Tim Sweeney Labeling Windows Cloud as Ransomware is Premature

Tim Sweeney Labeling Windows Cloud as Ransomware is Premature

Published: February 8, 2017 11:00 AM /


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Epic Games’ very own Tim Sweeney posted a few tweets yesterday to his Twitter profile speaking out against the unannounced Windows Cloud OS Microsoft are developing, saying that the new flavor of Windows 10 is "ransomware." Let’s see if Tim Sweeney is basing that on anything more than a preliminary look at the unannounced version of Microsoft's operating system.



That does sound bad, especially when you consider the tweets that followed:


It definitely sounds alarming. Indeed, one of the things you want your OS to do is run your favorite programs. This version of Windows reportedly locks users out of using apps that weren't installed from the built-in store, a decision that evidently angered Sweeny enough to vent his frustrations on Twitter. Last week, an early build of the OS, which is based on Windows 10, was leaked to the Internet via a Russian download website, and it seems to be a version of the OS meant to directly compete with notebooks running Google's Chrome OS.


Chromebooks differ from other types of laptops due to an OS that primarily operates via a constant connection to the Internet, allowing users to use webapps instead of native programs running on the device itself. Your files and webapps all exist in the cloud, making Chromebooks an inexpensive device you can use if you have a stable internet connection.

The Windows Cloud OS reportedly achieves similar functionality while simultaneously retaining the familiar Windows UI. The reason why Sweeney is upset over Windows Cloud is because it locks users to the built-in Windows Store, removing the ability to install regular (non-Windows Store) apps to the device running the OS. Trying to install a regular app to the device rewards you with an error saying that the app you're trying to install is not designed to run on this version of Windows. Ultimately, it comes down to this:



That's definitely scary at a glance, especially if you're planning on using it on your home PC. However, it's too early to break out the pitchforks! The people over at Digital Trends took a plunge into the unknown and installed the leaked ISO onto a virtual machine, and what they found isn't even close to as dire as Sweeney would like to make us believe. His anger towards the OS seems a little unjustified at this point, especially when you consider the following:

The Settings app in this build of Windows 10 is a little different than what we see on current Anniversary Update machines. It now includes new “Apps” and “Games” subcategories, the former of which contains settings that were originally listed in the “System” subcategory: Apps and features, Default apps, Offline maps, and Apps for websites.

Thus, when users go into Settings > Apps > Apps & features, the first setting they will see defines where users can purchase apps. There are two settings: Allow apps from the Store only, and Allow apps from anywhere. Did you catch that? Windows 10 Cloud will allow users to install apps from outside the Windows Store.

While this option is already included in this build, it doesn't work at the moment. It might be because the functionality has already been removed and they haven't removed the option from the menu yet, but it's also just as likely that Microsoft is still ironing out the kinks in this feature before its official unveiling in the not too distant future. Microsoft also gives developers the option of converting their Win32 desktop apps to UWP apps people can download off the Windows Store. Reports that this is because Windows Cloud can't handle Win32 desktop applications seem to be inaccurate, although running converted apps is currently not working as intended. Then again, this is unreleased, unannounced software so problems are to be expected.

Another thing Sweeney brought up was that the OS held regular apps ransom until you decide to shell out for Windows 10 Pro. I've looked around for any evidence to support that claim but I didn't manage to find any. The only thing I can think of is that Sweeney mistook Windows Cloud not running Win32 apps as a quick and dirty scheme to push people to buy the most expensive version of Windows 10. The inclusion of the option to install Win32 apps in the OS's settings menu makes that unlikely, though.


You also need to consider that this version of Windows isn't meant for home PCs or gaming rigs, nor is it meant to replace your current, fully-featured version of Windows you're running now; it's meant to be an OS for cheap and lightweight notebooks and netbooks. You won't be using this OS to develop or play games, nor is it particularly suited for either developing or running VR games and applications. Although Sweeney seems to be getting worked up over nothing at this point, it doesn't mean that he will be wrong about this forever. It's entirely possible Windows would want complete control over what you can and can't install by forcing users to use the Windows Store exclusively. It might happen, but until then it's all just hypothetical.

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