Do not use Microsoft Store

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webfork
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Do not use Microsoft Store

#1 Post by webfork » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:06 pm

UPDATE: Almost 10 months after this was initially posted, all of the problematic links listed in this post are still active.

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So this is an ongoing problem: The Microsoft Store is riddled with knock-off commercial versions.

Linking note: The above Store links have been modified to avoid search engines picking them up and adding them to positive web results. To view, remove "JUNK" from the URL.

I've reported these and still seeing no movement from Microsoft almost a month later. Others have reported spending a long time on support calls only to come up nil. Some items above are discounted, others are free, but at least two of these started around $30. As such, I strongly recommend against use of Microsoft Store unless you have absolutely no alternative. Certainly do not buy software there.

Several of the programs hosted are also on Microsoft's Github site, so it's not as if they couldn't verify the status. Softpedia meanwhile resolved linking issues within 24 hours.

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#2 Post by Specular » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:12 pm

Thanks for the heads-up about these. Curious about MS hosting them on their Github as well. The non-sale price for the faux ScreenToGif is outrageous but obviously intended to look more attractive on sale.

Perhaps you could tip off gHacks or similar about the issue and lack of response. Perhaps it'd give MS a nudge :D

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#3 Post by webfork » Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:35 am

Specular wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:12 pm
Perhaps you could tip off gHacks or similar about the issue and lack of response. Perhaps it'd give MS a nudge :D
They have a financial incentive NOT to do anything so this is probably the only route to success.

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#4 Post by Special » Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:42 pm

How is this any different then any other store... you don't think there are knockoffs on firefox's AMO for add-ons, GooglePlay, Amazon, AppleStore, etc. and let us not forget the rest of the entire Internet? Use your brain and you'll be fine.

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#5 Post by Napiophelios » Sun Jun 16, 2019 3:15 pm

sounds like something the authors of the actual software has to resolve;
probably fair better to bring it to their attention.

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#6 Post by webfork » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:51 pm

Napiophelios wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 3:15 pm
sounds like something the authors of the actual software has to resolve;
probably fair better to bring it to their attention.
If you dig through the various github threads, it appears that was attempted without success.

https://github.com/NickeManarin/ScreenT ... -497995880
https://github.com/tannerhelland/PhotoD ... -497996075
https://github.com/MathewSachin/Captura/issues/414
Special wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:42 pm
How is this any different then any other store... you don't think there are knockoffs on firefox's AMO for add-ons, GooglePlay, Amazon, AppleStore, etc. and let us not forget the rest of the entire Internet? Use your brain and you'll be fine.
This site has definitely seen our fair share of fakes and knock-off programs, but I haven't seen a case of numberous, obvious, easy-to-detect fakes on a supposedly vetted platform. Microsoft in particular has a longstanding focus on copyright+licensed software and is purporting to support open source or something. Furthermore, this isn't a company that can throw up it's hands at solution that would require some technical know-how. Having basically run the Business Software Alliance for decades, it would be almost incidental for them to resolve this and to do so in an ongoing way.


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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#8 Post by Specular » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:32 am

Nice. Thanks, Martin for taking a look into it and the write-up.

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#9 Post by deathcubek » Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:04 am

The problem here is that, even though it is morally reprehensible to offer "payed" downloads of OpenSource software that can easily be obtained for free, doing so probably is perfectly legal :|

For example, the GPL explicitly allows everybody to redistribute the software and to (optionally) take a fee for that. Permission from the original author(s) is not needed.

Even changing the name and/or the logo of the application, albeit misleading, should be fine too. That is because everybody is allowed to modify the software and to redistribute that modified version.

So the question is: What would be the reasoning to remove the "copycat" software from the store? Maybe one could accuse them of not including the required copyright/license notice...
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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#10 Post by Napiophelios » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:25 pm

proper attribution is required by their license.
But no one wants to pay $30 to download it and check the files.

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#11 Post by webfork » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:37 am

deathcubek wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:04 am
The problem here is that, even though it is morally reprehensible to offer "payed" downloads of OpenSource software that can easily be obtained for free, doing so probably is perfectly legal :|

For example, the GPL explicitly allows everybody to redistribute the software and to (optionally) take a fee for that. Permission from the original author(s) is not needed.
Not entirely. The vast majority of software is protected by standard copyright and, although you can license your source code however you wish, copyright still applies to many of the program's compoents e.g. images, trademark name, etc. You cannot just copy-paste the entire program without resolving those. You can see a great example of how this was done some years ago with the Icecat project (https://www.gnu.org/software/gnuzilla/), which was intended as a more GNU-license friendly version of Firefox.

deathcubek wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:04 am
Even changing the name and/or the logo of the application, albeit misleading, should be fine too. That is because everybody is allowed to modify the software and to redistribute that modified version.
Yes, distributing the program (once copyrighted elements are modified), is quite legal, including for sale. However, after Microsoft's change of heart to support open source and their extraordinary investment in Github and other projects should mean they disallow entry by these programs to their store as a matter of policy, whatever the legality. This would again require very little effort to prevent distribution of simple copy-paste programs.

deathcubek wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:04 am
So the question is: What would be the reasoning to remove the "copycat" software from the store? Maybe one could accuse them of not including the required copyright/license notice...
Napiophelios wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:25 pm
proper attribution is required by their license.
But no one wants to pay $30 to download it and check the files.
Agreed. Burying some attribution notice somewhere in a readme or submenu might be technically is compliant, but it's so easy to just add it to the home page. Again, I'd like to see better policy here.

