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Microsoft wants to monopolise games development on PC. We must fight it


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With its new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) initiative, Microsoft has built a closed platform-within-a-platform into Windows 10, as the first apparent step towards locking down the consumer PC ecosystem and monopolising app distribution and commerce.

 

In my view, this is the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made. While the company has been convicted of violating antitrust law in the past, its wrongful actions were limited to fights with specific competitors and contracts with certain PC manufacturers.

 

This isn’t like that. 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.

 

Microsoft has launched new PC Windows features exclusively in UWP, and is effectively telling developers you can use these Windows features only if you submit to the control of our locked-down UWP ecosystem. They’re curtailing users’ freedom to install full-featured PC software, and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers.

 

 

Link to the full article: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/04/microsoft-monopolise-pc-games-development-epic-games-gears-of-war

Edited by ktchong
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One of the reasons I won't be upgrading to Windows 10, I think. While people are saying Windows 10 aren't all that bad, but the stuff I've heard about it... like a lot less privacy, weird security, etc.

 

It's quite a thing on the internet right now.

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We went through some of this in the Random Video Game News thread.  Phil Spencer is saying the platform will be open and won't prevent developers from putting their game on other stores.  You'll have to excuse me if I am suspicious and don't take Microsoft at their word until it's been shown that UWP is indeed open, I've head enough FUD and BS from Microsoft over the years to fill several memoirs.  If nothing else, I am convinced that UWP is going to be used to try to put the kibosh on Vulkan, much the same way Microsoft successfully crippled OpenGL back in the day when they made the original XBOX and threatened to remove OpenGL support from Windows, forcing developers to use DirectX if they wanted to continue to put games on Windows.  They never did actually remove OpenGL support, partially because several prominent developers called their bluff and refused to stop using OpenGL, but the scare tactic was enough to get a bunch of developers to drop OpenGL and move to DirectX.  In fairness, after that Khronos didn't do OpenGL any favors when they scrapped plans to streamline OpenGL 3, like they originally planned and instead stapled more extensions onto the big pile of cruft OpenGL had become and DirectX 10 & 11 became much better APIs to work with than OpenGL 3.x and 4.x because they were so much cleaner.  Still, it was largely the original scare tactic that kneecapped OpenGL at a time when OpenGL was the dominant API and DirectX was trying to became dominant.

Edited by Keyrock

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I am all for openness of UWP, but I am bit curious what is point to demand openness of cross/multi device platform only on one of the device types. I see quite little benefits if you can install freely UWP apps on PC but if you actually need the cross device/platform functionalities you need to submit your app to Windows Store and Dev Center.

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I am all for openness of UWP, but I am bit curious what is point to demand openness of cross/multi device platform only on one of the device types. I see quite little benefits if you can install freely UWP apps on PC but if you actually need the cross device/platform functionalities you need to submit your app to Windows Store and Dev Center.

The fear is that MS will cease support of Win32 over time, and this will enforce their store as the only option on Windows. This isn't unlikely how they removed DOS from their platform in the early Windows days. I don't think Valve or Tim Sweeney care if the Windows store is required on tablets or Xbox, but only if it is required on PC because it goes against everything that built MS's empire to begin with. It also allows anti-competitive power against other Windows stores: Steam, GoG, Origin, Uplay, Battle.net, etc. It can also inhibit personal sales of any dev's product. It is a slippery slope.

 

Let's not forget that this API likely requires DX12 as well, and that will inhibit competition from Vulkan.

 

In the end I don't the it is so much what are the benefits vs what kind of power it gives MS to leverage a war with a portion of its Windows reliant 3rd party developers in order to siphon their business. It is a scary proposition.

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I am all for openness of UWP, but I am bit curious what is point to demand openness of cross/multi device platform only on one of the device types. I see quite little benefits if you can install freely UWP apps on PC but if you actually need the cross device/platform functionalities you need to submit your app to Windows Store and Dev Center.

The fear is that MS will cease support of Win32 over time, and this will enforce their store as the only option on Windows. This isn't unlikely how they removed DOS from their platform in the early Windows days. I don't think Valve or Tim Sweeney care if the Windows store is required on tablets or Xbox, but only if it is required on PC because it goes against everything that built MS's empire to begin with. It also allows anti-competitive power against other Windows stores: Steam, GoG, Origin, Uplay, Battle.net, etc. It can also inhibit personal sales of any dev's product. It is a slippery slope.

 

Let's not forget that this API likely requires DX12 as well, and that will inhibit competition from Vulkan.

 

In the end I don't the it is so much what are the benefits vs what kind of power it gives MS to leverage a war with a portion of its Windows reliant 3rd party developers in order to siphon their business. It is a scary proposition.

 

 

That is quite silly fear. This isn't really similar to DOS thing, because DOS was one of their two operating systems and they decides stop developing DOS and focus on operating systems using their NT kernel that they deemed to be much better. Although soon as they did that leap they realized their NT kernel is also pile of **** and they reworked it to new NT kernel that was first seen in Windows Vista.  But any way it is silly fear because it would mean that MS would remove support from millions of windows applications and those applications are reason why Windows dominates OS markets. So it they drop support for old apps they just give opportunity for Apple, Google, etc. companies to take over PC OS market at least steal some market share. 

