WSJ Pulls Its Windows Store App

Posted on June 22, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 55 Comments

WSJ Pulls Its Windows Store App

The Wall Street Journal revealed this week that it is discontinuing its Windows Store app. Is this the start of a new app exodus?

“The Windows 10 app will be discontinued on June 30th,” the Windows Store listing for The Wall Street Journal app reads. “You can access the same content and more on WSJ.com and our iOS and Android mobile apps.”

Whether you use or care about The Wall Street Journal app, this is obviously troubling news: This is a high-profile publisher leaving the Windows Store. And it’s understandable that anyone who suffered through the past few years of Windows phone apps disappearing from the Store would view this departure in a similar light.

But let me offer a different perspective.

I’ve long argued the “right tool for the job” philosophy, and that one of the nice things about Windows 10 is that it marks the return to traditional, productivity-based workflows to Microsoft’s desktop OS. Put another way, the rise of mobile devices means that we tend to perform consumption activities—reading, light gaming, video viewing and so on—on those devices, leaving the PC for the work-related tasks for which it is ideally suited.

In other words: People read The Wall Street Journal on devices for the most part, and for those who prefer to do so on a PC, the website works. There’s no reason for this company to put any effort into a mobile app that runs on a desktop platform that very few people would ever use anyway.

Put simply, I don’t see this as a big deal.

 

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (55)

55 responses to “WSJ Pulls Its Windows Store App”

  1. spacein_vader

    An exodus implies it was popular to begin with.


    That said I think Paul is right about use case, even if I do want to read news on a PC, the browser is more than good enough. Apps for smaller screened tablets & phones make sense but on a computer with a good sized display they're just not needed.

  2. Vuppe

    Indeed, the only thing a WSJ app is useful for is push notifications. Any platform, not just Windows 10.

  3. JustinMSalvato

    Those of us that use our Surface devices as tablets like using those apps, but as you (maybe Brad) has pointed out, many web apps are looking and functioning just as well as their Windows Store apps (someone is snickering).


    Whether on a Windows tablet, desktop, or even a Windows Mobile phone, just pinning the app to the Start Screen or taskbar makes up for not having the app. Hope more websites improve those web apps then one day Steve Jobs' vision may come true.

  4. skane2600

    "In other words: People read The Wall Street Journal on devices for the most part, and for those who prefer to do so on a PC, the website works."


    I must be missing something. Didn't this app work on a Windows 10 phone as well as a PC? So now reading the WSJ would require using the website on your WP10 which is a downgraded experience.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to skane2600:

      The thousands still using Windows phones will be weeping and gnashing teeth.

      I figure the WSJ has some threshold number of users below which they just can't justify any development or support effort. I figure this means Windows phone users of the WSJ app just slipped below a nice round number like 10,000.

      • skane2600

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Yes, I understand the WSJ's probable reasoning for pulling the app, I just don't understand Paul's reasoning that it's OK for users because those who were least likely to use the app (i.e. full Windows users) can always use the website (as they probably have been doing all along).


        As few Windows Phone users there are, UWP apps are far more important to them then to Full Windows users who have plenty of better alternatives.

  5. Rob_Wade

    Here's why this matters: Push notifications. The more companies dump W10 apps and force us to either lower ourselves to buy an Apple or Android product (which will not be me) or use a website, we won't be able to take advantage of push notifications. My wife and I are already VERY frustrated with this very issue regarding our Vivint home security. With our old control panel, the Alarm.com app worked beautifully, allowing us full control over our home automation components and we received push notifications any time there was an alarm system change, etc. Our new panel ONLY supports interfacing with their new app--which is ONLY available on iOS or Android. We no longer get any notifications at all. Period. So, yes, this is a problem.

    • Daekar

      In reply to Rob_Wade:

      You want push notifications from the WSJ?

      I have all kinds of notifications from my UWP apps when they're applicable. Personally, I'm thankful that I DON'T get loads of notifications most of the time. If there is something that needs to happen and the absence of an app is a problem, email notifications are a thing. A cross platform, get it everywhere thing.

      Seriously, so much of this crap is a solution looking for a problem.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Rob_Wade:

      Are there not TODAY push notification capabilities in the current versions of Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers?

      On your other point, buying into the #3 mobile platform was going to be problematic. Metaphorically, you've chosen to settle in the Yukon in 1880, and NO you won't have access to everything people in Calgary might have.

  6. hrlngrv

    Given that UWP and the Windows Store begin as NBD for PCs, and at this point Windows phones and non-desktop tablets are NBD, losing the WSJ UWP app is more of a NBD.

