Microsoft digs at Apple with 10 principles for app store fairness, but they won’t apply to Xbox

Microsoft published and committed to following a list of 10 principles in its treatment of third-party apps on Windows, capitalizing on the ongoing backlash against Apple over the iPhone maker’s revenue sharing policies and restrictions on cloud streaming services in the iOS App Store.

The commitments include giving developers “the freedom to choose whether to distribute their apps for Windows through our app store,” and promising to allow competing app stores on Windows. In addition, Microsoft said in the post that it “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.”

The principles, published Thursday morning by Rima Alaily, Microsoft deputy general counsel, largely restate Microsoft’s existing practices. The company says it’s building on the ideas of the Coalition for App Fairness, which includes Epic Games, Spotify, Match Group and others that oppose Apple’s practices.

However, Microsoft is openly carving out an exception for the store on its Xbox console, with this reasoning:

Game consoles are specialized devices optimized for a particular use. Though well-loved by their fans, they are vastly outnumbered in the marketplace by PCs and phones. And the business model for game consoles is very different to the ecosystem around PCs or phones. Console makers such as Microsoft invest significantly in developing dedicated console hardware but sell them below cost or at very low margins to create a market that game developers and publishers can benefit from. Given these fundamental differences in the significance of the platform and the business model, we have more work to do to establish the right set of principles for game consoles.

Microsoft’s publication of the 10 principles follows a blistering report this week from the U.S. House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, culminating a 16-month probe into the market power of Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon. The report focused in part on Apple’s monopoly power over the distribution of apps on iOS devices.

Proposed remedies include “Prohibitions on abuses of superior bargaining power, proscribing dominant platforms from engaging in contracting practices that derive from their dominant market position, and requiring due process protections for individuals and businesses dependent on the dominant platforms.”

Some of Microsoft’s principles address the core issues at the heart of Apple’s ongoing dispute with Epic over distribution of Fortnite on the iOS App Store. Microsoft has also clashed with Apple over its attempts to bring its cloud gaming and streaming services to iOS devices.

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