If you’ve ever had trouble navigating the Microsoft Store because there are so many relevant results returned when you perform a search for an app, you’ll be happy to know that Microsoft has just launched Microsoft Store Ads, a way for developers to pay to have their apps displayed when you visit the store in search of something else.
Those apps will also show up in the Apps and Gaming tabs in the app, according to Microsoft’s landing page for the feature. Whether or not users see the ads and whether or not they download and launch the apps after seeing the ads will all be measurable metrics for developers.
In addition, Microsoft updated us on the status of the Microsoft Store, calling 2022 a “record year” with over 900 million unique users around the world and “a 122% year-over-year increase in developer submissions of new apps and games.” Over the past year or so, Microsoft has gradually eased restrictions on Store apps, welcoming traditional Win32 apps while also relying Now’s Android app store and the Windows Subsystem for Android to increase its selection. Microsoft Store Ads were first introduced as part of a “pilot programme” in September 2022, and little has changed visually since then. Developers who have already submitted their apps to the Microsoft Store will be the only ones to receive advertising revenue from users on Windows 10 and Windows 11.
These advertisements are typically portrayed in a positive light, as a harmless means by which Microsoft Store app creators can gain exposure and potential customers. Ads for Twitter or Truth Social on a search for Mastodon clients are an example of how irrelevant and annoying similar ads can be on Apple’s platforms, while ads for shovelware free-to-play games and even gambling ads can be actively malicious.
It’s unclear whether or not the new feature will improve search results for users, but it will certainly bring more advertisements to a system that is already overrun with them. Windows 11 installed from a USB stick will automatically download a number of third-party apps from the Microsoft Store upon first connecting to the Internet, and the operating system will also feature numerous in-house advertisements for Edge, Bing, Microsoft Start, Microsoft 365, and OneDrive.
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