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Microsoft Software Windows Your Rights Online

Microsoft Can Remotely Kill Purchased Apps 389

Posted by samzenpus
from the killing-distance dept.
Meshach writes "The terms of service for Microsoft's newly launched Windows Store allows the seller to remotely kill or remove access to a user's apps for security or legal reasons. The story also notes that MS states purchasers are responsible for backing up the data that you store in apps that you acquire via the Windows Store, including content you upload using those apps. If the Windows Store, an app, or any content is changed or discontinued, your data could be deleted or you may not be able to retrieve data you have stored."
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Microsoft Can Remotely Kill Purchased Apps

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  • doubt it (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2011 @10:56PM (#38311212)

    I doubt the three people who own one of these devices reads slashdot.

    • Re:doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by forkfail (228161) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:27PM (#38311450)

      The app store isn't just for Windows Mobile. It's for all of Windows 8. Which means that the summary missed the big ramification: as of Windows 8, you will absolutely no longer exclusively have root for your hardware.

      And I'm guessing that the majority of folks here have at least one windows box.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2011 @12:02AM (#38311652)

        And I'm guessing that the majority of folks here have at least one windows box.

        I have several. The flowers love the sun and the heat from the house keeps them from perishing on those freak cold spring nights.

      • Re:doubt it (Score:5, Funny)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday December 09, 2011 @12:07AM (#38311674)

        And I'm guessing that the majority of folks here have at least one windows box.

        but the blackhats have a lot more than one.

        oh, you didn't mean that, did you?

      • Re:doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nomel (244635) <.turd. .at. .inorbit.com.> on Friday December 09, 2011 @12:09AM (#38311684) Homepage Journal

        Nobody will be forcing anyone to use metro or buy any of the walled garden metro apps. It's just a program that lets you run the sandboxed metro apps. Close it or boot into the standard desktop. Most metro apps will support windows mobile devices and the desktop.

        To the vast majority of users that download and try all the free apps they can click on and who don't know or care about any of this, being able to fix a "my phone is infected and doesn't work!" type scenarios is absolutely a feature.

        Also, I doubt any os provider will want to be in the spotlight for causing mass network outages after some trojan decides to activate on 100,000 phones, with no way to stop it.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "And I'm guessing that the majority of folks here have at least one windows box."

        Er, good luck reaching my disconnected VMs from the Internet, and I already store Snapshots of my clean Windows installations so the future won't be any different.

      • Re:doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lightknight (213164) on Friday December 09, 2011 @12:48AM (#38311862) Homepage

        And Ballmer's sad parade of preferring DRM over any other form of innovation nears its end, with the death of Microsoft.

        Were I in charge of MS, my first standing order would be to rip out all DRM components from the OS, and dispatch any board member that disagreed with me. Followed shortly by my second order, which is to quit hiding / moving the fricking control panel every time we release a new version of Windows. And my third, and probably last order, before the shareholders revolt, would be to complete the migration of all OS functions to managed code. I say last order, as it would take several additional years to complete, during which the shareholders will no doubt lose confidence in my long term plan, and act to replace me.

        At no time, during my reign, would I forget that the company was founded on a simple principle: personal computers. More specifically, the importance of personal computers, as a paradigm, as opposed to mainframes, how the two differ, and why the personal computer propelled the company to success in the first place. More importantly, however much I might be annoyed with piracy, and given to personal fantasies of turning pirates into paying customers, I will be aware that every person who runs a pirated copy of my software is not running a copy of the competition's. Additionally, I would be mindful to exercise every opportunity to utilize the underlying OS and hardware to provide a better "experience" to the end user than could reasonably be fabricated through a web browser.

      • by cgenman (325138)

        you will absolutely no longer exclusively have root for your hardware.

        Considering the number of boxes I've had to clean up over the years, very few people exclusively have root on their hardware.

