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Windows 8 Doesn’t Want Your App. Try Again Later (themissingbit.blogspot.be)
173 points by sutro on Oct 26, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 70 comments



What's so odd about all this is that lack of transparency why things fail was (is?) a huge issue in the Apple App Store process, and MS has had years to learn about what went wrong with the Apple process, and design around those issues. They seem to have baked those faults in to their own process.

"We're backed up with submissions".

WTF? They've been doing roadshows and having dev evangelists push the heck out of "develop apps for the app store!" messaging. That's fine. Staff up appropriately. For a company who understands this is a pivot, they need momentum, good press, etc., plus have had years watching Apple's mistakes in this area - there's just no excuse for not staffing (or ramping up quickly) on the app store processing.


>MS has had years to learn about what went wrong with the Apple process, and design around those issues.

All that time spent learning about what and why Apple does what they do might have brought them to the conclusion that they ought to be doing the same thing.

Or maybe they're "backed up" while they take it all in, figure out what's crap and what's not crap, create a good initial sorting of non-crap -> crap, and then open the flood gates a little more.

You have to imagine that they've just suddenly become inundated by thousands (10s of thousands? More?) submissions and the majority of them will be awful crapware that needs to be sifted through. It takes a lot of time I'm sure -- I don't care how many people you put on staff.


"All that time spent learning about what and why Apple does what they do might have brought them to the conclusion that they ought to be doing the same thing."

I fear that conclusion.

But, really... concluding that courting developers pissed off with an arbitrary opaque process by giving them the same arbitrary opaque process makes sense to ... who?

"You have to imagine that they've just suddenly become inundated by thousands (10s of thousands? More?) submissions and the majority of them will be awful crapware that needs to be sifted through. "

But... they've had more than a year to prepare for it, they need people to want to write for this platform (ios/android still have a the lion's mindshare), and MS is one of the few companies that could afford (financially) to make this experience better than it has. Stop the dividend payouts for a few quarters and use that money to beef up what they seem to be saying is the new direction of the company.


I'm just speculating like everyone else. It's difficult to extrapolate from a single person's nightmarish experience what the experience will be like for an unknown but large number of developers. I hope that gets sorted out quickly. From some other comments it sounds like they still have some bugs in their process.

Unless Microsoft is purposely being opaque with details of why something has failed for the purpose of thwarting malicious or wayward developers, then they should take this as a hint that they need to provide developers with more information so they can track down issues and fix them.


Not to mention, this guy released to the app store early.


Did you ever try to submit to the Apple app store? All the stories I see about rejections come from sometimes strange reasonings but it's actually always transparent why they rejected an App. I had the same experience with my one app, there was one objection because of some new in-app purchase policy but it was well described in the rejection report and I knew exactly what to do. It seems like the MS store fails at an even earlier reason: Not telling you what actually went wrong.


I can relate a bit about this article and the Windows Store submission process - I have been using it since the end of July. The requirements mentioned in the post (1.2, 3.2, 3.8, etc.) are part of a big document that tries to clearly outline what an app should and shouldn't do. They are defined rather well, but sometimes will leave you wandering what the hell is going on.

I submitted an HTML app that was accepted, then after some minor changes failed validation the second time I submitted it. The problem was "Requirement 3.2: The app crashes", however, nothing I changed could cause a crash. I resubmitted the app with a bumped version and no other changes and it passed validation the second time.

This led me to believe that MS are either still fixing bugs in the certification process or that my app ended up on a faulty test device that crashed. Still, I would LOVE IT if MS provided actual stack trace or other useful information if a crash occurs.

The biggest problem with the Store right now is the time it takes to pass a new release. In the last couple of days the Microsoft built-in applications (video, finance, sports) have been updated multiple times, but my last submission took 5 days to pass the Content Compliance step. If Microsoft wants more apps in the Store, they need to scale up their review/certification infrastructure and team.


At the very least, the debug console output as a text file would be helpful, no?


BTW they give you reports, but only if the crash was in an already approved app that is in the Store[1]. My point was that such information should be available during the certification process as well.

[1] http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsstore/archive/2012/06/27/impr...


