Microsoft App Developers Can Respond to Your Reviews

User reviews are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, satisfied customers can spread the word and boost sales of your product or service. On the other hand, negative reviews can scare people away, even long after the issue referenced in the text has been resolved. Microsoft is hoping to help Windows Phone app developers take control of user reviews by affording them the ability to respond to reviewers with updates on new features and bug fixes.

Microsoft announced the change today in two separate posts, one for developers and one for users. The former Microsoft said that the addition of responses is supposed to help developers maintain closer contact with users in order to address common concerns, gather feedback, and address bugs. Interestingly, Microsoft goes out of its way to inform Windows Phone 8 users that the feature is not supposed to be an avenue for debating personal opinions. In fact, users are encouraged to report questionable responses left by developers. 

"This capability is not about allowing developer[s] to question or debate your personal opinions," Microsoft said in a blog post directed at users. "In fact, developers who misuse the ability to respond to app reviews will lose the privilege. Windows Phone users are encouraged to report any questionable developer response via the reporting link in the "details" section of the app's description (shown at left below)."

Microsoft first talked about review responses at Build earlier this month. It's being rolled out as a private pilot program for now and will eventually enjoy a more widespread deployment. What's interesting is that Microsoft has not even touched on the fact that developers often see inaccurate or misguided reviews or feedback from users with bad intentions or trolls. No doubt some developers responding to baseless, negative comments will be reported for abusing the response feature. Then they stand to lose their privileges for defending their apps. The best advice there is probably: "Do not engage." We guess the lesson here is to only respond to reviews with constructive criticism.

Follow Jane McEntegart @JaneMcEntegart. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • Well, android dev can do this from years ago, but still an asshole of developer is an asshole. So many half baked apps and so many users reporting bug and bad experience just to get no answer and no responses from the dev. The funny things is when site like Tom's guide feature it as a good app and when one goes to the download page and see people raging and reporting bugs, making one unsure whether it is really good as some-famous-tech-site says or just a crap filled with bugs, even more no response from dev EVEN THOUGHT the dev can response them. I hope this is not the case with Windows Phone, cause I'm beginning to get interested in WP.
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  • ^^ For Example^^

    eBay tried the seller is not allowed to give negative ratings to buyers thing and it left seller open to extortion by unscrupulous buyers of which there are enough to be problematic.
    Also ignorant or uninformed buyers are big problem because of this.
    eBay not enforcing the auction terms is another wrong idea.

    I would hazard a guess that the majority of negative reviews netwide are from ignorant buyers or trolls, some paid. Many complain about off topic things like the store is far away or I couldn't fine parking near by. Or they complain about how they ordered the wrong item or claim they see that the problem they are having is reported a lot, yeah by other buyers that can't read or google the item before purchase.

    One of the lamest is the buyer that interprets terms so that they fit their complaint, I paid for 3 day shipping and when I called the day after my order it had not even shipped so it took 4 days to arrive, but I wasn't there to sign for it so I had to wait til the next day, why didn't they tell me they would not leave the ($2000 50" HDTV) item on my doorstep, so it took 5 days to get here one star, I would give zero stars if I could.

    This all means the real review info that is useful is obfuscated by a system that does not qualify and sort reviews and complaints other than 'verified purchaser' or not.
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  • Good idea, users can leave all kinds of ignorant dross and devs have no method to respond so allowing them the same forum will at least level the playing field
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