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Microsoft announced a series of 11 promises regarding the App Store and fair treatment with developers, but will not apply 4 main ones to its Xbox store.
As governments around the world pressure Apple and Google to regulate their platforms, Microsoft has announced what it calls “a principled approach to app stores.” Specifically designed to fit “before regulation”, Microsoft says its 11 principles address its “growing role and responsibility” in the market since its acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
“[Too] a lot of friction exists today between creators and gamers,” says Microsoft. in a blog post“The policies and practices of app stores on mobile devices limit what and how creators can offer games and what and how gamers can play them.”
“Our significant investment to acquire Activision Blizzard further strengthens our resolve to remove this friction on behalf of creators and gamers,” he continued. “We want to make it easier for world-class content to reach every gamer across all platforms.”
“Put simply, the world needs open app markets, and that needs open app stores,” Microsoft says. “The principles we are announcing today reflect our commitment to this goal.”
Open App Store Principles
What Microsoft calls its Open App Store Principles are 11 commitments that fall into four categories:
- Quality, safety, security and confidentiality
- Fairness and transparency
- Developer’s Choice
Promises in these categories include those such as allowing all developers access to the store and protecting consumers with security and privacy tools. Microsoft says it will “hold our own apps to the same standards we hold for competing apps” and, by implication, avoid the anti-steering criticism Apple has faced.
Of the 11 commitments, Microsoft says only its first 7 will apply to the Xbox store. This means that Xbox will not benefit from any of the Developer Choice categories.
The promises in this category all revolve around payment systems, which is at the heart of the main criticisms from Apple and Google.
“[Some] may ask why today’s principles don’t immediately and broadly apply to today’s Xbox console store,” Microsoft says in its blog post. “It is important to recognize that emerging legislation is being written to address app stores on the platforms that matter most to creators and consumers. : PCs, mobile phones and other general purpose computing devices.
“Emerging legislation is not written for specialized computing devices, like game consoles, for good reasons,” he continues. “Game consoles, in particular, are sold to gamers at a loss to establish a robust and viable ecosystem for game developers.”
Microsoft concludes by saying that “we recognize that we will need to adapt our business model even for the store on the Xbox console”, and that it will “narrow the gap…over time”.