Like most companies with a digital storefront available to third parties and customers, Microsoft has a robust "App Developer Agreement" in place that governs how developers will make their content available to customers via the Microsoft Store. The company usually updates this document once or twice a year in accordance with the ever-changing tech landscape. It has now published a new version of this agreement which will be applicable towards the end of this month, and it contains some interesting tidbits of information.
The Microsoft App Developer Agreement was updated on June 28, 2021, and will be applicable from July 28, 2021. The agreement is now at version 8.7, an increment from version 8.6 released on July 10, 2020. You can view the 51-page document over here in full if you are so inclined, but for the sake of brevity and your convenience, we have highlighted all of the major changes compared to the previous version below:
- The definition of a "game" has been expanded to include "game-streaming or gaming subscription apps" as well.
- The definition of "Store" has been updated to include services which allow customers to purchase content from Microsoft-operated storefronts.
- There are explicit references of the "Microsoft commerce platform" and "Microsoft commerce engine" for billing systems operated by Microsoft. Sections mentioning billing systems were quite vague previously.
- Microsoft maintains that it does not claim any ownership of apps that you submit to the Store, but you do give it the rights to distribute, host, and reproduce them, among other things. However, moving forward, the company has explicitly highlighted that the latter does not apply to material under free and open-source software (FOSS) licenses. If your app's code is licensed from third-parties or is under a FOSS license, you are solely responsible for ensuring that you comply to the license's terms.
- Developers are now allowed to use secure third-party commerce engines, but only for the distribution of "non-games". Games sold on any device as well as all apps on Xbox still have to use Microsoft's commerce engine. We already know that Microsoft will not take a cut from apps which utilize third-party commerce engines. That said, the company has cautioned that any such platform has to comply with its certification requirements. Furthermore, the Redmond tech giant will not be responsible for collection and remittance of tax if you do not use Microsoft's commerce engine. It will be your responsibility to send customer tax invoices as governed by applicable local laws.
- Microsoft will give developers an 88% revenue cut for games sold through the Microsoft Store on PC following August 1, 2021. This is something we have been aware of since April 2021.
- As always, Microsoft will deduct any refunds and chargebacks from your submissions in the Store, but the terms have now been updated to highlight that you are "solely responsible" when this happens.
- New terms and agreements have been added for Win32 apps and Edge extensions in order to incorporate them into the Microsoft App Developer Agreement.
This is the first time that the Microsoft App Developer Agreement has been updated in almost a year, and as can be seen above, it takes into account many of the company's announcements from its Windows 11 event a few days ago. The changes listed will be effective from July 28, 2021.