  7. BoItmanLives

    Fanboys when an app is announced for the windows store: "OMG it's finally happening the year of the windows store!"

    Fanboys when that same app leaves the store 6 months later: "Good riddance it sucked anyway, I didn't even use it but I hope they go out of business".

  8. skane2600

    Imagine all the money a UWP developer could make if they could convince all the businesses that have iOS and Android apps to hire them as a consultant to create equivalent Windows store apps. Alas, it will never happen.

  9. glenn8878

    Windows Store apps are frustratingly unusable. They don't work like iOS or Android apps. They look different. The Metro aesthetic has way too much white space. You try them out and you go back to using the web with Chrome. I'm afraid it's a big deal regardless. Apps could drive Windows usage and Windows development. The reality is nothing much new is happening. Microsoft is left chasing its tail since it doesn't understand apps and the app platform.

  10. tbtalbot

    It was an awful app with its own paywall. Will not be missed

  11. Michael Miller

    A few points:

    Paul is a mainstream Windows 10 Desktop user; not much of an APP guy, so his bias against APPs is understandable

    Windows Store for APPs is abysmal; IOS and Android are superior; there is no future for Windows Store

    APPs are excellent when they optimize the user experience as they do on IOS and Android; for example, just compare the WSJ app on IOS to the Windows 10 App--there is no comparison

    Saps like me, who have the Surface 3 thinking it was a good device for consumption but only to find that the Windows Store is very deficient with APPs and that Windows 10 is optimized for desktop usage and not tablet usage, made a large mistake in buying the S3.

  12. thisisdonovan

    Talk about making lemonade Paul. Nothing good can be drawn from the removal of such a high profile app. This is a significant blow to the Microsoft app ecosystem. Your comment may hold true for desktop users, but the app would have been very welcome for windows tablet (including surface pro) users.

  13. Winner

    I just noticed that UWP pronounced phonetically is oop! Lots of oops going on here.

  14. Harrymyhre

    I disagree. I prefer to read these big news feeds on tablets.

    Mobile phones are okay for 140 byte tweets but to get into an article I like a larger screen.

  15. Darekmeridian

    Didn't even know they had an app in the store other than the NYT Crosswords App, which I do use but it works better on Mobile than on desktop anyway, so I used it more on the Surface Pro and iPhone & iPad. Here the paywall sort of works for this app because no matter what device or platform I use my login and settings are synced automatically, no dependency on a particular app store.




  16. kwmansfield

    If you have you use your device as a tablet and as a PC, and are a WSJ subscriber like me, this is very bad news.


    While you can view the content on the device via the website you can't sync the content to the device like you can with an app. So if you are on an airplane you are hosed.


    If the website were as good as the Financial Times website it might not be such a disappointment. The whole advantage of a hybrid device as a differentiator will go away without apps.

  17. Bill Russell

    UWP and "right tool for the job" seem to be contradictory. This app was hailed at it's release as a victory for UWP and the rise of Windows store.

  18. Daekar

    I agree, Paul. I don't understand why any publisher would have any app in the first place. That's why the web exists. It's cross-platform, doesn't have any install barriers, doesn't need permissions granted, doesn't require a separate software team.


    My phone and PC have enough on them without cluttering things up with unnecessary installations.

  19. michaelpatricehuber

    This was really foremost a Windows 10 MOBILE app. They made it available for PCs as well, but it did not look great on a big screen . You could tell throughout that it was designed with the screen size of a phone in mind. So this is really another story about a Windows Phone app disappearing.

  20. Jules Wombat

    Nope this is really part of a really big deal, and that is the wholesale rejection of the Windows Store, by developers and content sources. Failure of UWP and the ecosystem continues.

  21. Atoqir

    You are right on this.


    On PC I use programs to develop (Visual Studio), database management (SQL), server management (remote desktop), workmail and docs/presentations (Office).


    But during my lunch break I fire up my browser to read some news (sites and feedly), stream some music with the spotify webplayer, open my Gmail, chat a bit through whatsapp web, check facebook or watch an episode in Netflix (when I work at home), add some groceries to my google Keep.


    I never use or want a bunch of separate apps for everything home related thing I do. The fact that apps like this are leaving proves I'm not the only one doing it like this.

  22. SteveM

    I well developed responsive website means content displaying apps for all screen sizes are not needed.

    • tbsteph

      In reply to skramer49: spin? More likely the truth. I doubt the WSJ would do anything to reduce their subscription rate.


