Microsoft has published and committed to following a list of 10 principles in the treatment of third-party apps on Windows, and taking advantage of the ongoing setback against Apple over the iPhone maker’s revenue sharing policies and restrictions on cloud streaming services in the iOS App Store.
The obligations include giving developers “the freedom to choose whether to distribute their apps for Windows through our app store”, and promise to allow competing app stores on Windows. In addition, Microsoft said in the post that it “will not block an app from Windows based on a developer̵
The principles, published Thursday morning by Rima Alaily, Microsoft’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, largely reflect Microsoft’s existing practices. The company says it builds on the ideas of the Coalition for App Fairness, which includes Epic Games, Spotify, Match Group and others that oppose Apple’s practices.
However, Microsoft is open to cutting out an exception for the store on the Xbox console, with this reasoning:
Game consoles are specialized devices that are optimized for a specific use. Although they are highly loved by their fans, they are largely smaller than the market for PCs and phones. And the business model for game consoles is very different from the ecosystem around PCs or phones. Console manufacturers like Microsoft invest significantly in developing dedicated console hardware, but sell them at cost or at very low margins to create a market that game developers and publishers can benefit from. Given these fundamental differences in the importance of the platform and the business model, we have more work to do to establish the right set of principles for game consoles.
Microsoft’s publication of the Ten Principles follows a gruesome report this week from the U.S. House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, which culminated in a 16-month investigation into the market power of Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon. The report focused in part on Apple’s monopoly power over the distribution of apps on iOS devices.
Proposed solutions include “Prohibition of abuse of superior bargaining power, prohibit dominant platforms from participating in contract practices that come from their dominant market position, and require sound process protection for individuals and companies that depend on the dominant platforms.”
Some of Microsoft’s principles address the core issues at the heart of Apple’s ongoing dispute with Epic over the distribution of Fortnite on the iOS App Store. Microsoft has also clashed with Apple over its attempts to bring cloud streaming and streaming services to iOS devices.