Microsoft Announces New Open App Store Rules Amid Global Scrutiny

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Amid growing scrutiny over Apple and Google app store policies, Microsoft has announced a new set of Open App Store principles that will apply to the Microsoft Store on Windows and to the next-generation marketplaces it will build for games as the tech giant starts the process of seeking regulatory approval for its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

According to Microsoft President and Vice-Chair Brad Smith, the company wants regulators and the public to know that as a company, “Microsoft is committed to adapting to these new laws, and with these principles, we’re moving to do so”.

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Smith said that Microsoft would also build its next-generation game store based on these new principles, which will also apply to the store on the Xbox console.

While change is not easy, we believe it’s possible to adapt to new rules and innovate successfully. And we believe it’s possible for governments to adopt new tech regulation that promotes competition while also protecting fundamental values like privacy and national and cyber security, – he stressed in a blog post late on Wednesday.

Microsoft said the Open App Store Principles are “grounded in app store legislation being considered by governments around the world”, including the US and the European Union (EU).

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The new Open App Store principles will enable all developers to access the Microsoft app store as long as they meet reasonable and transparent standards for quality and safety.

“We will continue to protect the consumers and gamers who use our app store, ensuring that developers meet our standards for security,” said Smith.

“We will hold our own apps to the same standards we hold competing apps. We will not use any non-public information or data from our app store to compete with developers’ apps.”

On fairness and transparency, he said that Microsoft will treat apps equally in its app store “without unreasonable preferencing or ranking of our apps or our business partners’ apps over others”.

“We will not require developers in our app store to use our payment system to process in-app payments,” he added.

“We will not prevent developers from communicating directly with their customers through their apps for legitimate business purposes, such as pricing terms and product or service offerings”.

Smith said that Microsoft will continue to give developers timely access to information about the interoperability interfaces for Windows that its own apps use.

“We will enable Windows users to use alternative app stores and third-party apps, including by changing default settings in appropriate categories.”

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