 

And we can see in Mac OS that even Apple hasn't been able to tie all software sales to iTunes.

 

UWP lets you use Win32 API in your apps so you don't need to use DX12 on PC apps.  And you can make UWP apps that use Vulkan on PC and DX12 on Xbox One.

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I mean similar to DOS in execution more than the details of the situation. They let it survive side by side with Windows for many years, and one day it was gone. UWP and Win32 can survive side by side for now. Maybe permanently, but it is more likely that it will be phased out like DOS.

 

I am not too sure Apple will ever be in the position to steal certain parts of the PC community. Gaming being one of them. They are expensive with limited hardware options. They have crappy hardware, and their OpenGL support is usually years behind, and Vulkan (if supported) will likely lag as well.

 

Google is mostly ARM focused, and I don't know if they care much about x86 much past ensuring Chrome is competitive.

 

Valve's Linux push could swoop in of course.

 

I am not saying you are wrong and that this fear is silly, but MS has an anticompetitive streak. MS aslo has a history of BEing less than honest to the PC gaming market. So the lack of trust in this community particularly is understandable. From GfWL to statements along the lines of "We have some interesting stuff for our PC gamers in the near future" that lead to nothing. PC gamers have had little to thank MS for in the past 20 years with the exception of DirectX, and DX benefits MS more than gamers in the end.

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I mean similar to DOS in execution more than the details of the situation. They let it survive side by side with Windows for many years, and one day it was gone. UWP and Win32 can survive side by side for now. Maybe permanently, but it is more likely that it will be phased out like DOS.

 

I am not too sure Apple will ever be in the position to steal certain parts of the PC community. Gaming being one of them. They are expensive with limited hardware options. They have crappy hardware, and their OpenGL support is usually years behind, and Vulkan (if supported) will likely lag as well.

 

Google is mostly ARM focused, and I don't know if they care much about x86 much past ensuring Chrome is competitive.

 

Valve's Linux push could swoop in of course.

 

I am not saying you are wrong and that this fear is silly, but MS has an anticompetitive streak. MS aslo has a history of BEing less than honest to the PC gaming market. So the lack of trust in this community particularly is understandable. From GfWL to statements along the lines of "We have some interesting stuff for our PC gamers in the near future" that lead to nothing. PC gamers have had little to thank MS for in the past 20 years with the exception of DirectX, and DX benefits MS more than gamers in the end.

 

GfWL seem to come up lots with this even though it is great example how little effort MS has been in past willing to put in to take over PC gaming market.

 

In phasing out DOS it wasn't sudden decision by MS but something that took over 10 years and even no they offer environments that can run dos applications and applications that were made for Windows apis running above DOS. There are even companies that get support from MS to their DOS based systems (because over 21 years isn't anything when it comes to manufacturing machines (making software for those companies is quite interesting challenge sometimes))

 

And one thing that will cause problems for MS if they want to monopolize PC app selling market, is that they have virtual monopoly in PC operating systems and therefore such efforts would seen as preventing competition by using their monopoly state. Of course I can't say for sure but I would bet that MS isn't willing risk again getting billions euros and dollars worth fines from EU and USA like they got form their stunts with Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.

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I guess I should be careful in what I wish for, huh? I wanted another party to come in and at least splinter the market a little and break up Valve's dominance of the AAA-space. But not like this.

L I E S T R O N G
L I V E W R O N G

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I am all for openness of UWP, but I am bit curious what is point to demand openness of cross/multi device platform only on one of the device types. I see quite little benefits if you can install freely UWP apps on PC but if you actually need the cross device/platform functionalities you need to submit your app to Windows Store and Dev Center.

One of the fears is that UWP will make it artificially difficult to port games outside the Microsoft ecosystem and if the system is closed, what's to stop Microsoft from doing exactly that?  They could never make it impossible, but UWP could utilize unnecessary proprietary software that would make it that much harder for a developer to port their game to Vulkan or OpenGL or whatever in order to get their game on PS4, Wii U, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android, etc.  This may seem paranoid except Microsoft has tried (with a good bit of success) to squash competing APIs before through a combination of FUD, misinformation, and strong-arm techniques, so there is precedent.  

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@Elerond - I don't disagree with what your saying.

 

I am only saying the slow phasing out of Win32 could be like DOS. That's it. They make a new API, make it more potent then Win32, lock it to their store, let Win32 atrophy with Time, when adoption of new API is high enough then stop supporting Win32.

 

Microsoft could argue that with the onset of the mobile market and Apple and Google's dominance there that they aren't a monopoly like the old Netscape days. They have a decent argument as well. So, I wouldn't be so sure they wouldn't risk billions to potentially turn their store into the "only" store, or even the only full featured store by limiting their competitors applications. Since if they won they would probably make much more money than they stand to lose. It isn't like a loss here would bankrupt the company. They have some money lying around.

 

I am always hesitant when big companies make big moves that look even a little shady. IMHO, it is better to be a little paranoid than to trust these big companies to do what is best for their consumers vs what is best for the bottom line. I don't want the PC game industry to be sideswiped. To each their own though.

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