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

Tuesday, 6th 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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11 Comments

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  1. Cobra951

    It seems to me the solution is simple, if unlikely. No third-party developer should submit to the Microsoft yoke. They should continue business as usual. It’s even the path of least resistance: continue to produce Windows apps in the customary fashion. Ignore the Microsoft store entirely. If no one shows up, there is no party.

    If they submit, and give up their power, they have no one to blame but themselves for a bleak future.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. DarkElfa

    @1, I think you’re kidding yourself if you think that 3rd parties will pass up selling their stuff on Win 8 in order to help kill it and their lively hood off.

    Sure, the bigger groups might, but the independent guys will jump at it, just look at all the hoops and restrictions iOS has and they still perform like circus monkeys for their bananas.

    Face it, there are no more people with solid principles left.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. TehStu

    I see what he’s getting at, but is it a problem or a potential problem? There’s already bit torrent and (blatantly illegal) manga apps on the store. Doesn’t look like the process is extremely strict, at the moment?

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Cobra951

    @2, pass on selling? Of course not. They can sell all they want. They just don’t have to do it through Microsoft’s ripoff avenue. Traditional Windows apps can still be sold independently, even under Win 8.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. alterecho

    As #2 said, why not just ignore the win 8 store?

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Maximum Payne

    And why would I need games in my tiles ?
    I can launch them from desktop just like before…

    #6 2 years ago
  7. roadkill

    “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.” And to think that there are still people who keep supporting Microsoft (and it’s closed platform) in trying to kill innovation just so they can make more money. Dumb f**ks!

    #7 2 years ago
  8. The Auracle

    “It would be nice to have a common hub to download things from,”

    But… don’t you already have Steam for that, Ladavac? What about OUYA? Ubuntu and various other distributions of Linux? There are all these other platforms for third-parties to go through and yet they know where most of the money is won: ‘walled gardens.’ Because while everyone using Linux instead of Windows or Mac OS would be ideal, it’s not realistic. Not when MS alone has that vast majority of the computer OS market share.

    I appreciate where Alen is coming from but [A] you can install Steam on Windows 8 machines; [B] Steam is still turning over money faster than my nan can flip pancackes; [C] Support for Windows 7 hasn’t been killed off yet.

    Comment #2 was bang on the money: moan about Windows 8 all you want, but devs know where the money is.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. dizzygear

    Who in their right mind would use Metro apps on their desktop/laptop anyway? Its an awful experience. Microsoft can keep their tiles on the windows store for all i care.

    If their so deadset against the store and its certification than dont use it.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. roadkill

    @9 And even if you’d want to use Metro apps you can already do that in Windows 7.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. TheWulf

    I’ve talked about the problem of Windows 8 before. The issue basically boils down to systems in place that could allow them to do some fairly terrible things.

    Issue #1: UEFI – which locks PC hardware into using a Windows OS (making them more closed than Mac hardware). When this comes to pass, Linux OS developers will have to buy a license from Microsoft.

    The problem: Microsoft could choose to stop selling licenses.

    Issue #2: There are systems in place in Windows 8 for software signing. Like we’ve never seen in Windows before. This means that Microsoft is able to certify things for their store.

    The problem: A service pack for Windows 8, or Windows 9, could make simple changes to the OS to disallow non-signed software from being installed.

    Will Microsoft do either? We don’t know. But the fact that they’ve rolled in this potential, both of these things at the same time, is more than a little worrying. It makes the hairs stand up at the back of my neck. There’s just something very no about all this.

    It’s almost like they’re gearing up for a big perception shift with their Windows OS. Gabe Newell is usually pretty good at seeing the long forecast, at understanding the big picture, and I think that what worries me is what worries him.

    But that he’s this worried makes me think that at some point Microsoft is going to make some very, very bad decisions.

    They might not, but they might.

    And because of that, I’m not touching Windows 8 with a bargepole.

    #11 2 years ago