Microsoft Tackles Apple’s Antitrust Campaign With Windows App Store Policies

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Microsoft is releasing today an update to its application store that offers 10 new policies to “promote choice, fairness and innovation.” While detailing the changes, the company attacked Apple over its App Store rules. Notably, this decision sees Microsoft aligning itself with the Coalition for App Fairness which leads the antitrust charge of Apple.

Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Rima Alaily today published a blog post covering new company policies to promote fairness and application development for Windows 10 (via The Verge) . In the opening, Alaily said app stores “have become a critical gateway” and Microsoft is striving to “practice what we preach.”

Notably, Microsoft’s 10 new App Store policies are based on ideas shared by the Coalition for App Fairness, which was founded as companies like Epic Games, Tile, Spotify and others oppose the practices. from the Apple App Store.

For software developers, app stores have become an essential gateway to some of the world’s most popular digital platforms. We and others have raised questions and, at times, expressed concerns about app stores on other digital platforms. However, we recognize that we must practice what we preach. So today we are adopting 10 principles – building on the ideas and work of the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) – to promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation on Windows 10, our platform. -the most popular form, and our own Microsoft Store on Windows 10:

In the section describing how the new principles work, Alaily made it clear how Apple manages its iOS App Store (a closed ecosystem):

Windows 10 is an open platform. Unlike other popular digital platforms, developers are free to choose how they distribute their apps. The Microsoft Store is one-sided. We believe that it offers significant benefits to consumers and developers by ensuring that the applications available meet strict standards of privacy, security and security, while making them easier to find and by providing tools and services. extra so developers can focus on development.

The comment comes after Microsoft recently argued with Apple over its game streaming policies that prevent Microsoft’s xCloud game service from running on iOS.

Going further, the article highlights the benefits for developers who choose to distribute software themselves, including the ability to use whatever payment options they want.

But there are other popular and competitive alternatives on Windows 10. Third-party app stores, such as those from Steam and Epic, are available for Windows and provide developers with different pricing (or revenue sharing) options, standards. , requirements and features. And developers can also easily choose to distribute their applications on their own terms directly over the Internet without restrictions. The first four principles are designed to preserve this freedom of choice, and the robust competition and innovation it enables on Windows 10.

Other New Principles Microsoft says it will stick to keeping its own “applications to the same standards as those of competing applications.”

However, the new principles will not apply to the Xbox yet, here is Microsoft’s rationale:

We also operate a store on the Xbox console. It’s reasonable to ask why we’re not also applying these principles to this Xbox store today. Game consoles are specialized devices optimized for a particular use. Although popular with their fans, they are vastly outnumbered in the market by PCs and phones. And the business model for gaming consoles is very different from the ecosystem around PCs or phones. Console makers like Microsoft invest heavily in the development of dedicated console hardware, but sell them at a lower price or at very low margins to create a market that game developers and publishers can benefit from. Given these fundamental differences in the importance of the platform and the business model, we still have some work to do to establish the right set of principles for gaming consoles.

Here is the full list:

  1. Developers will have the freedom to choose whether or not to distribute their apps for Windows through our app store. We will not block competing app stores on Windows.
  2. We will not block a Windows app based on a developer’s business model or how it delivers content and services, including whether the content is installed on a device or streamed from the cloud.
  3. We will not block a Windows application based on the developer’s choice of the payment system to use to process purchases made in their application.
  4. We will give developers quick access to information about the interoperability interfaces we use on Windows, as outlined in our Interoperability Principles.
  5. Each developer will have access to our app store as long as they meet objective standards and requirements, including security, privacy, quality, content and digital security.
  6. Our app store will charge a reasonable fee that reflects the competition we face against other app stores on Windows and will not force a developer to sell in their app anything they don’t want to sell.
  7. Our app store will not prevent developers from communicating directly with their users through their apps for legitimate business purposes.
  8. Our app store will keep our own apps to the same standards as competing apps.
  9. Microsoft will not use any non-public information or data from its app store about a developer’s app to compete with it.
  10. Our app store will be transparent about its promotion and marketing rules, policies and opportunities, apply them consistently and objectively, notify changes, and provide a fair process for resolving disputes.

Apple last month updated its App Store policies to include more transparency and a few tweaks, but critics of the company, including Microsoft, were not happy with the small changes.

Apple has also created a way for developers to challenge the App Store review process as announced during WWDC 20, but the antitrust issues surrounding its business practices are certainly not resolved.

Read Microsoft’s full article on changes to its app store on its blog here.

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