Saturday, December 10th 2011

Your Paid For Windows 8 Metro Apps: Microsoft's Handy Big Brother Kill Switch

Buy into Microsoft's new Windows 8 Metro interface and you'll be buying into considerably more than you bargained for. The Metro interface is extending the idea of walled garden technology eco systems to the very core of the Windows user experience, since it replaces the standard, versatile and open desktop we've all known and loved for over 15 years. And of course, with it comes Big Brother control over the hapless customer. Microsoft is copying the Apple model of an apps store, with their Windows Store where the store vets each application according to their strict rules, takes a massive 30% cut from developer's royalties (like Apple) and has a kill switch (this last part is much like Google and Amazon too, to be fair, which is somewhat bad when you think about it). Despite this remote ability, Microsoft hasn't wasted the opportunity of denying the customer the option of returning any software that they don't like (just like Steam). This might seem to be standard practice. However, consider the fact that software on disc offered no refunds for an opened copy as the possibility to copy the disc and product key existed. That's not the case here though, as they can simply apply their DRM to quietly take it away from you (and just how does one get around this form of DRM and keep their apps?) This information is from Microsoft's latest update to the Windows Store Terms of Use. We analyze the pertinent bits, below:

Near the top of the agreement they have this line, in bold:
Please note that this agreement allows us to remove applications from your Windows 8 Beta enabled device in certain circumstances. See the Can Microsoft remove apps or data from my device? section below for more details.
Sounds a bit worrying, doesn't it? You should be. They then go on to explain exactly how this works. They can take away your apps and/or data from you for your own "benefit" for "security" reasons (of which there's some truth) but the real kicker are those "legal reasons". Yes, so that covers just about anything and everything, doesn’t it? How about some media apps that Big Content, fronted by the likes of the despised RIAA/MPAA doesn't like, perhaps? There goes your app and your content in a flash. Also, it's quite clear that any data stored or processed by these apps is in no way secure, even if you make backups. And guess what? Microsoft have no obligation to return the data to you! Yes, seriously, they can take it away and that's the end of it. Plus, if you simply change your Windows installation in some way that they don't like, they can use this is an excuse to take it away from you too! The upshot of all this is that if you really have to buy into this, then you had better not have anything more important on your computer than something like Angry Birds, where it doesn't matter. Too much. Here's the offending part of the agreement:
Can Microsoft remove apps or data from my device? We may change or discontinue certain apps or content offered in the Windows Store at any time, for any reason. Sometimes, we do so to respond to legal or contractual requirements. In cases where your security is at risk, or where we’re required to do so for legal reasons, you may not be able to run apps or access content that you previously acquired or purchased a license for. In cases where we remove a paid app from your Windows 8 Beta device not at your direction, we may refund to you the amount you paid for the license. Some apps may also stop working if you update or change your Windows 8 Beta device, or if you attempt to use those apps on a Windows 8 Beta device with different features or processor type. You are responsible for backing up the data that you store in apps that you acquire via the Windows Store, including content you upload using those apps. If the Windows Store, an app, or any content is changed or discontinued, your data could be deleted or you may not be able to retrieve data you have stored. We have no obligation to return data to you. If sign in information or other data is stored with an expiration date, we may also delete the data as of that date.
Nice. And what about those software refunds you can't have?
What happens if I don’t want an app I already acquired? Because the Windows Store services begin immediately when you acquire an app, you do not have the right to cancel your purchase once you get the app. This means there is no withdrawal right or "cooling off" period for your use of the Windows Store, and all charges for apps are non-refundable, except as described in this section. Unless the law in your territory requires a “cooling off” period despite this agreement, you waive any right to a “cooling off” period. You may be entitled to a refund if you attempt to purchase an app from the Windows Store or make an in-app purchase processed by the Windows Store, but the app or purchased content fails to install on your device, or if you purchase an app that we later agree was erroneously described in the Windows Store product description page at the time of purchase. You must contact Microsoft customer support (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=232425) to determine if you’re eligible for a refund. If you’re eligible for, and request, a refund, we’ll credit the account associated with your payment method.
So, unless Microsoft is absolutely, totally forced to, there's no way in hell you're getting your money back. Do you still want to buy into this?

