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Microsoft jabs at Apple with 'app store principles to promote choice'

Microsoft logo
Microsoft logo (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft shared a list of 'ten principles to promote choice' for developers.
  • The list outlines ways that Microsoft gives developers options for distributing games and apps.
  • The post does not mention Apple or Google specifically but is potentially referencing the companies.

Microsoft published a list of ten principles that it will use to guide decisions regarding developers and app distribution. In a blog post titled "10 app store principles to promote choice, fairness and innovation," Microsoft outlines how it ensures that Windows 10 is an open platform. The blog post from Microsoft does not directly mention Apple, Google, or ongoing antitrust investigations involving those companies, though it is potentially related to recent events.

Here is the full list of principles outlined by Microsoft:

  1. Developers will have the freedom to choose whether to distribute their apps for Windows through our app store. We will not block competing app stores on Windows.
  2. We will not block an app from Windows based on a developer's business model or how it delivers content and services, including whether content is installed on a device or streamed from the cloud.
  3. We will not block an app from Windows based on a developer's choice of which payment system to use for processing purchases made in its app.
  4. We will give developers timely access to information about the interoperability interfaces we use on Windows, as set forth in our Interoperability Principles.
  5. Every developer will have access to our app store as long as it meets objective standards and requirements, including those for security, privacy, quality, content and digital safety.
  6. Our app store will charge reasonable fees that reflect the competition we face from other app stores on Windows and will not force a developer to sell within its app anything it doesn'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 hold our own apps to the same standards to which it holds 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 rules and policies and opportunities for promotion and marketing, apply these consistently and objectively, provide notice of changes and make available a fair process to resolve disputes.

These principles aren't new stances. Microsoft has allowed developers to distribute apps and games how they'd like for years. Steam and Epic are already available on Windows 10, and it's clear that won't change. While the Microsoft Store is one distribution option for developers, it isn't the only option. Some would argue that the Microsoft Store isn't even the preferred option on Windows 10.

Toward the end of the blog post, Microsoft addresses that it operates on a different set of rules when it comes to the Xbox platform. Xbox consoles are not open like Windows PCs. Microsoft states that its different approach to Xbox consoles is because of a different business model between PCs and consoles.

Game consoles are specialized devices optimized for a particular use. Though well-loved by their fans, they are vastly outnumbered in the marketplace by PCs and phones. And the business model for game consoles is very different to the ecosystem around PCs or phones. Console makers such as Microsoft invest significantly in developing dedicated console hardware but sell them below cost or at very low margins to create a market that game developers and publishers can benefit from. Given these fundamental differences in the significance of the platform and the business model, we have more work to do to establish the right set of principles for game consoles.

Tim Sweeney, CEO and founder of Epic stated in response to Microsoft's principles, "It's wonderful to see Microsoft formally codify its long-held principles in Windows as an open platform and fair market for all developers and consumers."

The Epic Games Newsroom Twitter account also shared its thoughts on Microsoft's principles, stating, "Microsoft supports choice, competition and fairness on Windows. This is the freedom consumers and developers want and it's the future of app stores."

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

24 Comments
  • MS store is still rubbish without mobile OS from Microsoft. nobody uses it. 🤷🏾‍♂️
  • Bought an app yesterday from the store. lol. But x86 legacy holds on due to freedom and control. Converesely, Apple and Google fleece their developers due to their monompoly on mobile OS. I'm sure developers are NOT hoping to be forced into a 3rd store. Hence the reason MS published these principles in hopes to differentiate why the MS store is better for them.
  • Abolutely not true. A lot of people use it. You're just assuming everybody thinks like you do.
  • Gimme a break. The Windows store is a wasteland. So much so that there aren't even MS' major apps on it. Where's Office? Teams? Edge? Not in the store.
  • IIRC, Office is actually on the store, and Edge is already preinstalled and un-removeable on Windows devices.
  • If you're looking for mobile games and adware you won't find many on the MS store; Windows is primarily a productivity platform. Even PC gaming, big as it is, is but a small part of the ecosystem.
    As for the Windows store, apps in it have to be certified run in Windows S mode and pay MS something like 10% of initial sale. As Windows is an open platform, that won't work for every developer.
    It does offer automatic updates to developers who choose to use it which is useful for many.
    In my case I got FBReader for Windows and KODI through them. Works like a charm.
  • I love generalizations. I use the store on PC all the time. "No one" is a very broad statement.
  • I use the Microsoft store to get a few apps. Your assessment is wrong.
  • I use the Store for dozens of paid apps. Speak for yourself.
  • I use it too. Even paid for some apps.
  • I have quite a few apps from the Store. And for games, Game Pass, etc are you even kidding me with that 'nobody uses it' line? The store works as advertised. It's entirely irrelevant to Windows 10 if Microsoft has a mobile OS. They have a bunch of junk apps, yes. Please point out a major store that doesn't.
  • Some of my favorite MS Store apps... OneNote, To Do, Fuji Kaomoji, WhatsApp Desktop, One Calendar, Amazon Prime Video, Astroneer, iCloud, HP Smart, Skype, Drawboard PDF, Speedtest, MSN Weather, Spotify. So while I agree Microsoft could do more, I especially lament that Bing Wallpaper, Office 365, Teams, Visio, and Edge are MIA, as well as tons of great 3rd party titles found elsewhere, there are plenty of apps that I use on a daily basis. (。•̀ᴗ-)✧
  • I don't know why they would do this. It just gives them unwanted attention. And the explanation for the Xbox's case, to me, isn't convincing.
  • No, but they don't need to explain why a console sells the games thst its manufacturer wants. Let Sony or Nintendo explain thst first. It's not MS's burden. Shouldn't have even mentioned it.
  • They are doing this because they want Xcloud on iOS, or at least that is part of it I believe.
  • Exactly.
    They went to all the trouble of writing and doing zn open beta test of xcloud for iOs and after all that time and money, Apple kicked them out. They were probably laughing at waiting 'till the last moment to "pull the football away".
    Well, MS can play games, too.
    They might even get the last laugh.
  • Who says the attention is unwanted?
    They *want* lots of attention.
    Especially on Apple. :)
  • I like this. They're not saying anything that we don't know, just rubbing the difference in the face of Apple (and to a lesser extent, Google). They are making them look bad by doing the right thing. I applaud them.
  • One thing that makes Apple different from Google and Microsoft, is that Apple makes its own devices, does not license its OS to OEMs or allow clones. They limit their OS to just their device, so you don't have choices as you do with Android, Chrome OS and Windows which is on many different devices
  • Yet none of that requires Apple to prevent in-app purchases, as one example, from being handled directly by the app developer instead of Apple. I expect the EU to eventually put a stop to that. Then the question will be will Apple do the right thing and apply any EU requirements to the US and other markets (which would be the easier path to implement and be consumer friendly) or will they continue to stick it to developers and their customers in the US and anywhere else outside of EU jurisdiction?
  • It's Apple.
    The latter. The EU will only fine them and they'll just raise prices to make up for it.
    At least until DOJ steps in.
  • It's really great, and smart of Microsoft to formalize this.
  • Does MacOS allow competing app stores?
  • I agree that platforms of billions of users should be treated differently than niche platforms like Nintendo, Playstation and Xbox.