The ongoing legal crackdown on apps that pirate TV shows, movies and live sport that has killed off numerous illegal streaming sources appears to have overlooked an unexpected piracy haven - the official Windows Store.
Microsoft's marketplace, which caters for both desktop Windows users and features multiple apps that work on Xbox One via cross-platform support, has been named and shamed today in a report by TorrentFreak.
As it turns out, there is no shortage of questionable applications filling the store's pages.
A quick search in the "Top Free" apps section brings up the usual suspects when it comes to popular apps, with legal streaming apps like Netflix, Spotify and NowTV filling in the top spots, alongside social media favourites like Facebook and Instagram.
At time of writing, Kodi sits in the top five, and while the open-source streaming app is entirely legal, its reputation as a sort-of black market gateway for dodgy add-on creators is perhaps a good indicator of the number of Windows users who are looking for premium video without having to spend a penny.
And those users are certainly catered for as you scroll further through the top apps. Here are just a few of the names plucked from the crop:
- Free Movies Watch Online
- HD Movies 2017
- Free Movies Online 2020
- Free Movies Online 2019
- Free Movies Online #2048 [really?]
- HD Movies Channel
This is by no means an exhaustive list as the sheer volume of pirate-courting apps continues if you keep exploring. You can find them for yourself at the "Top Free" section here.
Considering Microsoft has pushed back against piracy - particularly in regard to its search engine, Bing - the state of the Windows Store is surprising to say the least. Microsoft has yet to comment on the situation, but we will update this article if it does.