The Woes of Windows Store App Submissions

I recently submitted a Windows 10 / Windows Phone app to the Windows Store named Data Viewer for Dota 2. I’m here to warn the world just how awful the process of submission can be.

Microsoft first created the concept of the Windows Store with the release of Windows 8, Windows RT, and Metro Apps — I mean Windows Store Apps — I mean Universal Windows Apps. Whatever you want to call them, the store quickly became an unregulated messy disaster full of copycat and scam apps. Many, many apps were nothing more than front ends to scamming websites, copies of things like Facebook, or general do-nothing apps with a price tag and description which made it seem like a good purchase.

In order to address this problem, in normal Microsoft fashion, Microsoft decided to wait 3 years and come up with a new process of submitting the app. Every app would be held to “rigorous” standards which would guarantee all apps were clearly named and labeled to prevent confusion and scams. There are several guideline posts out there from Microsoft, and you can rest assured that all of them are vague and barely helpful.

So how did this affect my app? Originally, the app was named “Dota Database” after its sister site and had the same icon as appears on that site. The first submission resulted in this super helpful message: The app name and icon do not accurately represent the features.

Uh…OK? I’m not sure it could even get more vague than that. So as a guess, I figured maybe they were complaining about the word “Database” since the app isn’t literally a database but instead is a viewer into a database. I renamed the app to “Dota Data Viewer” and tried another submission. That was apparently a mistake because guess what message came back after failing? The app name and icon do not accurately represent the features.

At this point, I tried emailing the support address suggested by the submission report. I decided to get to the point and ask for more information about why the app was failing submission and asked about what specifically I should change. The response was kind of helpful: Hello Developer, you will need to make your app distinguished from other apps in the store with a unique name such as “Skype for Windows” or “User Guide for Microsoft Word.”

Then I changed the app name to “Data Viewer for Dota 2” which is specific and distinguished from any other apps. In addition, I changed the app icon to the one you now see in the Windows Store which clearly states the app is a data viewer and not an actual game. Surely success will come after this! Wrong. The app was rejected with the exact same copy and paste message: The app name and icon do not accurately represent the features.

Now I’m upset. I email the support desk again and receive the exact same response: Hello Developer, you will need to make your app distinguished from other apps in the store with a unique name such as “Skype for Windows” or “User Guide for Microsoft Word.” Hey Microsoft, that isn’t helpful!… Read more

How to Rename Your App in Windows Store

This applies to the Windows Store and Windows Dev Center as of March 1, 2016 and assumes you are uploading a Windows 10 Universal Platform App.

The Windows Dev Center started out badly back in Windows 8, and it hasn’t improved too much since then. I have to be honest when I describe it, because it’s sometimes nothing short of painful. One of those pain points is the UI and poor documentation regarding the concept of the “App Name”.

In order to submit to the store, you need to create “App Packages”. Each package has metadata associated with it that you define in your “App Manifest” (Package.appxmanifest in your project). This manifest is where the app’s name must match exactly with whatever names you have reserved in your Dev Center for that app.

Creating the App Name

When you create an app submission, you have to pick an “App Name”. This is the name that is displayed across your Dev Center Dashboard and the Windows Store. This name also has to match exactly in your app’s created manifest. That secret bit of information isn’t documented well and seems to only appear in tiny text when you are creating an app package through Visual Studio.

Changing the App Name

If your app has not yet been submitted to the store, then you can change the name by reserving a new one in the Dev Center, changing the manifest to that name, creating an app package, and then uploading that package. Don’t try to rename directly from the Dev Center (that’s where I kept looking). Instead, you have to reserve the name and change it in the manifest to match. There is no way to rename an app from the Dev Center!

If your app has already been submitted, you will need to reserve the new name, create a new update submission, change the manifest accordingly, create the package, and upload it to the new submission. If the submission is approved, the new name should show up in the store. I think there’s a delay in the new name showing up (16-24 hours).… Read more