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Microsoft announced a set of ten principles it will follow regarding its treatment of third-party app stores and developers in its store. Microsoft’s announcement is a blatant jab at Apple for its stringent control over its App store. Apple has been criticized for its crafting policies which end up making it tough for competitors to innovate. One such example is Epic games. They took the company to court after learning that Apple did not want to allow third-party developers the freedom to use alternative in-app payment systems. Spotify and Netflix are a few rare exceptions.
Microsoft said that it will not forbid other app stores to work on Windows along with the Windows Store. According to the tech giant, developers will be given the liberty to choose their business model and in-app payments system. This will include cases wherein the content is streamed from the cloud. Apple is known for making things tough on the App store. Services such as xCloud and Stadia, for example, would have to first submit individual games for review and use only Apple’s payment system.
Microsoft mentioned that it will be transparent about its policies, rules, and marketing opportunities. The company also stated that it will apply its rules objectively, notify about changes, and create a fair process for dispute resolution. Apple, on the other hand, shows a tendency to reject alternative payment systems. Facebook ended up removing mini-games from its gaming app for the App store’s approval.
Microsoft does not need apps to meet particular quality, security, and privacy standards, however, it will apply the same standards to its apps. Moreover, the company will provide developers information on interfaces permitted in its store. Microsoft has also committed to charging a reasonable fee. According to the company, it will reflect the competition Microsoft faces from other stores and not force the developer to sell things it doesn’t want to within the app. The statement comes close to ProtonMail’s reveal that it had been forced to use Apple’s in-app purchase. In another incident, the free WordPress app had stopped receiving updates as it had mentioned that premium plans could be purchased from its website. Even though it could be argued that the term reasonable fees are vague, most companies like Microsoft, Google, etc., have been charging 15-30 percent. Apple has even known to play favorites by waiving the fee for some companies like Amazon for its Prime Video app.
Microsoft has also said that it will not use any information about developer apps if the data is not public only to compete with the app. This could be about Android Lockbox, a project which saw Google monitoring app data of its rivals to make its services. Incidents like these are taken very seriously by the officials of the anti-trust committee.
Rima Alaily, the vice president of Microsoft, said that Microsoft knows policymakers and regulators are investigating these issues and considering legal modifications to promote innovation in digital markets. According to Alaily, these principles and their implementation will be great examples and Microsoft is looking forward to feedback from developers.