  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by masternerdguy (2468142) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @10:57PM (#38311222)
    So can apple.
    • Re:And? (Score:5, Informative)

      by InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:03PM (#38311272)
      And Google for Android too. They've used it before to kill malware apps. It's a good feature to have, exactly for that reason.
      • Re:And? (Score:4, Informative)

        by mjwx (966435) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:19PM (#38311390)

        And Google for Android too. They've used it before to kill malware apps. It's a good feature to have, exactly for that reason.

        The difference is,

        1) you are not 100% reliant and bound to Google for Applications, if you find their "controls" (mocking voice and air-quote) too restrictive, you can simply select "allow unkown sources".

        2) Google are yet to use it to pull an application for offending their sensibilities or competes with them, unlike Apple.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Apple has never remotely killed an app. Google and Amazon have. Apple has removed apps from their store, but that's not the same thing.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          You can't allow unknown sources with all Android phones. Some operators also lock that feature out, so you have to jailbreak it. Which is the same situation for iPhone. For Windows phones, there's an $5 app that does let you run any app you want.
          • Some operators also lock that feature out

            Which? AT&T relented on this half a year ago [tgdaily.com] in response to overwhelming customer demand for Amazon Appstore and issued a firmware update reenabling "Unknown sources".

            so you have to jailbreak it

            Even on devices that have no "Unknown sources" checkbox, a user can still connect the phone to a PC with a micro-USB cable and sideload with adb install or with a GUI wrapper around adb install. Google requires that a device let the end user access to Android Debug Bridge before Google will allow the device's manufacturer to install the An

          • Re:And? (Score:5, Funny)

            by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday December 09, 2011 @12:09AM (#38311682)

            there's an $5 app that does let you run any app you want.

            what happens if you run it on itself?

        • 1) you are not 100% reliant and bound to Google for Applications, if you find their "controls" (mocking voice and air-quote) too restrictive, you can simply select "allow unkown sources".

          Or jailbreak or sideload. Just as approachable for the technical user (actually a little easier for non-technical people on the iPhone because there's a cottage industry around Jailbreaking).

          Also on the iPhone, you are slightly better off since there's a centralized non-Apple store - Cydia.

          Google are yet to use it to pull

          • by Rennt (582550)

            Also on the iPhone, you are slightly better off since there's a centralized non-Apple store - Cydia.

            Better off? Do you realize that there are a whole range of non-Google stores available for Android (ranging from strictly OSS to strictly warez), and that many of them are installable directly from Google's market without even requiring root?

        • by forkfail (228161)

          Of course, Android doesn't run on your desktop.

          From TFA:

          Microsoft unveiled an app store for Windows 8 apps, on Tuesday. The key ingredients of the Windows Store are easy app discovery from within and without the online marketplace, built-in app trials with quick upgrade paths, support for both x86 and ARM-based hardware, and a flexible business model, Microsoft's Antoine Leblond said then.

          "In cases where we remove a paid app from your Windows 8 Beta device not at your direction, we may refund to you the amount you paid for the license," Microsoft added. "Some apps may also stop working if you update or change your Windows 8 Beta device, or if you attempt to use those apps on a Windows 8 Beta device with different features or processor type. You are responsible for backing up the data that you store in apps that you acquire via the Windows Store, including content you upload using those apps. If the Windows Store, an app, or any content is changed or discontinued, your data could be deleted or you may not be able to retrieve data you have stored. We have no obligation to return data to you. If sign in information or other data is stored with an expiration date, we may also delete the data as of that date."

        • Re:And? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by bluemonq (812827) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:55PM (#38311626)

          1) For $9 ChevronWP7 provides an officially sanctioned tool to root your Windows Phone. It's not $0 like Android, but at least easy to do and isn't disabled at on a whim by Microsoft, unlike how Apple treats jailbreaking. Yes, jailbreaking is legal, but nothing in the law says Apple has to make it easy -- so they don't.

          2) Apple has yet to remote pull anything.

