Microsoft Outlines its App Store Principles

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read
Microsoft Outlines its App Store Principles

10 app store principles to promote choice, fairness and innovation - Microsoft Blog

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. So, today, we are adopting 10 principles – building on the ideas and work of the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) – to promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation on Windows 10, our most popular platform, and our own Microsoft Store on Windows 10:

The snarkier among us will say something like, "duh, they are only doing this becuase they are a smaller part of the market, if they were number one then they wouldn't suggest any of this!"

I hear you, I see you, but that's entirely the point.

As companies get larger and gain more power in the market, they inherently also gain the ability to control their users more and more. When you're small, you can do more customer-friendly things because you are smaller.

This isn't cheating, it's fundamentally how markets work and how smaller players break through and become the big players. Apple was able to shake up the phone world in 2007 precisely because they were small. They did the right things and consumers caught on much faster than Apple's competitors (all of whom were much bigger smartphone players) caught on or pivoted to match Apple.

So today when Microsoft is seen as a smaller player in app store distribution of software, they are able to make similarly positive moves that attempt to draw more people to their side.

And let's look at some of the things they are saying here:

1. Developers will have the freedom to choose whether to distribute their apps for Windows through our app store.
2. 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.
3. 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.
6. 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.
9. Microsoft will not use any non-public information or data from its app store about a developer’s app to compete with it.

If these ideals draw more users and/or developers to Microsoft's platforms, then that will put pressure on Apple and Google to match them. If they don't, then don't expect Apple or Google to feel much pressure. Either way, I think any response to this that's cynical about Microsoft's motivations in doing this is missing the mark.