Probably their testing tool crashed with your applications :-)


"Requirement 3.2: The app crashes"

Really? They've listed a 'requirement' as 'app crashes'?


No. "The app crashes" is the reason that it has failed on Requirement 3.2.

A bit of googling gives this which contains the full text of Requirement 3.2:-

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/Hh92158...


Also note that one of the common reasons for failing Requirement 3.2 now includes a reference to using CurrentAppSimulator that wasn't in the one linked in the original article.

I guess the OP just got stung by being an early adopter and the FAQ/requirement pages not being anywhere near complete as not enough people had gone through the certification process for MSFT to find all of the common reasons for rejection.


FYI, the first requirement for the Apple App Store is the same:

2.1 Apps that crash will be rejected


The way it was written was as a requirement:

"Requirement 3.2: the app crashes"

3.2 as a reason something is rejected ("app crashes") makes more sense. I wasn't sure if they're written it that casually, as it was quoted as such.


Yes, presumably that was in a section of reasons for rejection. It would be rather silly to assume there was a requirement that apps crash.


I believe it makes sense, in the context of Windows. They want users to feel as if they're in a comfortable and familiar environment.


Look, if Apple can't manage to do a curated app store in a way that "works" for developers, if Microsoft can't manage to do it... maybe a curated app store isn't a good idea. I mean, it's obviously a good idea for whoever curates the app store (they can leverage their power in all kinds of ways), but perhaps the problems for developers is not because these companies are doing it poorly, but just that injecting a review process by a third party between the developer and their customers is NATURALLY bad for developers.


Agreed. Release early and often is well known and accepted in software engineering... yet some stores do their best to make that impossible.


I don't want to have to go through anybody to be able to get my app to my customers.

This tendency towards closed-off app stores is really depressing.


As a phone user though, I WANT you to be vetted, because I don't want your "stock quote app" to suddenly brick my phone unless I send you $59.99 to get the "fix".

I don't trust you. I trust apple. Deal with it.


You don't download software off the net unless it's vetted first by Apple? Have you never installed Chrome, Office or Photoshop?

Maybe you haven't considered the alternative. It's something that Apple users don't really get much of, but there's a thing called choice.

Why can't we have an app store AND allow side-loading? That'd be a nice choice. That way, the people who want to trade freedom for security can do so and the people who want freedom can have it. A third option would be to allow competing app stores (as well as side-loading).

You're on the wrong side in the war on general purpose computing. If you want to see general purpose computing go away, by all means...keep trading your freedoms in.


Just about the only proven method to really mitigate the malware problem is with whitelisting. In the future, virtually all end-user computing platforms will be mandatorily whitelisted. The company I just left was in the process of requiring whitelisting (through Bit9) for ALL Windows AND Linux desktops. Which is a pain in the ass if you're a dev, but when it comes down to that or watching all your IP go across the sea, guess which option upper management is going to choose?

Apple has brought the benefits of whitelisting to the masses with its App Store certification process. The result is an extremely popular, superior smartphone platform with virtually no malware. Android? Malware city. Platform vendors in the future are going to handle app distribution the Apple way or they'll be out of the game entirely.


Whitelisting is a wholly different concept than being locked into a single vendor's app store.

Being forced to abide by a single whitelist provider would be similar, but I personally won't be buying into those platforms and if I don't have a choice, I'll be jailbreaking...barring that, well we simply wouldn't be living in a free society at that point so I think I'd have bigger issues to deal with than computing freedom.


> Have you never installed Chrome, Office or Photoshop?

You are either completely ignorant of smartphone technology or deliberately missing the point.

I just searched for weather on my iPhone. There are 4055 weather related apps to chose from. It isn't a problem. What's more, is that I know that all 4055 of those apps will in no way prevent me from using my phone 10 minutes after I install them.

> Why can't we have an app store AND allow side-loading?

Why can't we tackle people during a soccer game? Same shit.

I've chosen to play by Apple's rules as many others have. I could also have chosen to play by Google's rules. When I play soccer or hockey, I choose to play by those rules as well. It makes for an overall more enjoyable experience.

Just because I play a weekly soccer game and prefer you not to intrude with your revised soccer-rugby rules does not mean I will limit myself to never playing baseball, or that I don't appreciate your variation. It means that I'm perfectly content playing soccer.

