Microsoft have been pushing hard with Windows 10 and their efforts to unify their various platforms under one banner and with plenty of common ground between them. So the Xbox One runs with Windows 10 technology underneath the hood, Windows 10 itself continues in its predecessor’s vein of running on both desktops and tablet, and we have the recent spate of Xbox One exclusives also making their way to PC.
However, writing in The Guardian, Epic Games’ cofounder Tim Sweeney has set out his stall against one key part of this, the Universal Windows Platform and its demands of software developers. A key point is that he’s not against Microsoft having a Windows Store, nor their attempts to unify and bridge the gap between console and PC, but rather the potentially damaging effect that this can have on PC gaming.
He writes, “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.”
Further, he’s concerned that Microsoft will continue to develop UWP at the expense of the established win32 equivalents. Such a move would effectively force developers toward using UWP and a new closed garden, without the current freedoms that they have. So he calls upon them to change tack.
If UWP is to gain the support of major PC game and application developers, it must be as open a platform as today’s predominant win32 API, which is used by all major PC games and applications. To the PC ecosystem, opening UWP means the following:
- That any PC Windows user can download and install a UWP application from the web, just as we can do now with win32 applications. No new hassle, no insidious warnings about venturing outside of Microsoft’s walled garden, and no change to Windows’ default settings required.
- That any company can operate a store for PC Windows games and apps in UWP format – as Valve, Good Old Games, Epic Games, EA, and Ubi Soft do today with the win32 format, and that Windows will not impede or obstruct these apps stores, relegating them to second-class citizenship.
- That users, developers, and publishers will always be free to engage in direct commerce with each other, without Microsoft forcing everyone into its formative in-app commerce monopoly and taking a 30% cut.
It’s a rather damning piece from a major figure in the games industry, and one who has been talking directly with Microsoft about this potential issue for the last 18 months. It’s well worth a read, and a fascinating insight into where Microsoft seem to be heading over the next few years, for better or for worse.
Source: The Guardian