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Epic Games co-founder Tim Sweeney (who’s studio has worked with Microsoft on titles like Gears of War) had some choice words for Microsoft today

 Sweeney blasted Microsoft in an op-ed piece for The Guardian, taking to task the company for their current initiative for their Universal Windows Platform, or UWP. According to Sweeney, it is the most “aggressive” move Microsoft has ever made, because their UWP would effectively turn Windows 10 into a closed platform, locking down the PC games market and monopolising app distribution in favor of Microsoft.

To clarify, Sweeney is not arguing against Microsoft’s Windows Store, what he objects to is how they are utilizing their UWP. “My view is that bundling is a valuable practice that benefits users,” he states in his op-ed. “[and] My criticism is limited to Microsoft structuring its operating system to advantage its own store while unfairly disadvantaging competing app stores, as well as developers and publishers who distribute games directly to their customers.”

According to Sweeney Microsoft has essentially prevented outside downloads for UWP apps. Basically, anything purchased, updated or downloaded directly from a publisher, developer, or online website is locked out, leaving all purchases in the hands of Microsoft’s Windows Store. It is possible to work around this, with a process called “side-loading”, but Sweeney points out that Microsoft can one day remove the ability to side-load apps entirely through Windows 10’s mandatory, automatic updates if they wish.

Sweeney compares this to how Google utilizes android apps. While android app stores can allow players to download apps outside of Google Play, Google effectively obscures other app stores through their own search engines, hiding them from view to force the market to make purchases with Google Play directly. 

Sweeney offers some thoughts on maintaining true openness on the Windows 10 platform for programs such as games. One of his common sense solutions is treating UWP apps as any other Win 32 applications. Win 32 is the API that programmers use for developing 32-bit applications and is a core function of most windows programs. Sweeney is concerned that a focus on the UWP would lead to Win 32 no longer being maintained as a focus on the more closed UWP would overtake it as Microsoft’s primary concern. By converting them over, Sweeney would also like to see other stores allowed to distribute UWP apps digitally, such as Steam, GOG, and Origins. 

For Sweeney, the point of this is to keep the internet neutral ground for PC gaming and commerce. “Here, Microsoft is moving against the entire PC industry- including consumers (and gamers in particular), software developers such as Epic Games, publishers like EA and Activision, and distributors like Valve and Good Old Games”

In response to Sweeney’s comments, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of windows, Kevin Gallo, has replied back, stating:

“The Universal Windows Platform is a fully open ecosystem, available to every developer, that can be supported by any store. We continue to make improvements for developers; for example, in the Windows 10 November Update, we enabled people to easily side-load apps by default, with no UX required.

We want to make Windows the best development platform regardless of technologies used, and offer tools to help developers with existing code bases of HTML/JavaScript, .NET and Win32, C+ + and Objective-C bring their code to Windows, and integrate UWP capabilities. With Xamarin, UWP developers can not only reach all Windows 10 devices, but they can now use a large percentage of their C# code to deliver a fully native mobile app experiences for iOS and Android.”

So what are your thoughts on this? Is Sweeney right, or is he blowing it out of proportion? Leave your comments below.

Robert Grosso

Staff Writer

A game playing, college teaching, erudite-minded scholar who happens to write some articles every so often. Have worked as a journalist, critic, educator and blogger for over five years now, with articles published (as user editorials) on Game Revolution and Giant Bomb as well as a contributor for the websites Angry Bananas and Blistered Thumbs. Now making TechRaptor my home.