A new set of “app Store principles” includes a commitment to support conventional app and game installations. […]
Although Windows is one of the most popular proprietary software solutions in the world, it is an open platform. Anyone can create and distribute programs that run on Windows in more or less any way, including direct downloads, proprietary app stores such as Steam and Epic, or distribution through the Microsoft Store built into Microsoft. In a blog post outlining a set of principles for this store, Microsoft reaffirms its commitment to supporting old-fashioned standard software installations.
The blog post is long, but the essence of the statement about the support of open and unrestricted installations can be found here:
We will continue to allow developers to decide whether they want to provide their applications for Windows via our app Store, via the store of another provider or directly via the Internet as a sideload.
The context of the post is clearly the ongoing discussion – and litigation – about closed and semi-closed mobile app store platforms. This was publicly fought between the Fortnite publisher Epic, the Android manufacturer Google and Apple, the administrator of its completely closed app store. One could also make a rather convincing argument that closed digital storefronts for consoles, including Microsoft’s own Xbox, fit into the same category. According to Microsoft, Xbox consoles are not the same type of specialized computing devices, so these principles will not apply. The Xbox will continue to be a closed platform.
The renewed commitment to free and open software support under Windows is in stark contrast to macOS, where Apple has been pushing more and more developers into the proprietary App Store since switching to ARM-based hardware. It is probably also a relief for many Windows users who have been watching closely in recent months as Microsoft pushes its users more and more towards Windows 11 and its Edge browser.
A few more relevant highlights from the blog post are:
- Microsoft will allow third-party payment processors and communication systems in the Microsoft Store, eliminating the main point of contention in the legal dispute between Epic, Google and Apple.
- Microsoft will not require developers to offer more favorable terms for apps in the Microsoft Store than in other stores (note that the wording here means that you CAN require developers to offer EQUALLY favorable terms).
- Microsoft will allow developers to communicate directly with customers about pricing and offer other products or services.
- Windows will continue to support third-party app store platforms such as Steam.
- The above principles apply to the Microsoft Store on Windows, not the Xbox platform.
Microsoft also assures that as the new publisher of the popular Call of Duty series and other games after the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, it will continue to make the existing series available for PlayStation in the future, beyond the existing agreement, and that it is interested in supporting Nintendo consoles in the same way. This is a brave attitude of a company that not only owns its own gaming platform, but has also bought into the role of one of the largest publishers in the world.