Microsoft to Offer 7 Day Return Policy on App Purchases

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

In an effort to get some market share with their up coming Windows 8 app store,  Microsoft has announced that users will be allowed to try apps before they buy them with a 7 day “test drive policy.”

A lot of clever app developers for both Android and iOS already offer limited or “lite” versions of apps for users to test drive for free.  These are usually apps which offer a few features, and hint at others.  Others, offer full versions that are ad supported for free, and strip the ads when you buy the app.  But Microsoft’s “test drive,” will allow for users to try full versions of apps for seven days and then decide whether they want to buy it or stop using it.

I’m not sure that app developers are going to like this development, and it’s likely to hamper app development, but according to Redmond, they have data that shows that users are 5 times more likely to purchase an app, if given the ability to test it first.  I have a hunch that’s pretty accurate.  I hate being dinged by an in-app purchase or having to deal with an ad every two or three tracks I listen to on Pandora.  It’s enough to make me want to pay for it so I’m not being bothered by it.  And I’d rather be able to test the entire app so I can see if it’s really going to do what I want it to.  And if it does, then yes, I’m going to want to buy it. And Microsoft will enable users to keep their statistics, favorites, settings and other in-app settings made during the trial period, that’s nice if you’ve bought an editing app or something that requires plug-ins and presets.

But I also see the app developer point of view that this could encourage sales, but also refunds on people who download an app to play with it for a few days and then demand their money back.  Suddenly, the app developer spends more time moving money around and is getting little in return.  At least Redmond if going to offer analytics so that developers will see how many are trying and are buyin’.  But what’s to stop someone from using the app anyway once they get the refund they want?  I’m betting that Microsoft already has a “phone home” requirement that will let the developer, or Microsoft, know if the user is using the app beyond the 7 day limit and then charge them accordingly or even remotely uninstall the app (which could really upset a lot of users who are uncomfortable with big brother having that kind of control and overseeing capability on someone’s computer.

Microsoft is in a bind here though and really has to take action to hit the ground running on an app store for both it’s Windows 8 OS and it’s Surface Tablet lines.   Since both Android and iOS have close to a million collective apps between them, they have to give users an incentive to go with their platform and a try before you buy option could be it.  But you also have to have the apps written by developers who are on board, and I just don’t know how many are going to want to mess with returns unless Microsoft handles it automatically, or better yet, gives the money back out of their cut.

Hat Tip – D’Vice

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.

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