Microsoft has allowed third-party storefronts into its app store, and its move will make Apple squirm because Epic Games is among the first to use the new facility.
A revision to Microsoft Store policies published on September 28th added a Section 10.1.6 that states:
Microsoft won't accept any old storefront: section 10.1.6 also states "Your storefront must offer a comprehensive catalog of content of sufficient size (a minimum of 20 distinct products, excluding downloadable content and in-app products or offers) to provide a unique and valuable user experience."
As explained in a blog post by Microsoft Store general manager Giorgio Sardo, third-party storefronts will get the same treatment the Microsoft store offers to apps, even though Microsoft won't take a cut of sales it facilitates.
"Just like any other app, third-party storefront apps will have a product detail page that can be found via search or by browsing – so that users can easily find and install it with the same confidence as any other app in the Microsoft Store on Windows," he writes.
The first two third-party storefronts – to debut "over the next few months" – will be those operated by Amazon.com and Epic Games.
Yes, that Epic Games, the company that is fighting Apple for the right to use its own payment systems to sell in-app digital tat rather than being forced to use Apple's payment platform and share a hefty cut of its take for the privilege.
Apple has argued that letting third-party payment systems into the App Store would represent horrible risk for its customers.
Microsoft clearly doesn't share that opinion – despite Windows being a platform with a shall-we-say "colourful" history when it comes to security, and iOS being about as firmly locked-down as any platform, ever.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted his approval, writing "Microsoft is again leading the industry forward with Windows, now an open platform with an open store."
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Other news revealed in Sardo's post includes the debut of a revised Microsoft Store on October 5th – the same day as Windows 11.
The Store will also gain two new browsers – Opera and Yandex – in line with Microsoft’s policy to let developers deploy their preferred browser engines.
Sardo also confirmed that Progressive Web Applications – which make it easier for browser-based apps to access files – have made it into the Store, among them Reddit, Wikipedia, TikTok, Lyft, and Tumblr.
The new Microsoft Store policies also include Section 11.13 governing Third Party Digital Storefronts Content, which spells out other requirements including provision of terms and services documentation, plus content guidelines, and a means to report violations. Another compulsory item is "a method for review and detection of content that is in violation of your terms or guidelines and take enforcement actions". ®