          • by oakgrove (845019)
            How many apps are you allowed to install with chevron? Isn't it something like 10? Why would I be excited about being allowed to pay to only install 10 of my own apps on my own device that I bought and paid for? Because it's "official"? Why do I even bother replying to this stuff?
      • Re:And? (Score:5, Funny)

        by obarthelemy (160321) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:35PM (#38311502)

        That's it. Since Phone apps are at the whim of the provider, I'm moving all my stuff to the cloud !

        • by plopez (54068)

          Darn. Wonderfully sarcastic, but topical in light of the recent "Is Your Data Safe in the Cloud" topic on /.. I wish I could mod you up.

      • by jbn-o (555068)

        I don't believe it's good to lose one's software freedom [gnu.org] and let unknown people determine what you make your computers do.

    • And... I think it's still idiotic no matter who is able to do it. "Company X is doing it too!" isn't a good way to defense the practice, in my opinion.

    • Control as opposed to freedom. Apple had engaged in jailing its users, and made exorbitant amounts of money over it, and all corps are now following suit.

      When jobs died, we discussed this at length. Many of us told that he set a very very harmful trend with apple, and because of the success that model had with milking the customers, ALL corporations would naturally follow suit. A lot of people objected.

      ............

      And lo. Microsoft happily is following suit.
      • by flosofl (626809) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:24PM (#38311422) Homepage
        That may be the case, but I've never had Apple yank an app from my iPhone. Even an app that I purchased that Apple subsequently removed from the store for "violations". Still have it and I used it many many times since it was no longer "legit".

        I have had Amazon delete a book I was in the middle of right off my Kindle (not in mid-read, when the kindle went to sleep). They did refund me, but that's not quite the point is it Amazon?
        • by unity100 (970058)

          I've never had Apple yank an app from my iPhone

          yet.

          microsoft is taking the control mania one step away. if they get away with it, and make good money in meantime, you can bet that not only apple but others will start doing the same, citing 'industry standard practice'.

    • Re:And? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2011 @12:10AM (#38311696)

      And? So can apple.

      On one hand, that is so off-topic that you and all the people modding you should be ashamed.

      A SELLER of apps on the Apple store CAN NOT cause their app to be removed. At all.

      Apple can. The seller CAN NOT.

      Of course Microsoft can. The point here that you completely missed is that individual sellers using the store now have this ability.

      As an iApp developer, I simply do NOT have any ability to do as you imply and remove an app from anyone's device but my own.
      Only Apple can do that.

      So you are all of wrong, off topic, mistaken, and completely missing the point.

      • Re:And? (Score:5, Informative)

        by recoiledsnake (879048) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:50AM (#38312140)

        And? So can apple.

        On one hand, that is so off-topic that you and all the people modding you should be ashamed.

        A SELLER of apps on the Apple store CAN NOT cause their app to be removed. At all.

        Apple can. The seller CAN NOT.

        Of course Microsoft can. The point here that you completely missed is that individual sellers using the store now have this ability.

        As an iApp developer, I simply do NOT have any ability to do as you imply and remove an app from anyone's device but my own.
        Only Apple can do that.

        So you are all of wrong, off topic, mistaken, and completely missing the point.

        Whoa there, slow down cowboy!

        The summary does say seller can pull apps but there's no mention of that whatsoever in the article or anywhere else. I am going to assume that 'seller' here means Microsoft and not the developer(since MS is the one selling the goods).

        What would you rather trust, a Slashdot summary filled with typos trying to bash MS or TFA?

  • NSA Key of Yore (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by cosm (1072588)
    Although this is laterally related, anybody remember the proverbial NSA Key [wikipedia.org]?
  • by gman003 (1693318) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:00PM (#38311244)

    I can understand a company wanting, or needing, to provide a way to remove malware or illegal content. I can't say I fully agree with it, but I can understand the need. So the existence of such a system, in and of itself, isn't a particularly Bad Thing.

    But this had better not be misused. Unless it's actively and secretly causing damage to the system (sending out spam or whatnot), it had better have a court order to be forcibly removed from users' computers. Maybe even then.

