Windows 10 Apps Plagued by Fake Tech Support Ads

John Lister's picture

Developers have been shocked to discover their apps for the Windows Store are carrying scam advertising. They are blaming Microsoft for not properly vetting the ads it inserts into the apps.

The apps in question are for Windows 10 and are part of the "modern Windows experience" which lets users get software from an the official Microsoft Store similar to Google Play (for Android) and Apple's App Store (for iOS devices). The only difference is that Windows also allows users to download and install programs directly from software developers.

App makers who use the Windows Store have the option to have Microsoft insert ads in the app and take a cut of revenues. The idea is that the app developers can make more money doing this than by selling advertising slots themselves and spending time and money on administration.

Scareware Ads Scam Users

Now developers who use this tool are complaining the ads Microsoft has inserted include blatant scams aimed at misleading users. The rogue ads use a common tactic known as scareware. This involves the ad opening a new browser tab with a bogus message that claims their computer is infected or damaged, for example by malware. (Source:

The message offers a link to a service or a 1-800 number to call that will supposedly fix the problem for a fee. Oftentimes, such scams aren't just about getting the money for this needless service, but about collecting payment card details that can then be sold on to other scammers via large criminal organization.

In this case, the scam isn't just damaging the end users. The app developers say they are getting blamed by customers who are leaving negative reviews and ratings that in turn are deterring other users from downloading the apps.

Microsoft Tight-Lipped

Microsoft has yet to publicly comment on the specific claims of the developers. Instead, it's only issued a general reminder to users that it will never send out such messages itself and that they should ignore any unsolicited messages and unexpected pop-up windows. (Source:

It's certainly a bad look for Microsoft and a particular blow given one of the key selling points of the Windows Store concept is that apps are more reliable and trustworthy than getting Windows software elsewhere online.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you use any Windows Store apps? Have you come across such messages? Are you surprised Microsoft doesn't appear to have vetted the ads more thoroughly?

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Average: 4.7 (14 votes)


jamies's picture

Yes - cares - as in like the government is listening to you!
Won't do anything about the practices and conditions you complain about,
but does record that YOU have been complaining
about the actions they permit, and/or endorse.

The failure goes along with the links in the 'News' facility
Some of which go to scams and most of which require you to accept advertising and ID/usage data recording.
Especially prevalent on subpages from listed articles that have an expanding advert above the 'NEXT' selection -
So those selecting 'NEXT' before the add had expanded and pushed the 'NEXT' button down the page, placing it's link where the 'NEXT' button was get the new link not the 'NEXT' link.
And windows taking so long to note the user selection that it matches it against the new item in that position, not the one there when the user clicked

With the number of supposedly technically proficient staff Microsoft have, it is surely not that difficult (given the management will, or even wish to do so) to have the NEWS subpages and links checked, and to BAN any using such obfuscation, or misleading techniques or linking to sites where you are presumed to allow cookies to be installed.

Then again - users of Office 365 have had their terms unilaterally changed by Microsoft, and then been required to let Microsoft collect usage data as a part of Microsoft enabling individuals to use the office application facilities.

I was looking forward to the VM's being available within windows for browsing and other web interacting activities, but the release is limited, seems to require lots of RAM, and probably will allow data passing by the system through from the VM into the main windows system management code.

Perhaps I need to code a scripting (batch) facility that will get the firewall to block all in and outgoing activity, or only allow specific data through it and then only when I have agreed that the specific data can be transmitted
As in -
Going to facebook - NO, Google, NO, Microsoft, NO
to my bank - Only if I confirm that data is to go to the bank at that web address.

fourwheelsonly_5516's picture

After installing the latest Windows 10 update, every time I opened my MSN Homepage I was getting a popup that told me my computer was infected with 3 viruses. If I clicked it off with the X in the red box it would immediately come on again. It even puts a loud screeching sound through the speakers.
I could not find anything in my download files or in Programs and Features that I could delete, so I knew it was piggy backed on a file.
I ran both Free Malwarebytes and Free Avast Antivirus and they found nothing. In desperation I even tried a rootkit remover, and the Malwarebytes Junkware removal tool, also with no success.
It was while trolling through other web addresses I noticed this was only occurring when opening my MSN Homepage. So I switched to the BBC, and took MSN out of my favourites file and, I haven't seen it since.
However, there is a big BUT! As I know it's still there, and I know if I open MSN again it will be there waiting for me, and I haven't a clue as to where I should look to delete it.

jamies's picture

So after the earlier post I tried 'News' again
new variant on the message - I have files on my system that are not needed and they will be deleted in 0 seconds ( that would be the Windows OS)

I never NEVER use the X to end a suspect windows app/facility/program session
Consider if you run something as simple as wordpad and update a file and then use the X
You get asked do you want to save the file -
So the X does NOT end the app,
what it does is tell the app you want it to give up and go away.
Now if it is malware, what would you expect it to do before ending -
maybe hide itself, set an auto restart and install other 'stuff'

The better way - start Task Manager
(right-click the Start icon, or use CTRL+ALT+DEL)

Select the app and tell Task Manager to "END THE TASK"
as in chop it's head legs and arms off -
It will get NO more CPU, for any of it's processes and any memory returned to available pool.
Note - you may need to end the 'app' a couple of times as there may be multiple instances of the 'app' running - to NOT have the app go away if you use the X.

Resource Monitor also has the "END THE TASK" facility, but you can get some idea of what resources were being used by the app, and other threads/processes running.

JUST when you have selected END THE TASK - check the task reported to be ended is the one you wanted to end -
That is just in-case windows changed the entry on the line you selected.

Re getting rid of the problem - I suspect that you will have to wait for Microsoft to actually remove the facilities they put in the app to allow advertising and other access to your system.

That or go Apple or Linux rather than the Microsoft malware facilitating Windows.

Maybe I should have selected the facility and let it remove Windows!