Microsoft Store: New policy prohibits rip-offs with open source software

In the Microsoft Store there are always programs that are actually free, but cost money there. This is often open source software. With a new policy, Microsoft wants to put a stop to people who cash in this way.

An actually free open source program appears in the store and costs money there, and the store app does not come from the developer himself. The moral classification of such an action is easy, it is sneaky and brazen rip-off – not only towards the users, but also and above all towards the developers, who are deprived of their well-deserved wages in this way.

From a legal point of view, however, this is not always so clear. Depending on the license under which an open source program was published, the makers of such store apps operate in a gray area, which is why Microsoft could not simply throw these apps out in many cases. The most famous example in the recent past is the program Audacity – the developer was forced to publish the original due to the many duplicates in the store – of course free of charge.

With the revision of Microsoft Store Policyeffective July 16, 2022, will now introduce a rule allowing Microsoft to remove such apps from the Store.

Point 10.8.7 states:

No attempt may be made to profit from open source software or other software that is otherwise generally available free of charge

Regardless of legal classifications, Microsoft will be able to throw such programs out of the store. Strictly speaking, this also “forbids” a model that some open source developers have introduced in the past: They offer their free program with identical functionality in the Microsoft Store for money and ask satisfied users to buy the store version to support them with it. The graphics program Paint.NET is distributed in this way, for example, but the developer prominently points out this fact everywhere. I don’t think Microsoft will do anything about it because of the new policy.

Point 10.8.7 also contains a clause that prices for an app must not be “unreasonably high” in relation to its function.

All upcoming store policy changes can be made on this page see. Also new is that the certificate for the digital signature of installation routines with the extension .exe or .msi must come from a publisher that participates in Microsoft’s Trusted Root Program.

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