    No deleting people's apps just because the seller removed it. No deleting people's apps because of some vague DMCA request. It had better be a legitimate, legally-validated removal.

    I think a good way to ensure this would be that, if it is ever used, both Microsoft and the seller have to refund the cost to the user. That won't help much for free apps, but it would really help make sure regular apps aren't pulled back for no real reason.

    • by retech (1228598) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:02PM (#38311262)
      Once given you can rest assured any power will be abused.
      • by gman003 (1693318)

        Now, now, just because they can doesn't mean...

        Ah, fuck, who am I kidding. Microsoft's inevitably going to misuse this. Anyone would. Hell, you could hand me the big remote (that's how they do it, right? Giant remote control?) and I'd probably misuse it.

        You need an economic disincentive to do so, besides "it pisses off consumers and we'll lose business". "Pulled apps are refunded" is a good disincentive - at the very least, they'd have to make a lot of money by pulling an app in order to use it. That's pret

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by grcumb (781340)

          Ah, fuck, who am I kidding. Microsoft's inevitably going to misuse this. Anyone would. Hell, you could hand me the big remote (that's how they do it, right? Giant remote control?) and I'd probably misuse it.

          You need an economic disincentive to do so, besides "it pisses off consumers and we'll lose business". "Pulled apps are refunded" is a good disincentive - at the very least, they'd have to make a lot of money by pulling an app in order to use it. That's pretty unlikely.

          MEGACORP: We want you to kill our competitor's app.

          MICROSOFT: Ca't do that. We'd piss people off and lose revenue.

          MEGACORP: How much revenue?

          MICROSOFT: [Looks at spreadsheet.] Hmmm... about $20 million a year. Why?

          MEGACORP: We want you to kill our competitor's app... for $25 million.

          MICROSOFT: Done! [To Lackey:] Bring me The Remote.

          • by davidgay (569650)
            Competitor: Wow! Call the lawyers! Open the champagne! We're set for life!

            At the same time, at every major lawfirm: Quick, call Competitor and ask them if they would like our services for 5% of the award!

            At the same time, at Apple and consumer rights societies: Quick, issue a press release!

    • It's completely indefensible. If they were concerned with users, then when an app was purged it would notify you, with perhaps a handy button to go ahead and kill the app. Forcibly removing the app without input is obviously meant for situations where you have something they don't want you to have, and the problem with centralized gatekeepers like this is 'they' becomes 'everyone who does business with Microsoft' which is a scary approximation of 'everyone, period'.

      The paradigm is shifting, and the golden

  • by forkfail (228161) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:02PM (#38311260)

    They're moving towards a complete lease model as opposed to ownership.

    You already lease your software anyway.

    This version of Windows will pretty much make you lease your hardware what with the "secure" boot for all practical purposes. And you'll be leasing any administrator access MS might grant you as well.

    • It's still better than using cloud services or SaaS models like Google apps. If you get whole app it still works even without internet, and since you don't have internet, they can't kill it. With cloud services they can just stop offering the service and then it's gone. It has happened to many Google products too, and they don't even announce it that much in forward. It's usually instant or at max a few months.
      • by forkfail (228161)

        Except....

        The app will be gone the next time you connect. And if they use a Steam-esque approach, you may not be able to run apps without a connection.

        They own your root. You no longer own that at all (though, Dell, Best Buy, etc have been holding on to that for some time anyway).

        So - really - I guess that I see them turning your computer into a local mirror of the SaaS model. Just that you are running it on cores and in memory that you are for all intents and purposing leasing.

    • by syousef (465911) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:53PM (#38311610) Journal

      They're moving towards a complete lease model as opposed to ownership.

      You already lease your software anyway.

      This version of Windows will pretty much make you lease your hardware what with the "secure" boot for all practical purposes. And you'll be leasing any administrator access MS might grant you as well.

