Microsoft promises Windows and Xbox app stores will boost competition

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella makes promises ahead of the company’s biggest ever acquisition.

Asa Mathat/Vox Media

When we think of app stores, the ones that usually come to mind are Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android devices, and maybe Amazon’s Fire tablets. But Microsoft said Wednesday it wanted to stand out with a series of “principles” it publicly commits to that it says will promote competition in its app stores.

The tech giant’s Open App Store principles include privacy protections and transparent editorial policies, as well as a promise to hold Microsoft’s own apps to the same standards the company applies to others. Microsoft releases the principles in a bid to weigh in on new laws that are before the US Congress, as well as allay concerns about its own potentially monopolistic size amid its proposal Acquisition for 68.7 billion dollars of video game giant Activision Blizzard.

“Ultimately, we believe this principled approach will foster a more open app market and better serve our users and creators,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

In addition to its principles for its app stores, Microsoft has promised that it will continue to offer the best-selling Call of Duty war simulation franchise, as well as other Activision Blizzard games, on competing devices, such as the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Switch. “We think this is the right thing for the industry, for the players and for our business,” Smith said.

Microsoft’s efforts come at a time when lawmakers, regulators and ordinary citizens around the world are watching closely. The tech industry includes some of the biggest and most powerful companies on the planet. But in recent years, a series of controversies over the spread of misinformation and hate speech have intensified already heated debates over the industry’s approach to privacy, security and other sensitive issues.

Meta, Twitter, Google, Amazon and Apple have all found themselves answering questions before congressional committees that review a wide range of laws, including antitrust and advertising industry reforms, to curb corporate power and possibly punish perceived bad behavior.

Microsoft has largely stayed away, despite being declared a monopoly in a lawsuit two decades ago. But its plan to buy Activision Blizzard, among other major investments in its Xbox video game division, has already raised some concerns.

In many ways, Microsoft’s 11-point set of principles also serves as a critique of other tech industry giants, including Apple and Google, who have faced harsh words about how they control their respective app stores. Microsoft has said, for example, that it won’t require developers to use its payment system for in-app payments, something Apple and Google defendedincluding in lawsuits with fortnite manufacturer Epic Games.

While Microsoft didn’t name Apple or Google directly, it said its rules were written in reaction to the “friction” that exists between developers, gamers and app stores on the web today.

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