Serious Sam developer rails against “Walled Garden” of Windows 8

Tuesday, 6 November 2012 01:24 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Croteam chief technical officer Alen Ladavac has spoken out strongly against Microsoft’s Windows 8 certification system, which he believes represents a dangerous step towards the world of console gaming.

“Gabe Newell did not overreact. What you don’t see here is that, under the hood, the new tiled UI is a means for Microsoft to lock Windows applications into a walled garden, much like the one on iOS,” Ladavac said, letting loose on the Steam forum.

“There is this ‘small detail’ that Microsoft is not advertising anywhere, but you can find it dug deep in the developer documentation: one cannot release a tiled UI application by any other means, but only through Windows Store.”

Calling this rule “horrible”, Ladavac said it’s not just that users will not be able to source software directly from creators or third-parties.

“If it was just about ‘being downloaded from Windows store’, it would not be a problem. It would be nice to have a common hub to download things from,” he said.

“But to get an app onto that store, it has to be certified by Microsoft. This means bringing the ‘console experience’ onto your desktop. Each app that you will get through the Windows Store will have to adhere to certain requirements imposed by Microsoft.”

The dev said Microsoft has already banned modding, and he harbours fears for Open Source, but even if it did not impose such restrictions, Microsoft’s new process would still introduce all the pitfalls of certification.

“Uncertain release dates, rare and late patches, and everything turning out to be more expensive and sucking more,” he said.

“Theoretically, desktop applications are exempt from these requirements, it looks more and more like just a foot-in-the-door technique. A large number of developers have expressed their concern with possibility that, probably in Windows 9 or something like that, the ability to get even desktop apps in any other way than through Windows app store may very well be removed. When that happens it will be too late.”

At present, Windows 8 does support external sourcing of non-tiled apps, but Ladavac expressed further fears that elements of Windows 8’s classic UI are part of a system of teaching users to like the tiled UI, which could eventually lead to a reliance on apps shipped through the Windows Store – thereby forcing developers to abide by the certification process.

“Certification is a broken concept and should be abolished,” he declared.

“It is a vicious circle. And not an accidental one. This one was carefully designed to be that way. I say: no thank you, I’ll skip on that one.”

This isn’t the first time Windows 8’s certification system has raised gaming ire; its decision to block mature rated games had to be reversed after it was found to cause territorial discrepancies. Ladavac noted that he is yet to see any actual policy changes with regard to this revision.

Thanks, Polygon.

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