I'm perfectly content with my app-store only iPhone, thank you very much. You as a developer - if you want to play this on this field - need to abide by the rules the rest of use are already playing by. Otherwise, go find your own piece of grass and play whatever game you want there.

When Apple starts forcing everyone to play soccer, come talk to me. If you want to play in the soccer tourney though, I expect you to play the right game.

>You're on the wrong side in the war

You know who says shit like this? Zealots. Unthinking, self righteous, dangerous zealots. Like the Taliban. Or the Tea Party.

My phone is a fucking phone! It's not a damn religious crusade. There is no war to fight. There is no freedom to lose. I'm not trading liberty for security when I play soccer anymore than I'm doing so by making a fucking phone call.


You obviously don't understand smartphone tech because it's just a computer.

> Why can't we tackle people during a soccer game? Same shit.

Not really. There are no rules against complaining about Apple's rules. Customer complaints change rules. Apathetic people such as yourself, who just roll over and take it, are part of the problem.

> My phone is a fucking phone! It's not a damn religious crusade.

Then why did you respond to my original comment, as if I had offended you in some way?

I said "I don't want to have to go through anybody to be able to get my app to my customers. This tendency towards closed-off app stores is really depressing."

How exactly did my comment affect you? It sounds to me like you're on a crusade to get me to think just like you. I simply stated an opinion in response to someone else who shared my opinion. You, on the other hand, started off sounding like you were on a crusade.


Customer complaints change rules.

You are a developer, not a customer.

Apathetic people such as yourself, who just roll over and take it, are part of the problem.

There is no problem from a consumer point of view. You seem to be failing to understand this. I have little to no need for your no-name unregistered app. Why should the entire ecosystem change to benefit you?

Then why did you respond to my original comment

I didn't respond in this way to your original comment, I responded in this way to you suggesting that I "keep trading your freedoms in." Please, spare me.

It sounds to me like you're on a crusade to get me to think just like you.

I don't care what you do, to be honest, and I don't think you understand one thing I'm trying to say to you. You're the one who wants to play in Apple/Google's sandbox and is bitching about the rules of the sandbox. By all means, create a new sandbox.

Again, all I said was that if you want to play soccer, play by the already established rules. Don't sign your team up for the tourney and then proceed to tell us all how much better the game would be if we could use our hands. STFU and get on the pitch, or go find an empty field to play whatever game you want to invent.

The apple/google closed markets are designed 100% to be the benefit of the consumer, because the consumers are paying $500+ for the phone. Consumers want things to be easy and work well. Consumers are not really interested in you having 6 different methods of delivering your app to our phone so that your life is easier. That's your issue, not the consumer's.


You lost me when you compared him to the Taliban.


> ...play by the already established rules.

That's weak sauce. If nobody ever complained about anything and just played by the rules, nothing would ever change.

> The apple...closed markets are designed 100% to be the benefit of the consumer...

Oh please dude, gimme a break. Hogwash. Everybody knows that captive markets are lucrative and that Apple's 30% cut makes them a pretty profit. Google's market may be closed, but their mobile platform is about as open as can be. Android itself doesn't stop anybody from side-loading or using a competing store.

Everybody knows how Apple likes to do things. There's no denying it. They want absolute control over their platform because it's good for them.


I didn't have quite as bad an experience submitting my app (http://codecube.net/2012/09/introducing-viewer-for-khan-acad...) to the w8 store. But it did fail the first time and I was quite annoyed at the reason. It failed for requirement 4.1.1:

"If your app has the technical ability to transmit any user's personal information, you must maintain a privacy policy. You must provide access to your privacy policy in the Description page of your app, as well as in the app’s settings as displayed in the Windows Settings charm."

Now, my app is open source, and doesn't collect any user information whatsoever. And not only that, but the app's meta data during submission has an optional field for a privacy policy URL.

So I just ginned up a quick privacy policy that says we don't capture any personal info (http://codecube.net/khanacademy/privacy/), added it to the settings charm, and resubmitted. It passed.

But it was annoying.


