This is a weird one. Remember all the confusion and scuttlebutt when Steam introduced its refund policy? Microsoft is introducing a similar one, but approaching it from a somewhat different angle by making refunds a self-service policy. If you meet the requirements, you can get a refund for your software without, ostensibly, going through an approval process.
Digital purchases have always been in a weird territory with regards to refunds. Sometimes you can end up accidentally buying something (which is difficult but it happens), or perhaps someone’s kid makes a purchase of dubious permission. Maybe you simply have buyer’s remorse with a pre-order that turns out to be no good.
So here’s what Microsoft has to offer. Digital software can be refunded under two conditions. One, the refund has to be requested within 14 days of the purchase. Two, across all accounts (Play Anywhere being the qualifier here?), total play time needs to be under two hours. DLC, season passes and add-ons are straight-up ineligible. The refund also has to wait until the day after a game’s release date in the case of new products. Additionally, the game (or app) must be launched before a refund can be submitted.
My take: the key here is details, and the details seem to be laid out in clear fashion. The requirements, the time limits, so on and so forth should be enough to prevent confusion. Abuse is always a problem with these kinds of policies, no matter what they are, and that’s going to be up to Microsoft to figure out. Ultimately it’s a good thing to have refund policies in place. “Buyer beware” is reasonable in most situations but having a safety net for more extreme cases is good business.