The company has the ability to disable and remove applications from the Windows Store remotely from Windows 8. Both Apple and Google retain the same power over their respective app stores, though Apple has never had to use the so called "Kill Switch."
The reason for its existence is security concerns. Apple's App Store screens all apps that are available and therefore it rarely has to remove one for violations. Even when it does remove an app, it doesn't ever use the Kill Switch to disable it on iOS devices remotely, even though it could.
Google, on the other hand, has been forced to wield the Kill Switch before. In June 2010, it used the Kill Switch against two Apps that has been available from the Android Market. They were put there by Jon Oberheide, co-founder and CTO of Duo Security, as part of research into vulnerabilities that let malware authors target Android.
During 2011, it used the Kill Switch against scores of malicious apps that had been sneaked onto the Android Market and downloaded by users.
Microsoft has also built in Kill Switch functionality to its Windows Store, for the same reason as both Apple and Google. "In cases where your security is at risk, or where we're required to do so for legal reasons, you may not be able to run apps or access content that you previously acquired or purchased a license for," the Windows Store terms read.
"In cases where we remove a paid app from your Windows 8 Beta device not at your direction, we may refund to you the amount you paid for the license."
So far, it appears that the Kill Switch has only been used by app stores to target genuine security concerns. Let's hope it stays that way.
Written by: James Delahunty @ 10 Dec 2011 9:16