Thursday, 24 March 2016

Windows 10 System Apps Review: Store

Note: This page is a review which forms part of the post Windows 10 System Apps Review

What’s this app for?

The Store is a one-stop shop for purchasing music, videos, games and apps for your Windows 10 devices. It’s also the hub where updates for apps, especially all windows system apps, are controlled and downloaded from.

Does it do the job it was primarily designed for?

Yes, although it’s far from perfect. The biggest issue with the store is the one that everyone knows about but has only slightly improved in the last year; the lack of apps. There’s certainly plenty of everything in the store, but the absence of big names which are everywhere on other platforms (think Google for starters) are just not there in the store. On top of that, what there is seems to be of a largely inferior quality or just never get updated and instead remain with the Windows 8 app look that’s straight out of 1990s in Windows 10. All these issues are well known, with Microsoft looking to inspire developers in an effort to move things along quicker. But what about the store app itself and how it performs?

Well, the store certainly looks busy and, much like every universal app, it’s a little clunky and blocky in its design but functions perfectly adequately for what one needs it to do.

Along the top, and available wherever you are in the app, are the main headings of ‘Home, Apps, Games, Music & Film & TV’ as well as buttons to drop-down the app’s main menu and search box facility. Every one of the genre sections opens up to reveal the same layout of new, top-selling and featured content. When viewing any specific content the usual options are there to share it (a link to it, not the actual content), buy/install, screenshots of the app/music etc, customer reviews and additional information about the content (for games/apps) such as age ratings etc. If viewing music or TV/film content in the app you can view a trailer for video content or listen to clips of the specific music tracks.

The app’s main drop-down menu gives you 'My Library' where you can view your library of apps that you’ve installed (not music/films as that’s solely in their respective universal apps), view downloads/updates, view settings, redeem a code (from a gift voucher etc), View Account, Payment options and Purchased. The latter four options all will launch your default web browser to perform the Microsoft account functions, so there’s little full integration in the app when it comes to your Microsoft account. Settings wise you can have apps not update automatically (default is auto and one I turn off), have the store’s live tile basically advertise various products in the store for you, or set things so that you don’t need to enter your password to purchase content, which just feels like a really bad idea.

The experience of downloading apps is pretty acceptable. Even downloading music I’ve found to just work. Still not done any video content yet but there’s been very few problems with actually getting what you want from the store ... in my own experience.

On the downside for this app, there’s still an ongoing issue with changelogs (or “What’s New?”) information not being updated along with every release of a Windows System App. Other 3rd party app manufacturers seem to do a much better job at this than Microsoft, although the Windows Team has improved considerably in the last 6 months with this. It’s also not a problem of the app as such anyways.

What is an app issue is that, despite improvements, the search facility is still a little hit and miss when it comes to finding items you know exist, or those you’re curious to know if they exist.

Then there’s the annoying fact that in “My Library” you can’t delete apps that you’ve long ago uninstalled. Thus the list in your library just grows and grows with apps you’ve not the slightest bit of interest in anymore.

What’s the alternative?

If you are using Windows 10 there isn’t an alternative to getting universal apps on your computer. Plus, both the Films & TV app plus Groove integrate with the store to view and purchase items. Even the web based Windows Store (i.e. for the UK one) will redirect you to the store app when it comes to purchasing, but at least it’s an alternative for navigating about the store.

Hit, Miss, or Maybe?

Hit; it’s far from perfect when you compare it to its rivals on other operating systems like Google Play Store, but as a mechanism for purchasing items and getting them updated, it does the trick. As it’s such a critical app for any Windows 10 user, one can’t really do without it. So given it serves its purpose it’s got to get a thumbs up but maybe with a caveat that “It could be much better”.

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