back to article Microsoft arms Win8 store apps with remote self-destruct

Microsoft has added a kill switch to the Windows Store that’ll let Redmond remove apps from Windows 8 beta machines. Mention of the kill switch is buried deep within the text of the terms-of-use for the Windows Store for Windows 8, which were published this week. According to Microsoft’s red tape, here: In cases where your …


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  1. Vic

    Computer Misuse Act 1990

    It'll be interesting to see if they try that in the UK. Sections 1 and 3 of the Computer Misuse Act lay out the penalties for unauthorised access to a computer. I'm pretty sure a click-through EULA won't trump those.

    Interestingly, section 3A of the above Act makes it an offence to make, adapt, or supply any article intending it to be used in the commission of an offence under sections 1 or 3. That would make the creation of the Win8 store a criminal offence...

    Nothing will happen, of course - because these laws are only ever enforced against individuals, never against anyone who might make any sort of political contribution...


    1. Al Jones

      There won't be "unauthorised access to a computer". Your computer will reach out to Microsofts computer, check the list of valid applications, and disable the once that aren't on the list.

    2. Kanhef

      Agreeing to the T&C containing this clause would arguably count as authorizing such access. Just because you don't read it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    3. N13L5

      Funny the Article says Apple and Google have this kill switch too, but thats not nearly the same thing:

      Windows 8 is your computer, not your phone. Most people would take exception to M$ removing or adding anything to or from their systems, hence, it will be mere weeks before someone disables this functionality - and makes Windows 8 safe against unauthorized meddling.

  2. Christian Berger

    What's why I prefer a distribution

    There I have many people who need to go through some sort of community vetting process and even then they can be held accountable quickly. And if there's some malevolent software, they can simply push out an update to remove it which I as a user can choose to not apply.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Distros and Repos are not panaceas. I've had a borked arduino IDE for nigh on two months, because of an update to GCC which went wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Err ...

        The OP doesn't claim repos are a panacea, ie. a solution to everything. They are however a better solution against malware than a possibly refundable remote kill.

        With respect to the arduino issue that you're still waiting on and which you bring up every time you want to cuss repos:

        I don't know why you think bugs are only to be found in repos. I'd rather the repo than 50 updaters eating my RAM, a la windows. And that's the point you miss when you complain about Linux requiring an update every other day. It's keeping EVERYTHING on your box up to date, not just the OS and the overblown office suite.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          I don't want to cuss repos, I think they are generally a good idea, I was trying to point out that they aren't a fix to everything, they help but in no way guarantee that everything will work. I took the OPs post as a typical suggestion that there would be no problem with any software delivered by a repo. There are many post here that suggest Linux/Repos=Perfect and Windows/Wiondows Update/Proprietary update=Pisspoor, whereas the reality is somewhere inbetween.

          As for the fix you post - yes, it's fixed, but that's my point. I use Fedora and it's still not made it to my laptop.

          The fact that there are many updaters in Windows is hardly MS' fault - the sensible companies (Apple would be one) use the Windows scheduler to schedule updates, so they don't use your RAM. There are, of course many less sensible companies who don't.

  3. Jay Clericus

    Potential rip off ?

    "we may refund to you the amount you paid for the license"

    Which means the purchaser might end up with paying for an app to beta test the software and run the risk of losing out financially in helping microsoft ?

  4. Matthew 3

    Seems sensible

    After the Kindle furore over the enforced removal of Orwell's '1984' and some of the post-acceptance revelations about certain Apple store apps it'd be far more odd not to have a policy like this.

    Burying this deeply in the T's and C's is the only mistake here.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Microsoft has added a kill switch to the Windows Store that’ll let Redmond remove apps from Windows 8 beta machines."

    Is it like the invisible kill switch in Winblows that gives you a blue screen of death for no apparent reason?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Isn't the whole point of a BSOD that it is very apparent what the reason is, what with it telling you exactly what has just gone wrong?

      1. Pisnaz

        Yes that is the point of a BSOD, and I use them to figure the issues out routinely, before having to wrestle with say a minidump. But since XP (possibly 2k), MS trying to avoid the Stigma of the BSOD decided to enforced automatic rebooting on every one, so mostly you got a flicker of blue and poof your system rebooted, defeating one of the best troubleshooting steps or reading the IT the error code.

        1. Vic

          > MS trying to avoid the Stigma of the BSOD decided to enforced automatic rebooting on every one

          Errr - you know you can turn that behaviour off, right?