      Actually it will push me to Linux - something I thought i'd never do. I've always used Microsoft Windows because it was the better solution - it runs more of the software I want to run (including games and graphics intensive apps) and thus gave me the most flexibility. But now Windows gaming is all but dead, all the apps have become ridiculously priced (Have you seen what Photoshop costs these days???) and now they want to control what I can run. Seeya! Don't let the door hit your arse on the way out.

  • Naive popularity will drag horrid ideas like this along for the ride as the future consolidates application control and computing into the "cloud" elements that can crap all over you if you are not getting along.

    Don't buy into the hype, so we can prolong the inevitable...but in the end, dumb people will drag us off the cliff and we won't find open alternatives that function in society.
    boy do I loathe the thoughtless nature of many...and how it affects my options.

  • by Lotana (842533) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:03PM (#38311276)

    What the hell is wrong with our IT industry and its hostility towards their users? When did this start and where did we go wrong that brought us to this state?!

    • by forkfail (228161) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:10PM (#38311322)

      It's all about money.

      A company that can control all aspects of their product reduces cost. So, if MS controls your root access, what software you can load, what you can boot, etc - they make more money because their costs are lower. And the OEM's make more money, which also flows back to MS.

      It's not about hate and hostility - rather, it's about maximization of profit. And a result of this is, in the end, a less appealing product that people will accept because it's wrapped up nicely (with a bow and sexy dancing girls selling it), and because a lot of people don't [see|have] an alternative.

      • by InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:16PM (#38311370)
        It's kind of sad actually, as the old Windows Mobiles always allowed you to install anything you wanted, just like the desktop Windows does. Apple can be blamed for this stuff too.
        • by forkfail (228161)

          This isn't just about the mobile. This is about your desktop. The app store will be for your Windows 8 desktop. You will effectively not exclusively own root on a windows box once Windows 8 launches.

          • I doubt they will lock the desktop OS that way. Yes, there will be app store, but you will be able to run programs normally too. Desktop is completely different beast, and companies won't put up with it if they cant run their own code or software bought elsewhere. Not all software can be put to app store either. So it will be basically like package management in Linux is.
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:25PM (#38311438)

      It happened when the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook realised that being the owner of a walled garden (or even a slightly fenced garden) means you can do more-or-less what you like to users once you've locked them in.

      A lot of people might be upset, but 97% of them won't do any more than bitch about it on Slashdot/Facebook/Reddit/whatever, and they'll still keep buying. The few who really will vote with their wallets for a more user-friendly alternative or go without products/services that come with nasty strings attached are so small in number that the big players can just ignore them.

      That means the platform owners can adopt whatever abusive practices they want to make more money, short of breaking the law enough to lose a major lawsuit. And since the law everywhere is at least a decade behind the implications of modern technology, a lot of things that thoughtful geeks might consider dangerous aren't actually illegal anyway, at least not clearly so.

      None of this will change until either a large consumer backlash begins (which is not beyond the bounds of possibility in the world today, but is on a gentle simmer right now) or legislation starts getting written by smart, thoughtful people who think through the implications of modern technology, understand the need to protect consumers, also understand the need to make commerce reasonably profitable, and try to come up with policies that balance these factors in a fair way (and then I woke up...).

    • by bmo (77928) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:29PM (#38311454)

      What the hell is wrong with our IT industry and its hostility towards their users?

      Because users are completely, utterly, stupid. At least the vast majority of them. 90 percent of people (I'm sure the statistic is higher) don't want computers. They think they want computers. What they really want are magic boxes that do magic things and don't want to worry about any kind of maintenance. Steve Jobs knew this. Microsoft is merely catching up.

      And Slashdot is not representative of the "computing" public. What you want, dear Lotana, doesn't count.

      --
      BMO

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wanting a "magic box" that is low maintenance and does useful things, does *not* make users completely, utterly stupid. I have a car that is pretty much a magic box to me. I can drive it around but I can't fix it. I use electricity but the infrastructure that supplies it is pretty much a magic box to me. Lots of different magic boxes for different people.

