“Microsoft has no right to impose its certification regime on software obtained outside of its store”

Tim Sweeney’s five steps to fixing Microsoft’s UWP

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has continued his campaign against Microsoft’s seemingly restrictive Universal Windows Platform.

Last week, he described Windows’ new platform has an "embarrassing fiasco", claming it was part of Microsoft’s attempt to lock down the PC ecosystem.

In a new opinion piece on VentureBeat, the industry veteran further detailed his issues with the new Windows system, claiming that while Microsoft insists UWP is an open ecosystem, the requirement for every app developer to go through the firm’s certification process suggests otherwise.

“In an open UWP ecosystem, all sources of software would exist on equal footing — Microsoft’s Store, Valve’s Steam service, Adobe Creative Cloud, and the numerous developer web sites that provide software,” Sweeney writes. “And Windows would provide all developers with equal access to the Operating System features and services that are available to Windows Store itself in managing UWP applications.

“Every maker of every store [should be] free to curate their shops however they like, and if they choose, then to require a certification process that considers quality or content. Microsoft in operating the Windows Store has the right to do this, but not the right to impose its certification regime on software obtained outside of its store.”

Sweeney went on to suggest five ways in which Microsoft could change the Universal Windows Platform and make it more open to developers:

  • Allow users to install UWP apps from any source, including the internet.
  • Allow UWP apps to be digitally signed by their developers using open Certificate Authority services – similar to used for win32 and the web – rather than forcing devs to register with Microsoft.
  • Allow third-party stores to install and update UWP apps
  • Do not restrict internet connectivity for third-party apps, or the ability for devs and users to “engage in commerce directly outside of Microsoft’s store architecture”
  • Use “install” terminology, rather than “side-loadings”, which Sweeney claims implies Microsoft “[views] third-party software as second-class citizens”.

He concludes: “I believe that Microsoft needs to make a clear, CEO-level commitment to the industry on the open future of the PC and UWP, if it does indeed intend for there to be an open future. Lacking that, I believe it would be foolish for the world’s major developers and publishers to adopt this new technology based on mere assumptions about plans that Microsoft has not itself stated with technical clarity.

“The past decade of Microsoft’s churn in strategies and executives has seen the release of a major platform that prevented apps from connecting to non-Microsoft services on the Internet (Xbox 360), new PC app formats that were by default closed to non-Microsoft-approved apps (WinRT in Windows 8 and UWP in Windows 10), and a Microsoft-branded Windows PC (Surface RT) that were closed to all win32 apps except Microsoft Office. It is a rational industry response to have a degree of distrust over Microsoft’s intentions.

“Clear Microsoft statements and actions on UWP could mark the return of developer and publisher trust in Microsoft.”

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