Microsoft lists new Open App Store Principles to help clear regulatory hurdles

Microsoft Store
Microsoft Store (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has made a number of changes to the Microsoft Store experience in recent memory in order to make it more friendly to app makers and consumers.
  • It has now defined its 11 Open App Store Principles.
  • The company also clarified the future state of Call of Duty on PlayStation.

Following its purchase of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft has released a blog post stating its newly christened Open App Store Principles. The company states the post is to let regulators and consumers know that it's making moves to get ahead of legislation so it can best work within the bounds of upcoming laws rather than combat them.

Given that Big Tech has come under increased scrutiny in recent years and Microsoft is in need of regulatory clearance for its gaming acquisition to go through, it's doing what it can to set up a smooth process. Some argue Microsoft's ability to avoid lawmaker scrutiny boils down to its lobbying power, though Microsoft insists it's a matter of playing by the rules and being on the "right side of history."

In the announcement's opening remarks (opens in new tab), ahead of its introduction of the 11 new Open App Store Principles, there appears to be a quick jab at Apple. The author of the post, Microsoft President Brad Smith, says, "too much friction exists today between creators and gamers; app store policies and practices on mobile devices restrict what and how creators can offer games and what and how gamers can play them." If you're wondering what specifically that is a reference to, it may very well be a callout to the recent resurgence of Epic v. Apple chatter.

After the opening remarks, the post breaks the 11 new principles into four subsections.

Quality, Safety, Security & Privacy:

  1. We will enable all developers to access our app store as long as they meet reasonable and transparent standards for quality and safety.
  2. We will continue to protect the consumers and gamers who use our app store, ensuring that developers meet our standards for security.
  3. We will continue to respect the privacy of consumers in our app stores, giving them controls to manage their data and how it is used.


  1. We will hold our own apps to the same standards we hold competing apps.
  2. We will not use any non-public information or data from our app store to compete with developers' apps.

Fairness and Transparency:

  1. We will treat apps equally in our app store without unreasonable preferencing or ranking of our apps or our business partners' apps over others.
  2. We will be transparent about rules for promotion and marketing in our app store and apply these consistently and objectively.

Developer Choice:

  1. We will not require developers in our app store to use our payment system to process in-app payments.
  2. We will not require developers in our app store to provide more favorable terms in our app store than in other app stores.
  3. We will not disadvantage developers if they choose to use a payment processing system other than ours or if they offer different terms and conditions in other app stores.
  4. 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.

The post also clarifies Microsoft's stance on how it will share Call of Duty with Sony and Nintendo in upcoming years.

The Microsoft Store and the company's other storefronts have not always been considered the most consumer- or developer-friendly. Time will tell if these new principles change that perception.

Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to

  • Most of those are trivial to meet for MS because their business doesn't rely on them. (I.e., using private data.) Also, even zero-ing out Windows store income isn't going to show up on their quarterlies. Apple might be an obvious target but they're throwing shade at Google and Amazon too.
    Other, non-digital stores, too. Amazon, Walmart, pretty much everybody with online stores. Amusingly, they know the proposed laws are unlikely to be approved.
    Too many other player's oxes would be gored. Easy to support what is never going to impact you. Still, whatever shuts up the raving politicians at FTC...
  • What is with this headline? How is this app change related to the Activision purchase?
  • Wait for the author to educate us.
  • You need to read past the opening sentence to get this knowledge (try paragraph two).
  • You are absolutely correct, the link to "How is this app change related to the Activision purchase?" is in that paragraph. I was looking for a connection to all MSFT store link and by extension to Activision purchase? unless the article header is just about Activision purchase only and that is where my response of educate us comes in.
  • Apple deserves all the criticism Microsoft throws their way.
  • "The Microsoft Store and the company's other storefronts have not always been considered the most consumer- or developer-friendly. Time will tell if these new principles change that perception." For the purpose of this article, how does your statement in quote above relate or makes sense when you consider the argument about MSFT store does not have apps or enough apps, that developers prioritize iOS and Android over Windows.
    MSFT bought Xamarin, worked with Google on Flute, reduced their cut on their app stores, payed developers to bring their app to MSFT store, here you are saying "Microsoft Store and the company's other storefronts have not always been considered the most consumer- or developer-friendly." It is bad when you fit your opinion with this type of narrow cherry-picked narratives.
    Do the heavy lifting of connecting the dots for a wholistic article like Dan does.
  • asoyemi, you need to understand the difference between referencing other people's perceptions and stating an opinion. I never stated my opinion on the store or MSFT in this article. I referenced the common-knowledge fact (with sources) that some people have issues with the store (as some people have issues with any major service or platform). Furthermore, there is no cherry-picking here. If Reuters and co. are pointing out the obvious, that this is a regulatory sidestepping move from MSFT, then we can say so as well. It's plain as day and Brad Smith himself said that's what it is. Just because you don't like Microsoft being honest about its intent doesn't make it media bias or some such nonsense. Dan supports the above content, so if you're not feeling it, you may be out of luck.
  • I was about to rebut your response in details but thought, what is the point, you, me we'll both just be going in circles.
    Common-Knowledge facts (with sources)? ... Please
    Dan approving the article is not same as Dan supporting it.
    Meanwhile when I referenced Dan "Do the heavy lifting of connecting the dots for a wholistic article like Dan does." was to compare this article to some Dan's writings whether you agree with him or not, you be left with undeniable understanding that he did his homework and the heavy lifting for his readers to understand, learn and force them to critic intelligibly.