Microsoft is making a big AI-focused change to the Microsoft Store: AI-generated review summaries are going to start appearing across the Microsoft Store, showing top-line synopsis of the reviews in addition to the usual rating of up to five stars. AI-generated rundowns like these are becoming increasingly common — see Artifact’s simple article summaries as well as the forthcoming search summaries Google is working on — and given Microsoft’s recent pushes into everything AI, it makes some sense why the company is introducing the feature.
That said, Microsoft didn’t detail how the information that surfaces in these summaries will be vetted or how the company intends to insulate the summaries against abuse — by bad faith review-bombing efforts, for example. When asked about whether the store will have editorial filters in place to ensure they’re an accurate reflection of reviews, Microsoft Store general manager Giorgio Sardo told us in an email that, “as part of preview, we will gather feedback from the developer community” on the feature.
We also asked if developers will be able to refuse a review summary on their apps, and the answer was the same, though Sardo added that customers may still browse individual app reviews and ratings. On whether there are guardrails to ensure the AI summaries don’t pull in offensive content, Sardo reiterated the company’s commitment to “offering a safe and inclusive environment” for its customers and developers, and referred us to its rating and reviews policies, which say reviews which violate Microsoft’s standards may be removed after publication.
Microsoft is also rolling out the red carpet for AI on the Microsoft Store with a special AI Hub, where the company plans to highlight all the apps folks can download that let them use AI in one way or another. The company says this hub will be designed specifically to guide customers on their “AI journey,” showing them where they can get started or continue working with AI-powered creativity and productivity tools.
On the back end, a new developer tool in the Microsoft Partner Center will allow developers to let AI suggest search tags based on metadata and “other signals” to help an app stand out in search results, but when asked, Sardo did not elaborate on what those signals are, saying again that as the new features move into preview, Microsoft will be refining its approach. The company will also be adding the ability to select multiple categories per app.
Finally, Microsoft announced a few updates to Microsoft Store Ads. The ads will soon start appearing in Bing search results; new video ads are coming to the Microsoft Store spotlight section; and June will see Microsoft Store Ads expand to 150 regions outside of the US.
Microsoft has also updated its backup and restore systems to return Microsoft Store apps to where users had them in the taskbar and Start menu when they upgrade Windows or switch computers.
Update May 24th, 2023, 8:46PM ET: Updated the image showing AI-suggested search tags.