Microsoft continuously warns developers about setting accurate age ratings on the apps published on the Windows store. If they aren’t in accordance with the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) system, the company has no choice but to unpublish them. The initial deadline was September 30, 2016, though consequences weren’t put into effect when the day came.
Microsoft explained last week (after the deadline expiration) that it will actually remove these non-compliant apps “on a rolling basis” and provide developers more time to comply with the policy by logging into the Dev Center and taking a brief questionnaire. Now that the process is in effect, a wave of developers have received emails about their non-compliant apps being unpublished from the Windows Store.
Microsoft is removing apps with outdated age ratings from the Windows Store with a note that says:
Microsoft unpublished your app for the failures listed below.
Notes To Developer
Your app was unpublished for policy 11.11, Age Ratings: The age rating questionnaire was not completed by the deadline of September 30, 2016.
For users who have already downloaded the now removed apps, they will continue to work unless uninstalled. In that case, you won’t be able to download it again from the Windows Store until its developer updates it with new age ratings in accordance with the IARC system. We don’t see any reason for them not to as the update process is as simple as filling a questionnaire regarding their app’s content which takes 5-10 minutes to complete.
The initiative of this new policy is obviously a positive step on Microsoft’s part to ensure the availability of age-appropriate content in the Windows Store. Still, there remains a large possibility several apps will disappear completely from the Windows Store for good after being abandoned by their developers for outdated age rating — even if the app sports a healthy consumer base.
It is possible most developers haven’t even read the emails regarding the removal of their apps yet, and so are not even be aware of the new non-compliant app removal policy. This could do serious damage to both customers and developers.
Moreover, there lies a large number of apps left that have not been updated in a very long time. According to Microsoft’s statistics, 669,000 of Microsoft’s apps haven’t been updated since September 2015, which doesn’t sound good for either developers or the Windows Store itself.