Yesterday, Microsoft posted a list of their “10 app store principles”, in what reads like one big passive aggressive jab at Apple. They say these principles are designed to “promote choice and ensure fairness” on their Windows Stores (both mobile and desktop), and they include rules about just generally treating app developers fairly.
These are nice and good principles to stick to, yes. But the entire post doesn’t seem as though it’s really to assure devs, so much as it is to make very clear whose side they’re on in the whole Apple vs Epic debacle.
If you’ve somehow missed these mega corporations throwing hissy fits at each other, this all started when Epic tried to circumvent Apple’s app store payment system by putting their own system inside the Fortnite app. Naturally, Apple kicked ’em off the store, Epic made a dodgy propaganda video because they knew it might happen, and they’ve been going at each other through their lawyers ever since.
Microsoft filed a statement in support of Epic back in August, so it was already pretty obvious who they were backing. Now, their new “10 app store principles to promote choice, fairness and innovation” takes as many potshots at Apple as it can.
“For software developers, app stores have become a critical gateway to some of the world’s most popular digital platforms. 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,” Microsoft say.
The principles include things like not blocking apps “based on a developer’s business model”, and allowing devs the choice of whether or not to distribute apps through the Windows Store. “We will not block competing app stores on Windows,” they say, from way up on their high horse.
Then there’s my personal favourite, which says: “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.”
I don’t even know what to say about it. In my head Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is reading it off a big ye olde scroll while smiling sweetly and staring directly into Tim Cook’s eyes. I do admire that the company got through the whole post without saying “unlike those losers at Apple” at every opportunity, though. Shows a lot of restraint.
Of course, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has a lot of support to show for Microsoft’s lovely principles.
Epic Games has proudly supported Microsoft operating systems since 1991, and it's wonderful to see Microsoft formally codify its long-held principles in Windows as an open platform and a fair market for all developers and consumers. https://t.co/XOhfW5CJ0y
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) October 8, 2020
The latest development in the Apple vs Epic Games showdown saw both companies agree that they’d like their cases to be tried by a court, rather than a jury. The trial in question will cover an anti-trust lawsuit Epic filed against Apple about their control of the App Store, while Apple’s countersuit is based on Epic breaking their terms of service to bypass the store’s payment system.