Microsoft steps back on controversial app store policies

Microsoft Store in Windows 10
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has delayed plans to enforce additional control over the apps allowed in its app store after an uproar from developers.

The Windows 11 maker had previously announced plans to prevent developers from selling open-source apps that would typically be available for free and from creating browser apps using the Apple WebKit engine. 

The new policies were due to go live this week (July 16 2022), however in response to developers’ dissatisfaction, Microsoft Store General Manager Giorgio Sardo has said that the company will delay these changes.

Developing apps for Microsoft Store

Only Chromium, Gecko or the now discontinued EdgeHTML browser engines were to be supported under the new guidelines, which places Apple’s WebKit among a number of other engines that would no longer be supported. 

Microsoft has previously spoken out about Apple’s iOS App Store browser rule which stipulates that all iOS browser apps should be built on the WebKit engine, rather than the alternatives mentioned above, like the popular Chromium.

The European Union is already preparing to combat this with its Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act, while UK and US equivalents are considering similar moves, all in an effort to instill an industry-wide level of fairness and consistency.

Another key concern regarding the changes that were previously due to take place on July 16 2022 was the financial viability for both sides.

"I am disappointed by the Microsoft Store policy change that prohibits selling open source software," SUSE Rancher Senior Engineering Manager said earlier this week in a Twitter post. "The Store provides independent open source developers an opportunity to create sustainable projects by charging a reasonable amount there."

When asked why open-source apps cannot be sold through its app store, a company spokesperson said in an email to The Register that the “Microsoft Store supports and encourages OSS developers to publish free and unpaid apps, including browsers using other engines.”

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!