    • gregsedwards

      I guess I'd say nice balance of perspective. It is troubling from a PR perspective when high profile publishers leave your platform. But I'd argue Paul is absolutely right, since there's no need for an app simply for reading website content on a PC (after all, that's what they seen browsers are designed for). I think it's really more of a commentary on the state of the "appification" of the way we consume information on electronic devices. It goes back to why Brad and Paul haven't created a Thurrott app for any mobile platform: because you don't need an app to consume a website. In reply to skramer49:


    • MutualCore

      In reply to skramer49:

      Progressive web apps would solve a ton of these use cases.

  23. Simard57

    Paul

    with your Apple IPad pro experience - how far off is IOS from being capable of that "traditional, productivity-based workflows"? Will it take 5, 10 or more years? It is not held back by the power of the devices, but by the usability. What would such a device look like and would it negatively impact its heritage (iow - turn a good tablet into a mediocre one).

  24. Maelstrom

    It looks like a big deal to me.

    First, because an app means less or no adds compared to a website and more features like notifications.

    Second, the WSJ app is a UWP app meaning that with the right modifications it could have been used on all Windows 10 devices and not just PC and phone.


    However, if that means a move towards Progressive Web Apps, that could be less detrimental.

  25. EricGHarrison

    I was irritated when I saw the announcement (while using the app no less!), but when I reflected back on my iPad experience with it I decided I was ok that they pulled what was essentially a pretty poor experience. I'd rather they fixed it, but obviously it wasn't worth investing in.


    I think this is a setback, but there are some good store apps out there - Money, Weather, News, Todoist (it's good, not great), NextGen reader, Groove, Movies & TV...


    Time to use their web site again (except on the iPad!).

  26. cseafous

    Paul, I think your take on it makes sense. And it raises a question I have had for some time. I am not a developer and I don't wish to offend any who are but I don't get Microsoft's app strategy. If there are not enough good apps in the Windows store, and the top desktop apps are Chrome and iTunes, why not offer a bridge like Centennial that wraps iOS and Android apps in a UWP shell? What would Microsoft lose?


    And it is also possible that WSJ could be doing a web app or replacing the current app with a more modern UWP and didn't feel the need to mention it. If I recall correctly, that has happened before with other apps. Possible, but not likely.


  27. Bluesman57

    Exactly. I'm a WSJ subscriber, and I use the web page. I always wondered why they bothered with an app. I guess if you're using a Surface (I do) in tablet mode without the keyboard the app might be easier to navigate, but I doubt many people do that. The same goes for The Weather Channel, it's a nice app, but the web page (which I'm pretty sure is a PWA) is so much richer.


    Which brings up another point. When I bought my SP4, I thought that I would use it in tablet mode for reading books and magazines. I almost never do, preferring to read on my phone (Pixel XL).

  28. cseafous

    This also makes a strong argument for Windows 10 S. You just need to keep adding more capabilities to EDGE.

  29. jwpear

    I've never really understood why sites like WSJ created store apps.  The browser works just fine for their content, especially if they take steps to make sure reading view works.  From a dev perspective, HTML/JS is the only true cross device dev platform.  Why waste time on anything else unless it is truly required for some unique feature support?

    I do read on the PC.  The browser works just fine for me.  I don't see this as a big loss for users.  Possibly a loss for MS's store initiative and OS longevity.


  30. Narg

    Apps that are nothing more than web wrappers are falling off in a lot of places, not just the Windows Store. Companies are finding it's not worth the $$$ just to make an app for something that can be done easier via web page.

    • bbold

      In reply to Narg:

      But if that app can bring a few new subscribers, then it's worth it. I guess this is why companies like iTunes and Spotify are also on/coming to the Windows Store. WSJ may be having bigger issues than we know about.


      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/opinion/the-struggle-inside-the-wall-street-journal.html

  31. bbold

    I agree with Jwpear.. I don't understand why newspapers even make apps for PC's and devices that are not 'on the go' like phones. However, with that said, is there a WSJ app in the Mac App Store available for Mac? (not an enlarged iPhone version, but a real iPad or Mac OS app?) I'm assuming there is. If so, that could be troubling, especially since iPad and Surface are trying to somewhat fight for the same 'tablet' minded consumers.

  32. Shel Dyck

    If Edge can get going on PWA's, and lose the chrome on pinned sites, I won't care about anyone's app store.

  33. lightbody

    I was using Readly (a magazine reader) on my Windows convertible laptop and it was fantastic, i loved it.


    Then they stopped the app. I went out and bought a £110 Lenovo Yoga tablet, and use that instead. My laptop meanwhile spends more time unused. It is a big deal, it drives people away from Windows, and towards Android or Apple.

Leave a Reply