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#12 Post by deathcubek » Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:22 am

webfork wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:37 am
deathcubek wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:04 am
The problem here is that, even though it is morally reprehensible to offer "payed" downloads of OpenSource software that can easily be obtained for free, doing so probably is perfectly legal :|

For example, the GPL explicitly allows everybody to redistribute the software and to (optionally) take a fee for that. Permission from the original author(s) is not needed.
Not entirely. The vast majority of software is protected by standard copyright and, although you can license your source code however you wish, copyright still applies to many of the program's compoents e.g. images, trademark name, etc. You cannot just copy-paste the entire program without resolving those. You can see a great example of how this was done some years ago with the Icecat project (https://www.gnu.org/software/gnuzilla/), which was intended as a more GNU-license friendly version of Firefox.
Well, the copyright still belongs to the original authors. But, with the GPL or similar license, the copyright owner gives permission to everyone to freely redistribute and/or modify the software. And even to take a "fee" for redistribution.

There usually are some restrictions, such as the requirement to redistribute the software under the same conditions as the original, the requirement to publish the modified source codes, and the requirement to not remove the copyright/license information.

But, as long as those requirements are followed, the redistribution requires no further approval from the copyright owner.

And yes, trademarks may not be covered by the software license – to the good or to the bad. As you mention, Mozilla didn't allow to use their registered trademark "Firefox" for 'unofficial' builds if Firefox, so Debian's "Iceweasel" and GNU's "IceCat" were born.

After all, redistributing OpenSource software in the M$ Store with a different name and/or logo may be grossly misleading to the user, but legally it probably is the "right" thing to do :|
webfork wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:37 am
However, after Microsoft's change of heart to support open source and their extraordinary investment in Github and other projects should mean they disallow entry by these programs to their store as a matter of policy, whatever the legality. This would again require very little effort to prevent distribution of simple copy-paste programs.
Yeah, but what exactly would that policy be?

Clearly, we want OpenSource projects to be able to offer their software in the store. It's quite legitimate for OpenSource projects to say "if you want to support our work, then buy it from the store. Otherwise you can grab it for free at our GitHub site".

But then, what the "copycat" guys are doing is pretty much the same thing – from a policy point of view :|
„One of my most productive days was throwing away 1,000 lines of code“ – Ken Thompson

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#13 Post by webfork » Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:46 am

deathcubek wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:04 am
... even though it is morally reprehensible to offer "payed" downloads of OpenSource software that can easily be obtained for free, doing so probably is perfectly legal :|
Certainly some of the programs listed -- including those for sale -- are not violating the license. However, minor effort could bring others into compliance, as well as:
  • Improve the overall value of Github (a billion dollar acquisition)
  • Bring better quality to the Microsoft Store and the Win10 ecosystem
  • Further an already strong history of touting intellectual property and licenses, in addition to their years-long open source embrace

deathcubek wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:22 am
Yeah, but what exactly would that policy be?
Some suggested policies:
  • Program duplicates as determined by a simple image search for many of these, but a unique program component set is easy to research:
    • At every opportunity, promote primary authorship to allow copyright holders to host software on the store and optionally charge money.
    • Should have a clear reason or difference that make re-listing the program worthwhile. This is in Microsoft's best interest since adding numerous, duplicate programs to the Store lowers the site's overall quality. Programs that cost money are also less valuable than a free version of the same program by the actual author.
    • Near-duplicate programs should have at least some programmatic difference. Again, this is not required by the license but is in Microsoft's best interests. Program forks, though rare, would be managed by this as they gradually develop an increasingly separate code base.
  • Licensing
    • Entries should follow the license terms of software within the program, e.g. attribution, inclusion of copyright notice, source code hosting, etc. Furthermore, Do more than just just burying some license item deep wthin a config file or submenu. It should be on the front page.
    • Programs that include copyrighted images or trademarks need a license or permission from the author to allow usage.
Many of these functions are easily automated and others could be handled by small team with basic computer skills.

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#14 Post by webfork » Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:03 pm

PhotoDemon's author responded to some of the license notes echoed in this thread:
Because I'm seeing this issue linked elsewhere, I want to clarify something: most open-source licenses (including this project's BSD license, MIT, GPL/LGPL, etc) do not prohibit 3rd-parties from reselling open-source software. That may be an ethical issue, but it's not a legal one, and it's not something most open-source licenses attempt to prevent. If you think you can resell free software for a price, more power to you.

The issue is that these Microsoft Store clones are removing all copyright and license information from the open-source projects they've copied. In PhotoDemon's case, the clone stripped not only PhotoDemon's BSD license, it's also stripped all 3rd-party licenses shipped with the project. These licenses are additionally linked from PhotoDemon's Help menu, but the clone removed that menu (presumably in an attempt to hide the program's true source).
Source: https://github.com/tannerhelland/PhotoD ... -506782094

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Related: From 2014: The Windows Store is a Cesspool of Scams — Why Doesn’t Microsoft Care?

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Re: Do not use Microsoft Store

#15 Post by Midas » Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:59 am

Incidentally, the issue is not exclusive to MS Store, as the following article attests. :arrow:

Fake and copycat apps abound on the Google Play Store

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