Update: Microsoft has issued a statement confirming that self-serve refunds are now being tested. "Earlier today, we enabled self-serve refund pilot testing for digital content via the Xbox and Windows Insider Programs and this testing is presently limited to select Insider members," a rep said. "Insiders can learn more about the criteria for claiming digital refunds via the Insider Hub."
Valve updated the Steam refund policy a couple of years ago, enabling refunds for just about anything—including DLC, pre-purchases, and even Steam wallet funds—for any reason. And now, according to a Windows Central report, Microsoft is finally, mostly, following suit. A message sent out to members of the Xbox Insiders program today revealed plans to launch a self-service refund program for "digital products" purchased for Xbox or Windows 10 through the Microsoft Store.
"You've spoken; we've listened. In support of offering gamers the freedom of choice, we're making changes to the Microsoft Store purchase experience by offering customers a simple way to instantly return digital products like games and apps through account.microsoft.com," the message says. "When a game or app leaves you wanting more, we're here to help. Self-service refunds on Xbox One and Windows 10 provide a quick, simple way of returning a digital product."
The process sounds almost entirely painless: Simply go to your Microsoft Store account, select Payment and Billing from the top menu, and then click on Order History. After that, just find the relevant purchase, and select Request a Refund.
Of course, there are some restrictions. Refunds will only be granted on purchases less than two weeks old, and with less than two hours of usage, but you'll have to download and launch them at least once, and wait at least one day after a game's launch, before requesting a refund. DLC and season passes are not eligible for self-serve refunds, and some Windows 10 apps may not work with the system either. Microsoft also reserves the right to block access to self-serve refunds in cases where it's being abused.
So it's not as all-encompassing as Steam's refund system, but it's still a huge step in the right direction. Most people are going to be far more willing to take a chance on a marketplace if they're confident of an easy refund, should the experience blow up in their faces. It may not be a compelling reason to make the Microsoft Store your first-choice shop for all things digital, but it's one less reason to avoid it.
There's no indication as to when self-service refunds will go live, but I've emailed Microsoft for more information, and will update if and when I receive a reply.