Epic Games co-founder Tim Sweeney has launched an attack on Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform (UWP) initiative. In a powerful op-ed piece, published by The Guardian today, Sweeney called the UWP initiative "the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made," in locking down the consumer PC ecosystem and monopolising app distribution and commerce. Sweeney called for developers to oppose UWP, "or else cede control of their titles" to Microsoft.
First of all I think it's best to briefly sum up what Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform (UWP) initiative is. Windows 10 apps and games don't use the regular win32 .exe format but reside in a Microsoft controlled walled garden style framework. It's a platform within the Windows platform inspired by Microsoft looking jealously at Apple's Appstore, iTunes and so on, and all the revenue these services generate. Currently within the UWP users can't source games and apps from the websites of publishers and developers, to install them, update them, and conduct commerce in them outside of the Windows Store. Microsoft takes 30 per cent of the cash from Windows Store transactions.
Microsoft appears to have structured the Windows 10 OS to the advantage of its own built-in store "while unfairly disadvantaging competing app stores," accuses Sweeney. The Epic Games co-founder requests that Microsoft opens up the PC UWP so that "top third-party games and signature applications that define the PC experience," can find a place in the Microsoft Store. He opines that the current Windows Store is an embarrassment due to the lack of 3rd party signature apps and doesn't help developers or end users as much as it could due to this. If the opening up of UWP doesn't happen Sweeney wants to see it "die as a result of industry backlash".
Fuelling Sweeney's attack is an apparent "series of sneaky manoeuvres" by Microsoft in its communications about UWP. He says that Microsoft seems to have been listening and paying lip service to his games industry concerns but "Microsoft’s intentions must be judged by Microsoft’s actions," and it seems to have made the first step in changing the open PC ecosystem into a "closed Microsoft-controlled distribution and commerce monopoly".
Are Sweeney's protestations made genuinely on behalf of the Windows games and app developers out there, or simply sour grapes over the Windows Store fees? Please let us know your thoughts, in the comments section below.