        • by bmo (77928)

          I suggest you speak to an actual mechanic some time.

          Car owners are completely, utterly, stupid.

          --
          BMO

    • Well from an it standpoint I can see distrust of users sprouting from the million upon millions of virus-laden pcs. Bot nets deluging the Internet with spam Trojan key loggers that get installed and empty bank accounts if money and companies of their trade secrets. Government agencies that issue redacted information by drawing colored boxes over text in PDFs. Users f'ing up machines so bad they can't even boot properly.

      Some of that is because of faulty software, but so much of it is also due to users blindl

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:24PM (#38311424) Homepage

    Another reason to avoid Windows.

  • "the cloud" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoninIN (115418) <don.middendorf@gmail.com> on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:27PM (#38311448) Homepage
    The whole point of "the cloud" network computing, etc. Whatever we're calling it these days. Is that they want to keep charging us over and over for the same thing. They want us to rent everything from them. The computing platform, the phone, the device, the apps, as a result they can even own our data. Have fun with that if you want to a digital serf. You can opt not to use a lot of these gadgets, they're bad business models, and one can be a nerd without owning all those faddish gadgets.

    Get off my lawn.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:31PM (#38311474) Homepage Journal

    It sounds like Microsoft is just explicitly passing the buck for terminating an application to the application's vendor, not like they're trying to assume that capability and responsibility for anything, including malware cleanup. I'd think malware cleanup options would fall under the purview of the anti-virus service providers.

    Note I said service provider. Like it or not, maintaining a secure system means subscribing to maintenance services for a lot of the software you need. You haven't been able to "buy" a lot of critical services for a long time. This is not a new delivery model by any stretch of the imagination.

    Even Linux relies on service providers -- the distribution packagers and testers.

  • Oh great.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iamhassi (659463) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:31PM (#38311484) Journal
    I've already lived this with iTunes. I bought iFitness [appshopper.com] (more here [medicalprod.com]. During an iOS upgrade there was some sort of issue and PC backup turned out to be corrupt and couldn't restore the apps. "No problem," I thought, "I downloaded all of these apps from the store, I can just re-download everything."

    Nope, despite being one of the five best fitness apps [lifehacker.com] it was pulled from the market for unknown reasons. Some claim it was banned for posting fake positive reviews, [appadvice.com] but that seems completely unnecessary considering how [mensfitness.com] much [thatsfit.com] praise [nytimes.com] iFitness [go.com] received. [washingtonpost.com]

    Because of that I no longer trust my phone or the "cloud" to keep my data safe.
  • by seandiggity (992657) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:09AM (#38311958) Homepage
    There's a Windows phone now? And it has apps too? Plus the data you upload to Microsoft servers can be deleted by them? *And* they put a killswitch in the phone to uninstall apps remotely?

    ...seriously, this is exactly what everyone else does, following the shitty example that Apple and Amazon set for them. I know you can jailbreak an iPhone and turn off the killswitch with a swipe of the finger, but I doubt anyone cares enough yet to jailbreak a Windows phone. But they will. Whether there are ever enough apps in the Windows Store to make Microsoft have to wipe one from the few phones they sell is another question ;)
  • by formfeed (703859) on Friday December 09, 2011 @03:08PM (#38317660)

    ..Remotely Kill Purchased Apps

    First, they probably never purchased the apps but got a license that allows them to use the app. That license grants the user certain rights, like numbers of copies a user can run, on what device, on what day and in what rooms of the house. Certain users abuse these rights,

    Second, Microsoft doesn't kill apps. Apps are like children to Microsoft. And if you mistreat them you might lose custody.

    Finally, "remotely kill" sounds like a drone attack, but Microsoft is just helping the users to avoid running apps they shouldn't. A more neutral term would be "Microsoft can remotely assist users to disable apps."

    P.S: I'm also looking for a new job, anything near Seattle would be swell.

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