TLDR; We are removing Stampuno Loyalty Cards App from Microsoft Store on the 16th of November 2018.
We love Microsoft (no buts)
First, I am the founder of Stampuno and I love Microsoft! And all the people working at Stampuno love Microsoft (or they have to, it is a dictatorship!). We are a Microsoft house and we truly believe their solutions are an end-to-end DevOp-oriented solution. We are even a member of Microsoft BizSpark programme.
I personally used to use Windows Mobile 5, 6, 6.5 then Windows Phone 7 and 8 then 10. I loved the clean UI and the UX. What a shame that Microsoft abandoned the platform in such a way.
As a software craftsman, I followed Microsoft from my hobby days at school on QBasic, then professionally to Visual Basic 6 then .NET Classical then today .NET Core, I even have Microsoft’s tattoo on my arm (I’m joking, but I thought about it, however, tattoos are not my thing).
Stampuno Loyalty Cards Apps on Microsoft App Store
Given the amount of time and resources it takes to truly support every mobile platform, today’s start-ups mostly focus on Android and iOS. Maybe if they grow up and became successful, they might consider Windows Phone (that is even before when Microsoft abandoned it).
We decided to support Windows Phone and Desktop (in more technical terms, this is known as Windows Universal Platform or UWP) from day one and give it the same amount of resources that we are giving to our other platforms, after all, we want to provide quality everywhere regardless of the platform.
Release Day Problem: World Politics affected our launch!
Well, we had the world flags so you search for your favourite card under the country that you desire. By the look of it, we made a major mistake in having the Taiwanese and the Chinese flags. We can’t launch Stampuno in China if we have the Taiwanese flag, due to political issues between China and Taiwan.
We were, understandably, blocked from releasing by Microsoft Store reviewers so we decided to react quickly and remove China and Taiwan from our store targets and remove the Chinese flag as well from the app to avoid further issues, we kept the Taiwanese flag as Taiwan had no issue and this would help our users to have Taiwanese loyalty cards if they are travelling between Taiwan and the rest of the world.
We’ve learned a lesson in politics, none of us have encountered this before.
Subsequent Releases: We were randomly rejected for the same reason?!
As any modern startup we do a release or more per month adding new features and fixing bugs. Every release was going smoothly on Android, not so smoothly with iOS policies and not smooth at all with Microsoft Store.
Microsoft Store had randomly rejected our app update submission for the Chinese-Taiwanese problem we had in the first release, even though we did not have China in our Microsoft Store and we did not have the Chinese flag. We explained this to the reviewers and suddenly after a week our app is live! Fine, this happens, a bug in the system or a mistake by the reviewers, we are humans and we do mistakes.
Happened again, but we haven’t done anything! Then we had to explain, again, and go through hoops that affected the release on other platforms as we wanted to upgrade our backend and we wanted to have our apps updated on all supported platforms.
The reviewer answers were showing clearly that they were skimming our messages rather than reading them properly and on some occasions, we didn’t even get a reply, not even a templated one.
In the end, even though politically and technically we didn’t have to, we dropped the Taiwanese flag, unnecessarily, to avoid having this meaningless and time-wasting exchange between us and the reviewers and hoping that this might end the problem.
Delays releasing the app
After 8 months only of releasing Stampuno and as of November 2018, I can tell you that Google Play Store takes 1 hour to release app updates, Apple iTunes Store takes between 20 to 40 hours and Microsoft Store takes an undefined time!
So, it might be 1 day, it might be 3 days or 4 days and when it is released, you get no notification, you just have to continuously check the store to see if Microsoft Store blessed you and released the app.
Problems with users updating the app
We were having problems pushing updates to our Windows users who are already using the app. They have to uninstall the app and install the new update, which isn’t ideal in today’s tech.
We investigated this problem to no avail thinking that we have done something wrong, but we didn’t land on anything. Suddenly, we’ve got this email from Microsoft after months of abandoning the issue:
“Hello Stampuno Limited
Recently we found that an app you submitted was incorrectly signed due to a system problem. As a result, customers could not install the app. We corrected the system problem and resubmitted a correctly signed version of your app that customers can now install. Note that we incremented the revision field of the version number when we re-published the submission.
Stampuno - Loyalty Cards App
We apologize for the inconvenience we caused and thank you for your contributions to the Microsoft Store.
Thank you, Microsoft Store Team”
And guess what? The problem that we had magically disappeared.
Stampuno as a Featured App?
We spent good energy in compliance to how a UWP application should look like from the UX, UI, icons to the store listing.
We appear number one in search for the popular keywords related to our domain on the store. We have polished our store to make it appeal to the users and we trust that our app was the highest quality in its domain (we had proper competitor-analysis).
We trust with all our efforts that we should have been considered for featuring (not necessarily featured, just a consideration) on Microsoft Store, as we trust we were providing a premium app for free on the Microsoft Store. But nothing, no one, nowhere, you can’t contact anybody and don’t even bother, the store looks dead.
Downloads on Microsoft Store
We were getting an average of two downloads per day, we were thinking does it worth if we improve our store presentation and marketing and try to get more or seek ways of improving our downloads or abandon Microsoft Store and the Universal Windows Platform?
Technical Support for Windows Phone
Developing for Windows Phone requires support from other providers, Xamarin, a subsidiary of Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows Phone in v3 of Xamarin Forms! So, even Microsoft abandoned the support for its own product.
Readily available 3rd party marketing tools have no consideration for Microsoft Store, so who are we to say that we want to support this platform? It feels like, a scene from a horror movie where we are holding a spirit from passing to the 2nd world.
Treating Windows development like Internet Explorer 6 development
Like any pro who worked on web software development, you know that supporting IE6 was a pain. The amount of time I spent with developers to revive their anti-IE6 spirit is uncountable, telling my team to “Just make it functional in IE6, it doesn’t need to be pixel-perfect” is ingrained in my memory.
Oops, I did it again, with Windows Phone! Given the frustration of the store releases and other problems, I was losing faith in the platform and the store and I applied the same IE6 rules to the platform, if it looks acceptable and functioning in an acceptable way, then that is fine, let’s focus on Android and iOS. After all, who is using Windows Phone today is not really a technology enthusiast (I said the same sentence for IE6 before).
We decided to drop our Microsoft Store listing!
Given the above, sadly, we decided to drop our support for the Windows Phone and Desktop, one could say, you can leave the app and stop updating it and let it collect dust, but as our infrastructure is continuously evolving and we are adding features to our app on all platforms, we will have to update the Microsoft Store listing if we keep the app.
The good news is that if you are using Stampuno on Windows then you can simply login from any Android or iOS and you will get your backed-up cards and continue using them on the other platforms.
Abandoning Microsoft Store is not a decision we took lightly, we would have loved it if Microsoft has continued supporting it. However, at this stage we feel that we are the Last Samurai.
Let us know if you share our frustration and if you would have done the same in your comments below.