When Microsoft first launched the Windows Store, now known as Microsoft Store, it had big plans for it. It wanted to create a central repository for applications for Windows, that were limited in scope at first but more secure than traditional Win32 applications, gain control, and earn revenue through it as well.
UWP was the final attempt but it failed miserably even though Microsoft pushed the store through native integration in Windows 10 and releasing specific Windows 10 editions that did not support traditional programs.
The Store saw only a handful of conversions of popular Win32 programs. Most developers use the Desktop App Converter to create UWP versions of Win32 programs. Programs like VLC or Paint.net landed in Store but they offered no advantages over the traditional versions of these programs.
Microsoft revealed in mid-2019 that it had changed its strategy in regards to the Store. Instead of continuing to push UWP exclusively, the company now wanted to treat UWP and Win32 equally.
The company announced that it will shut down its ad monetization platform for Windows UWP applications on June 1, 2020. The announcement was published on the Windows and Windows phone apps Dev Center, on Twitter, and as a banner in the Partner Center.
As of June 1st 2020, the Microsoft Ad Monetization platform for Windows UWP apps will be shut down. This decision was made primarily because it is no longer viable for us to continue operating the product at the current levels.
Operating the platform is “no longer viable” according to Microsoft. According to the post, ad monetization will end on June 1, 2020 and developers will be paid just like before. Ad performance data can be downloaded until June 8, 2020.
Microsoft provides no ad network suggestions to UWP developers who monetize their apps with advertisement, and there don’t seem to be good alternatives at this point.
The consequences are clear: the shutting down has significant impact both on developers who already have apps in Store that use Microsoft’s ad monetization network and on future releases for the Store as it will impact the number of releases for the Store even further (there are not many to begin with but the number will drop even more unless Microsoft integrates a third-party ad network natively).
Developers have several options when it comes to monetization. The two most common models are to charge for applications or to use advertisement and make the apps free to gain enough audience to earn enough through advertisement. Some developers offer ad-free upgrades which combine the paid and advertisement driven models.
Communication has never been a strong suite at Microsoft and the termination of the monetization platform is no exception. The company did not make the announcement in a blog post or send out emails to developers, it simply posted the information on its site. Even worse, it provided no suggestions or alternatives that developers could use instead.
The move has several consequences including that some developers won’t port their apps or games to the Store, that development will slow down even further, and that apps or games may be removed by developers who fail to find a suitable alternative.
The decision erodes trust in the platform further and while Microsoft defends the Store vehemently, it is possible that the days of the Store are numbered as well.