, on Windows now, you need to constantly remain alert.
Why does Microsoft allow this situation?
Windows has been trailing Apple and Google in the app game. Anxious to be able to claim that it has hundreds of thousands of apps, Microsoft recently began to pay developers to design apps for Windows Phone Store and Windows Store. Any developer could develop a spammy app in a few minutes, submit it to Windows Store, and claim a $100 reward. With this reward system paying for spam, Windows Store quickly got up to 400,000 apps by early 2014. Every fake iTunes, VLC and Chrome app on Windows Store has passed Microsoft's certification, too. Microsoft simply hasn't cared to vet apps for quality prior to certifying them
While consumer complaints have forced Microsoft to clean up Windows Store somewhat, it remains infested with spam. The best way for a consumer to protect himself now would be to carefully read the reviews on each app before installing.