Exact same problem I had. I am waiting for approval right now. If they are going to require a privacy policy, why not include it by default when you start a project? And, why do you have to go through another 7 day waiting period when you submit the app again. Shouldn't re-submissions be fast tracked?


> If they are going to require a privacy policy, why not include it by default when you start a project?

They might include a blank one, but I imagine they tried to aviod including a boiler-plate policy, otherwise you'd probably find 95% of app submissions would just use the template.


Exact same problem here too. We submitted a game which transmits no information whatsoever, so we didn't feel the need to provide a pivacy policy. Yet they made us submit again to fix just that. I think it's safe to assume that every app should provide a privacy policy by default, just in case.


I'm fairly sure any app that declares the Internet capability will be flagged as requiring a privacy policy.


As much as I agree it maybe annoying for any app that doesn't intent on capturing/transmitting personal information to have a privacy policy, I think it is a great requirement. The problem with not having one is that it could be misused in the future updates. Make it a habit to include both a License and a Privacy Policy when you start writing a new app. Just like most open-source softwares include a licence, I wish all applications had a privacy policy attached to them.


I haven't submitted a Windows 8 app yet (soon) but I've had apps rejected by Apple and Nook. I have to say that Apple's rejections so far have been very clear on what needs to change. Nook has been 50-50. One rejection was clear, but another just gave me a useless numeric code. To defend Microsoft a little bit, at least you have developer evangelists available to help escalate things, even if that isn't working in this case.


Apple also has evangelists who will help escalate/interpret things.


Most of the rejections were due to problems with your app.

We have found the Microsoft team and review process to be excellent - far better than anything we have experienced before.

They go beyond the call of duty to help developers get their app onto the store and even give some great feedback on how the app could be even better.

I guess it depends on who you deal with, but our personal experience in releasing our edutainment app called Magic Math ( http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-us/app/magic-math/ba5eb1... ) was fantastic.


> Most of the rejections were due to problems with your app

Agree, and the article seems to acknowledge this. Seems that the feedback wasn't detailed enough, though.

I'd be interested to know if you found the feedback to be better, and theories about the causes of the disparity if that is the case?


Our app was approved first time, but we had a few 'pre-reviews' where they gave us early feedback so that when it came to the actual review, it went through smoothly, took less than 5 days to get approved.


> Most of the rejections were due to problems with your app.

Congratulation on completely and utterly missing TFA's point.


There are 2 big problems with the Windows Store submission right now:

- it takes a LOT of time to get a answer. From my experience it took 2 weeks (working days) until i got a answer back.

- they don't list at first submission ALL of the reasons for which the app "fails". This leads to the following cycle : submit app, wait 2 weeks to get rejected for lame reasons, fix issue in couple hours, submit again, wait 2 weeks etc

Hopefully things will improve in the near future but right now trying to get a app into Windows Store is a pretty long and annoying process.


It took a click on the self-named application link in the beginning of the (very long) article, and some reading, before the name finally clicked. Memorylage is a portmanteau of "memory" and "collage", since the application shows a collage of your digital images.

Or, hm, since "memory" is actually fully in there, perhaps that disqualifies it as a portmanteau ... then it might be a blend, instead (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blend).


As a developer (albeit not of Appstore Apps) I can understand the frustration of being told "It crashes" without being told why.

However, there was a very interesting comment on the actual blog itself suggesting something along the line of "re-submit the app under a different name". I actually think that may not be that bad of an idea. If you have done as much verification as possible as to the stability and performance of your product, sometimes you have to do some sideways thinking to get it approved by the powers that be.

I would like to see (just as an experiment) what would happen if the original developer would try this, and see what happens. The worst thing that could happen is that he could get told no (again).


I've submitted multiple apps to the Windows Store.

They're not desperate and they don't want crap, which is why they have a high bar. The problem is the testing procedures aren't always consistent, so something may pass once and get rejected when you do your next update for a bug that existed in a previous version. But, that's the nature of testing - the same thing has happened for us on Apple's app store.

Android appears to be the only store that lets you ship anything you want.


> The problem is the testing procedures aren't always consistent, so something may pass once and get rejected when you do your next update for a bug that existed in a previous version.

