Microsoft declares new app policies in appeal to regulators

Daniel Sims

Posts: 448   +18
Why it matters: Given the historic size and influence of Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition, it makes sense for the Redmond giant to release a statement assuaging regulators' concerns. Most of what it's saying here sounds like a response to politicians' comments about Apple, with a noticeable caveat for game consoles.

This week Microsoft put out a blog post listing a set of commitments regarding how it handles software on its platforms. For the most part, the promises are geared toward user privacy and fairness towards developers. Microsoft opens by saying it understands the necessity of regulation, pointing out how it has spent decades adapting to antitrust law. It acknowledged that its $68.7 billion deal to acquire Call of Duty and Overwatch maker Activision Blizzard attracted some attention from the US Federal Trade Commission.

Microsoft promises to respect users’ privacy, try to be transparent about how ads work on its stores, and won’t give preference to its first-party software over third-party offerings. That latter part seems like a response to the controversy Microsoft caught last year when it made it harder for Windows 11 users to switch from its Edge web browser.

The last four commitments pledge to keep Windows open by not forcing developers onto the Microsoft Store or forcing them to use Microsoft’s payment processing. These seem like a more direct response to the court case between Apple and Epic games over how Apple requires all iOS and iPadOS software to go through the App Store and regulatory actions against Apple’s policies.

Microsoft reiterates explicitly its promise to keep Call of Duty games on PlayStation through its current deal with Activision, which lasts through the next three games. It even said Call of Duty games will still be on PlayStation beyond that agreement, though in what form remains unclear.

Microsoft claims it is committed to open platforms, yet the Xbox is just as much a walled garden as Apple's App Store. Here, the Redmond giant distinguishes between general-purpose platforms like PCs or mobile devices and "specialized computing devices" like game consoles, countering that they depend on software revenue to make up losses from hardware sales.

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Posts: 2,203   +4,239
Notice how they said absolutely nothing about what percentage of all software/game sales through xbox or their windows store they get: They want you to focus on that Netflix and Epic part: Sure we will let you charge subscriptions directly!

But the bigger part is still 30% of everything anyone sells through their store fronts and that's omitted, likely intentionally.


Posts: 4,142   +5,770
Microsoft taking about protecting privacy is like a ferret talking about protecting the hen house. They went above and beyond in helping the government spy on their users and are still doing so today. Windows 11 tries to bully you into using a Microsoft account even harder than Windows 10 does. I'm in the process of switching to Linux once and for all and I can't wait to leave Bill's Ministry of Truth in the rear view mirror. Also, ditch Firefox if you haven't already - Mozilla is starting to make good on its plans to add spyware that monitors any political speech they don't like.


Posts: 1,321   +1,103
Microsoft is a company without ethics, where profit is far more important than consumer privacy and rights. Legalese coding the shaft is their way.
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