October 12, 2020
Unlike Apple, which continues to keep tight control of its App Store, Microsoft wants to give developers more control. The company’s deputy general counsel Rima Alaily revealed 10 principles for the Microsoft Store. They include letting developers sell different services on their apps and websites and giving them and users access to third-party app stores. Microsoft, whose Store has always been more open, said the principles are aimed to “promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation.”
The New York Times reports that, “Microsoft’s principles largely echo the proposals made by the Coalition for App Fairness, a new nonprofit representing app developers” whose members include Epic Games, Spotify and Match Group, the developer of Tinder.
Alaily added that, “she hoped Microsoft’s commitment to the standards could be a ‘productive’ example for regulators and lawmakers as they consider whether to change the app store model.” Most Microsoft users download new programs from a developer’s website, not Microsoft Store, and the company “already allows other app stores on Windows 10, such as the game streaming platform Steam.”
But Microsoft is also a developer and has “clashed with Apple recently over its all-you-can-play cloud gaming app, which gives users access to many games through one interface.” Apple stated that “each game would need to be approved by Apple as a stand-alone game” and the game developer would have to pay Apple’s commission, leading Microsoft president Brad Smith to tell the House Antitrust Committee that “Apple’s behavior resembled the controlling practices that got Microsoft into antitrust problems decades ago.”
Alaily wrote that, “as an app developer, we have been frustrated at times by other app stores that require us to sell services in our apps even when our users don’t expect or want them, and we cannot do so profitably.” The company’s 10 principles, however, will not apply to its Xbox because the gaming consoles are “sold with little or no profit, or at times below cost,” with Microsoft recovering development costs via games.
In the Microsoft blog, Alaily stated that, “for developers who do choose to use the Microsoft Store, we want to make sure they know that they will be held to the same objective standards as others, will face reasonable, competitive fees that reflect the value they receive, and can be confident we will not use the Microsoft Store to tilt the playing field to our advantage.”