  6. Ralph B


    > we may refund to you the amount you paid

    Interesting choice of modal verb there. It leaves them free to zap your app and NOT refund you.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cue outrage

  8. Anonymous Coward

    After the break

    After the break:

    Microsoft shafts users.

    Water found to be wet.


    Bears in the woods: what YOU need to know

    Coming up next on "The Bleeding Obvious!"


    Remember: YOU have no rights. YOU own nothing. YOU are a "small", and exist only to serve US, the BIGS.

  9. El Andy


    Isn't this just the inevitable anti-malware clause these days? No walled garden type approach is going to leave known malicious apps that make it through the checks to remain on users machines after having been found, are they?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But if that were the case...

      ...wouldn't they simply GUARANTEE a refund for all buyers of a discovered malware? That way, Microsoft can't be said to be profiting from accidental malware since it becomes zero-sum.

      As for the Computer Misuse Act, couldn't Microsoft argue that NOT having a means to remove malware would ITSELF constitute a misuse (think being denied a bilge pump when your ship is taking on water)? And since it's THEIR software (their copyright, after all), they need a means to keep it secure. And since people are human, it's impossible to keep out every single piece of malware that could potentially exist.

    2. Old Handle

      No, that IS malware.

  10. charles blackburn

    the operative word here being "MAY"

    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.

    in other words, even if you paid 400 bucks for the license, if we decide you shouldn't be running something you paid for, we'll delete it for you and oh btw, we still keep the money.

  11. Gav

    "May" - small word, big implications

    "we may refund to you the amount you paid for the license."

    How can anyone get away with this sort of hedging of bets in a supposedly legal agreement? This statement means nothing, obliges no-one to do anything. They may have well said "we may give you a million dollars, a private yacht and a life-time supply of beer, but we probably won't".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Off topic, but.

      What annoys me at the moment (okay, apart from everything in life) are the competitions that say, eg:

      Buy this chocolate bar and win a trip to the Bahamas.

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Malicious app removed or FOSS ones that breach one of the 'secret' patents that MS hold but won't tell you what it is when your product infringes it.

  13. Franklin

    More interesting than a remote kill switch... whether or not the Microsoft store will have remote install capability.

    Google has this. Apple says they don't, but who know if that's true or not? Their store is not exactly transparent.

    I'm a bit surprised that there's not a lot more discussion about app stores that have the ability to remotely install an app onto a device without the user's consent. This opens the possibility that governments or law enforcement agencies can use court orders to compel the operators of these app stores to install software--say, for example, remote monitoring and/or tracking software--onto people's devices.

    Has this ever happened? I don't know. But the possibility certainly exists that it can, at least with Google's app store (and possibly with others), and it's something that we as a society haven't much discussed or thought through the implications of.

    In an ideal world, any app store with the ability to remotely kill OR install software would have to be completely transparent about when, how, and under what circumstances they would do either, and there would have to be legal safeguards in place to prevent governments, courts, and law enforcement from abusing the ability to do either.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the world of vulnerabilities

    This is about protecting consumers, not about people who know what they're doing. That's us.

    Unless of course you like installing from rogue vendors who will happily mask some kind of malware so you don't know what's going on.

    Basically, it's a kind of white list.

    The refund part is a problem. I haven't read the T's & C's

  15. Raz

    I hope it will not be hard to put up a rule in the firewall or to disable the service. If it's tightly integrated with Windows Updates, I will wait for a hack that removes this "functionality" before installing Windows 8. Thanks for the information.

    I am still in doubt that even Microsoft would dare to pull a legit app from many millions of users.

  16. Simon Jones [MSDL]

    It might be interesting to compare these clauses containing the weasle word "may" - making refunds at Microsoft's discretion - to the Sale Of Goods Act (and similar) where, in the UK at least, the buyer's contract is with the shop, not the manufacturer of the goods, and it is the shop that must provide the refund if the goods purchased do not work or are not fit for purpose.

  17. FordPrefect

    If you don't like the terms just don't buy anything from the app store problem solved? Its not like you are forced to buy from the store is it? Big companies do many objectionable things but this is simple vote with your feet if you DON'T like the Terms and Conditions.

  18. Kernel

    At least with Apple products it's fairly easy to kill the kill switch - just jailbreak and modify the hosts file to stop it happening.

  19. Inachu

    oh hai!

    Ohhello hai this is microsoft and we see you bought an app but not from our store so we will remove it so you have to buy it from us instead.

    Image a hack or virus/trojan that triggers this to totally remove all purchased apps from your pc.

    I will purposefully find that app that communicates with the store and block it for good.

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