Saturday, February 12, 2022

Microsoft’s Open App Store Principles

Brad Smith:

This regulatory process begins while many governments are also moving forward with new laws to promote competition in app markets and beyond. We want regulators and the public to know that as a company, Microsoft is committed to adapting to these new laws, and with these principles, we’re moving to do so.


We want to enable world-class content to reach every gamer more easily across every platform. We want to encourage more innovation and investment in content creation and fewer constraints on distribution. Put simply, the world needs open app markets, and this requires open app stores. The principles we’re announcing today reflect our commitment to this goal.


We will hold our own apps to the same standards we hold competing apps.

We will not use any non-public information or data from our app store to compete with developers’ apps.


We will treat apps equally in our app store without unreasonable preferencing or ranking of our apps or our business partners’ apps over others.


We will not require developers in our app store to use our payment system to process in-app payments.


We will not prevent developers from communicating directly with their customers through their apps for legitimate business purposes, such as pricing terms and product or service offerings.


Nonetheless, we recognize that we will need to adapt our business model even for the store on the Xbox console. Beginning today, we will move forward to apply Principles 1 through 7 to the store on the Xbox console.

Florian Mueller:

In 2020, Microsoft declared itself in agreement with app store principles laid out by the Coalition for App Fairness (without joining the organization), yet left open the question of whether and when those principles should apply not only to mobile devices and Windows, but also to gaming consoles like the Xbox. Apple pointed, and will keep pointing, to gaming consoles in its defense against Epic Games. On the one hand, it’s understandable that Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers was wondering--especially in light of some Epic-internal emails along the lines of “why go after Apple, not Sony?”--why Epic was suing Apple rather than the makers of platforms on which it makes a lot more money and, therefore, pays far greater commissions to platform owners. And she worried about spill-over effects of whatever she would decide (though a case like that doesn’t really matter much until the appeals court has spoken). On the other hand, smartphones and consoles are not even an apples-to-oranges comparison: even the minority of consumers who own a gaming console at all have a smartphone in reach 24 hours a day, and access to a console for only a fraction of that time. Therefore, during large parts of the day, and in countless everyday situations, a smartphone is our only computing device at hand, while we always have alternatives to a gaming console[…]


Apple has made itself “the Enemy of the States” (1, 2). The only ally it has left is Google, and even Google is urging Apple to support an open messaging standard rather than cash in on classism and bullying.


Microsoft aims to be the Gorbachev of app store governance. It considers the opening up of these platforms as inevitable--a question of when, not if.

Becky Hansmeyer:

As I think about Microsoft cleverly positioning themselves as a developer’s best friend, I can’t help but assume that Apple execs are whining “they’re making us look like the bad guys!” instead of asking themselves, “ARE we the bad guys?”


Update (2022-03-09): See also: Hacker News.

1 Comment RSS · Twitter

Beatrix Willius

Am I the only one to think that Microsoft is bizarre?

Regarding the question "are we the bad guys". No, Apple is not going to ask that themselves. They are the good guys. It's everyone against them. My impression is that Apple is totalitarian all the way and doesn't tolerate other opinions. Groupthink is everything.

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