Microsoft is throwing down the gauntlet in the app store market, releasing a set of “Open App Store Principles” that take aim at Apple and Google.
Apple and Google have increasingly come under scrutiny for how they run their respective app ecosystems, the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Epic sued both companies in an effort to force major changes, including the ability to use external payment systems and sideload apps. Although Epic lost, a majority of US states are backing its appeal.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Open App Store Principles are a declaration of how Microsoft will manage its digital ecosystem, and seem to address many of the complaints Apple and Google are facing. Company President Brad Smith also makes it clear the company hopes this action will help ease any regulatory issues surrounding its attempt to acquire Activision Blizzard, a deal that is already being reviewed by the FTC.
Today we’re announcing a new set of Open App Store Principles that will apply to the Microsoft Store on Windows and to the next-generation marketplaces we will build for games. We have developed these principles in part to address Microsoft’s growing role and responsibility as we start the process of seeking regulatory approval in capitals around the world for our acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Whatever the motivation, the company has outlined 11 principles, as well as three commitments. These include not locking developers into Microsoft’s payment systems, treating apps equally, not using private information to compete with third-party apps, holding its own apps to the same standard as everyone else, and respecting people’s privacy, among others.
Smith also makes it clear that, not only will Microsoft honor existing agreements for Call of Duty on PlayStation, but the company will keep the franchise on Sony’s console into the future, beyond the current agreement. Smith says the company is also make similar arrangements to continue supporting Nintendo’s platform. The news should come as a relief to gamers concerned that Microsoft would hoard Activision’s top titles, making them Xbox-exclusives.
It remains to be seen if Microsoft’s overtures will influence legislators and regulators but, at this time, it’s certainly more than either Apple or Google have been willing to concede. That alone may keep Microsoft out of the line of fire, when it comes to any future regulatory action.