Windows 11: Microsoft nudges Apple with speech about app stores

Last week’s Microsoft event had more highlights beyond Windows 11. At the end of the presentation, which featured several transmission failures, CEO Satya Nadella gave an important speech about community and freedom.

The presentation made by Panos Panay, CPO of Microsoft, brought all the news of the new operating system. Towards the end, Nadella said that Windows “has been a democratizing force for the world.” Also, that it drives consumers, businesses and creators.

But the CEO also listed Windows as a platform, supporting the sense of community. At the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft brought to the public the idea that Windows had become a service — and that it would even be the “last version” of Windows.

Although he didn’t direct his speech, we can relate this speech to the current moment of big techs, where Apple and Google face lawsuits and investigations about their app stores being or not a monopoly in the US and European countries.

Preview of the new Microsoft Store is now available in the first Windows 11 beta.

For example, in the Windows Store, Microsoft will allow app developers to keep all the revenue generated by the store as of July 28th. This rule, although not applicable to games, is relevant in the current context:

None of this is a coincidence and all cases involve app stores with relevant user bases. The discussion about fees has been gaining notoriety after Epic Games started to charge directly to its players, skipping this stage of the stores.

As a result, the Fortnite game was banned from the App Store — and Google Play — and the case remains in an unsolved trial. Microsoft, which has already expressed its outrage against Apple in the xCloud case, sided with Epic.

Things change, but many stories also meet. In the 1990s, Microsoft was accused of monopoly favoring Internet Explorer over Netscape’s browser.

Where is the community?

“Windows has always represented sovereignty for creators and agency for consumers,” said Nadella. “We need to be empowered to choose the apps we run, the content we consume, the people we connect with and even how we divide our attention.”

“A platform can only serve society if its rules allow for this fundamental innovation and the creation of categories. That’s why we are introducing new models and commerce policies for the store, creating new opportunities”, he says, citing compatibility with Android apps.

“Windows has always represented sovereignty for creators” — Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.

Nadella also highlights three pillars in this change:

  1. “There is no personal computing without personal agency” because “personal computing requires choices”.

  2. “Windows is the creation stage in the world”, which “is undergoing a radical change as the balance between consumption and creation changes”.

  3. “Windows is not just an operating system; it’s a platform for platform builders”

In his speech, he also claims that Windows 11 brings “a renewed sense of the role Windows plays in the world” to Microsoft. Globally, according to data from Statcounter, Windows represents 73% of the market share of computer systems today.

And where does Apple fit into this story?

The point is that no developer should create an app store and disseminate their creations and ideas to a platform that belongs to giant companies. It is these ideas that drive and make electronic devices relevant to the user’s daily life. After all, the App Store itself was launched after the first iPhone debuted on the market.

More recently, Apple also released a report explaining why it is against installing apps from sources other than the App Store itself. This speech was also reinforced recently by Tim Cook, CEO of the company. Here, it is related that users’ security can be put at risk.

As a practical example, we can mention the developer of the Delta emulator. To distribute his app, Riley Testut also needed an alternative to the App Store, so he created the AltStore. The store currently houses some apps that can be installed without going through Apple’s scrutiny.

Also noteworthy: Apple makes a lot of money from the App Store. In 2020 alone, the store generated US$64 billion in sales — in 2019, it closed with US$50 billion. Microsoft’s action may not impact those numbers, not now. But it’s a strong message for Apple and Google — and perhaps even stronger for developers.

Apple App StoreApple’s app store is investigated on suspicion of monopoly in some regions.

At the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft brought to the table the idea that Windows had become a service rather than a product. Now, in the new version, it starts to be treated as a platform. At the end of the presentation, Nadella even brought a sense of community to the ecosystem. And that seems to have been aimed at Apple.

Like Android, iOS and Windows, their respective stores must also be offered as a service. This one, available for independent and non-developers, large or small businesses and consumers.

“Today, the world needs a more open platform that allows apps to become platforms on their own.” Something like Windows itself, explains Nadella, which is “where things bigger than Windows can be born, like the web.”

Now, it remains for us to follow the investigations and trials that take place in the US and Europe against large technology companies.

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