Tim Sweeney’s Concern over Microsoft Policies

Posted on 05 Mar 2016 by
Nail Garejev

The appearance of a curated and restricted Microsoft Store on Windows 8 have made many people suspicious about the future of Windows. Valve was first to react to a potential threat to their game store by launching their own fork of Linux – SteamOS. Now, after the release of several large games on Windows 10 store, Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney has shared his concerns in Guardian op-ed. Sweeney’s main concern is the MS exclusive control over the distribution of the software using the new UWP (Universal Windows Platform).

“The specific problem here is that Microsoft’s shiny new “Universal Windows Platform” is locked down, and by default it’s impossible to download UWP apps from the websites of publishers and developers, to install them, update them, and conduct commerce in them outside of the Windows Store.

It’s true that if you dig far enough into Microsoft’s settings-burying UI, you can find a way to install these apps by enabling “side-loading”. But in turning this off by default, Microsoft is unfairly disadvantaging the competition. Bigger-picture, this is a feature Microsoft can revoke at any time using Windows 10’s forced-update process.“

Such restrictions on distribution would make Windows gaming more limited in the future in a manner similar to the situation on iOS. Contrary to Sweeney’s claims, situation on Android is not as dire. The option to sideload apps is a simple switch in the options and the alternative app stores are present, including game centric ones. Epic’s founder also stresses the importance of actions, not promises to keep game developer’s trust. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer was quick to respond on twitter:

While Microsoft’s promises are somewhat encouraging, there is a reason for caution. They previous announcements and actions in regards to PC gaming fell short. So far, games released on Windows Store also have many other restrictions with negative impact on gamers’ experience. As Microsoft encourages publishers to use UWP to make their games run on both Xbox One and PC, unless system changes quickly, it may cripple a lot of benefits of PC gaming.

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