That's not even relevant to TFA's point, which is that the review output is so terse and opaque it's not actionable and essentially resulted in him having to bug dozens of people and fine-comb multiple time through the application to find out what the issues were.

There wasn't any complex issue, all of them were nigh-trivial (except the D3D one maybe) and TFAA gladly acknowledge this, the issue he outlines is that if the reports had actual information in them it'd have taken him a day to get everything fixed rather than 2 months.


They don't want crap? Have you seen some of the apps on the Windows Store?


touché


That's really strange. My friends and I from the University of Virginia published a couple apps (total 5 apps) and we each got through on our first round.

My app is a simple Truth Table application that reduces boolean algebra http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/en-US/app/truth-table/9e87b...

Our apps didn't required internet connection, so that might explain the success-rate. So I guess if you want your app in he store as soon as possible, build version 1.0 without internet features.


Ah the pains of deploying an app store. I can't even count how many articles I've read about the apple app store rejecting someone's app for some reason or another.

If you want a closed eco systems, these are the types of growing pains your going to have to go through.


This is not an isolated case. I heard two reports from Microsoft employees this morning of their own apps being repeatedly rejected for weeks with little transparency.


I have to admit I have had some problems with submitting to the Windows Phone 7 app store, however when the app failed certification the tester included step by step walkthroughs on how re-create the problem. I was generally able to recreate the problem. However, more than a few times I could not and just re-submitted, and it passed. :/


I downloaded the RTM through Dreamspark, because Dreamspark students get a free Windows Store account (I have some asp.net and WP7 apps I wanted to port over to Win 8). Turns out, you still have to submit a credit card even if you have a Dreamspark account, which instantly turned me off.


Tell me about this. I got 3 rejections, the last 2 about point 3.2 ("the app crashes"), after neither anyone in my team nor at our MS contact team was able to experience any problems. And the only feedback was a PDF showing a snapshot of the Windows desktop and some text that the JPEG compression had rendered unreadable. I thought it was a joke. Luckily a support person was nice enough to spend time reviewing the app and helped me discover the problem. Which was due to unclear and misleading expectations about the review process. Oh well...


I have an app in the Windows Store. The author of the post is complaining, but he should read the manual before submitting his app. Excluding CurrentAppSimulator is documented in docs a thousand times. Stop whining, fix your crashing app and don't submit it until its working. Why would they want your crashing buggy app on the day of launch?


tl;dr - submitting stuff to app stores can be a nightmare, regardless of who runs the app store.


I've heard you can get your app and its updates published on the Play Store almost immediately, or within a day.


Usually takes about an hour to be replicated out to the store when you upload an APK ... but no humans are involved in that process.


If the OP reads HN, send me an email to aaron AT markedup DOT com

I used to work on the evangelism team in the US for Microsoft (left in August to start my own company;) I can connect you with folks who can help you with the certification process.


The article notes that he already got plenty of connections throughout the process.


I don't think the Apple AppStore is much better. I recently submitted an app and got back a very generic message saying what was wrong with my app. No help at all in trying to figure out what the problem really is.


I agree that the store process is not great in providing feedback - however several of the problems mentioned could have been mitigated by good practice.


I really don't get why people continue to bang their heads against the wall that is Microsoft. We have plenty of better options, why them?


I think now, I will wait maybe 6 months before building anything for the Windows Store.


> Try Again Later

I'd say - dump MS. Try something that treats developers as humans.


Easy

Don't waste your time with MS (or Apple, or anyone for that matter)

They already cost more of your time than you can make back.

Typical MS thinking all you need is a shallow copy of something to be successful. Oh well, it worked for them a couple of times.


Perhaps the Windows 8 Store is a "shallow copy" of the Mac/iOS App Store.

But the Windows 8 experience as a whole certainly isn't.


Exactly what I meant.

The main problem with Windows 8 is not the innovation (or lack of), but the legacy elements and the awkwardness resulting from it.


Instead of these negative articles I'd like to see people write articles helping other have a better experience then they had. You're on the cutting edge of technology and the consequence is that you'll have problems. I've never personally submitted an app to an appstore but from what I've read Apple had similar problems when they first launched.


There was lots of useful advice in this article about getting through the approval process.




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