In the ongoing legal war between Apple and Epic Games over the removal of Fortnite from iOS platforms and Apple’s perceived anti-competitive practices, Microsoft has made statements of support to Epic in the past, noting the importance of Epic’s work in gaming on every platform. Recently, Microsoft seemingly took another, bigger jab at Apple with the launch of a new set of Microsoft Store guidelines.
Microsoft posted its list of 10 principles for the Microsoft Store on Windows on the Microsoft Blog on October 8, 2020. Preceding the post, Microsoft had already put out a statement of support for Epic Games’ injunction against Apple removing all Epic content from Apple platforms, including access to Unreal Engine. As of this recent post, Microsoft chose to make its stance firmer.
“For software developers, app stores have become a critical gateway to some of the world’s most popular digital platforms,” Microsoft wrote. “We and others have raised questions and, at times, expressed concerns about app stores on other digital platforms. However, we recognize that we should practice what we preach.”
Today we filed a statement in support of Epic's request to keep access to the Apple SDK for its Unreal Engine. Ensuring that Epic has access to the latest Apple technology is the right thing for gamer developers & gamers https://t.co/72bLdDkvUx— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 23, 2020
With that in mind, Microsoft’s 10 principles, spurred and shaped by the work of the Coalition for App Fairness, seems to be a sensibly rational array of guidelines by which its store intends to operate. It also just happens to fly in the face of a lot of Apple’s own store policies on top of the initial jab.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- We will give developers timely access to information about the interoperability interfaces we use on Windows, as set forth in our Interoperability Principles.
- 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.
- 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.
- Our app store will not prevent developers from communicating directly with their users through their apps for legitimate business purposes.
- Our app store will hold our own apps to the same standards to which it holds competing apps.
- Microsoft will not use any non-public information or data from its app store about a developer’s app to compete with it.
- 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.
Given that Apple has often put a “blanket 30% cut” at the core of its policies regarding its apps (unless it's Amazon), it’s easy to take Microsoft’s new policies of charging “reasonable fees,” not blocking “competing app stores,” and the distinct promise not block an app based on “developer’s choice of which payment system to use,” as a direct shot at Apple. They further drive it home in saying that, “Unlike some other popular digital platforms, developers are free to choose how they distribute their apps.”
Whether it’s actually support of Epic Games seems nebulous since Microsoft don’t mention any companies by name, but it definitely seems as though Microsoft has had some grievances with Apple’s ongoing business practices. As Epic and Apple continue their legal battle, it feels like this isn’t the last time we’ll hear of Microsoft’s engagement in the matter.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, Microsoft's new store guidelines seemingly take a shot at Apple & support Epic
This is all nice in writing, but the fact is Microsoft can't control how apps are distributed in Windows. If they did, you would see a rioting in the streets. It's not a closed system and it cannot be. Too much corporate money involved in Windows licensing/etc. So this is basically saying "We know you don't need our store, but hey, it's here..."
It's specifically about app sales and distribution on the Microsoft Store, but I really do think it was always far more about taking a slap at Apple than really shooting for goodwill with customers.
Remember back when the MS Store launched and all the neckbeards (including Tim Sweeney) freaked out that Microsoft was going to lock everything down? Having this stuff written down is good to point those people at.