On June 16, 2022, Microsoft updated the Microsoft Store policies. One of the changes prohibits publishers from charging fees for open source or freely available software. Another example is the store’s use of irrationally high pricing. If you’ve been to the Microsoft Store in the last few years, you’ve probably noticed that it’s becoming more and more home to open source and free products. While this would be beneficial if the original developer had uploaded the apps and games to the store, it is not the case because the uploads were made by third parties.
Worse, many of these programs are only available as paid applications rather than free downloads. In other words, Microsoft customers must pay to purchase a Store version of an app that is free elsewhere. In the Store, free and paid versions coexist at times. Paying for a free app is bad enough, but this isn’t the only problem that users may encounter when they make the purchase. Updates may also be a concern, as copycat programs may not be updated as frequently or as quickly as the source applications.
In the updated Microsoft Store Policies, Microsoft notes under 10.8.7:
In cases where you determine the pricing for your product or in-app purchases, all pricing for your digital products or services, including sales or discounts, must:
Comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and regulatory guidelines, including the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides Against Deceptive Pricing. You must not attempt to profit from open-source or other software that is otherwise freely available, nor should your product be priced irrationally high in comparison to the features and functionality it provides.
The new policies are confirmed in the updated section. Open source and free products may no longer be sold on the Microsoft Store if they are generally available for free, and publishers may no longer charge irrationally high prices for their products. Developers of open source and free applications may charge for their products on the Microsoft Store; for example, the developer of Paint.net does so. Many applications will be removed from the Store if Microsoft enforces the policies. Developers could previously report applications to Microsoft, but the new policies give Microsoft direct control over application listings and submissions.