This next one's just peachy. Microsoft can just revoke your access rights if they believe that you're in breach of the agreement – but you're still required to pay all charges, naturally:
Can Microsoft change the Windows Store or my access to it? We may change the Windows Store at any time, for any reason or no reason, and we may also cancel or suspend your ability to access the Windows Store if you’re in breach of this agreement. If we cancel your Windows Store service account or your credentials, your right to use the Windows Store stops immediately, but you’re still required to pay all charges already incurred through that account.
Finally, apps bought from the Windows Store are licensed, as would be expected. However, Microsoft only allows up to five installs on different devices. Install it on a sixth device and one of the other copies gets nuked by the long arm of Microsoft. That would be really handy if one of those deleted copies was on a device that you needed to use right now, wouldn't it?
What are my rights for apps I get from the Windows Store? All apps made available through the Windows Store are licensed, not sold, to you. In most cases, that license includes the right to install and use your app on up to five Windows 8 Beta enabled devices simultaneously. If you attempt to install an app on more than five devices, it may be deactivated automatically from one of these devices, so that no more than five instances are activated at any one time.
One can't help but compare this to the Steam service, which is broadly similar, but which is considerably more user friendly, in that they don't impose a limit on the number of "devices" – let's just call it what it is, a computer – and go removing apps you've paid hard cash for, willy nilly off your computers.

This agreement is pretty one-sided and stacked against the user – that's the person who keeps Microsoft's bank balance healthy. It isn't something to attract a prospective customer to a product or service, at all and the reader is encouraged to look at the whole agreement here, to understand its full impact. Perhaps if there's enough of an outcry over this, they'll drop the worst parts of it? This is reminiscient of the Vista installation scandal that allowed reinstallation of the software a mere one time. The outcry this generated caused the company to back down quickly. Curiously, the update date is 2011-10-20, about 6 weeks ago, but news of this is only breaking now, so perhaps it's only just been published on their website?
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72 Comments on Your Paid For Windows 8 Metro Apps: Microsoft's Handy Big Brother Kill Switch

#1
Wile E
Power User
Having experienced this first hand from both Google and Apple, you generally get a refund when they are forced to pull an app. I got a refund on both occasions, and with Apple, the app was already months old.

What MS is doing is absolutely no different than what Apple or Google are doing.

Another ridiculous anti-Microsoft editorial. Please stop posting this crap.
Posted on Reply
#2
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
@[USER=41934]Wile_E[/USER] : Both Apple and Google were taken to task for it. Why should this not be the case for Microsoft? Just because Apple and Google already do it doesn't mean it sits well with everyone.

Just my opinion. :toast:
Posted on Reply
#3
Wile E
Power User
Not sitting well is different than claiming the end of the computer world every time Microsoft changes something or tries something new.
Posted on Reply
#4
Mistral
qubit, man, you sure you don't write for Fudzilla as well? :ohwell:
Posted on Reply
#5
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
pantherx12 said:
But they're not doing that man, developers don't have to use their store, consumers don't have to us their store.

How is that controlling?

It's not like if you have an Iphone and HAVE to use Itunes is it?

Now if Microsoft made it so could only run applications you bought from their store run on windows then hell yeah I'd fully support a fuss being kicked up.

But they haven't and I doubt they ever will.
Well, the Metro interface has been created to replace the standard desktop and you can only use it with apps from the Windows Store, so yes, developers and users will have to use it. They are indeed, trying to "pull an Apple".

Just look at the way they're trying to control who supplies hardware for their ARM-based Windows 8 computers in Microsoft Tells ARM Partners to Pick Notebook Vendors. And if you think it's "just me" with a title like that, this article was written by bta - Microsoft is going for total control, nothing less. There's no other way to put it.

Wile E said:
Having experienced this first hand from both Google and Apple, you generally get a refund when they are forced to pull an app. I got a refund on both occasions, and with Apple, the app was already months old.

What MS is doing is absolutely no different than what Apple or Google are doing.

Another ridiculous anti-Microsoft editorial. Please stop posting this crap.
The answer I explained to Panther, above applies to yourself, too. The fact you got a refund, makes no difference. They took something away from you, didn't they? Of course you got a refund. :rolleyes:

And please don't go calling my articles crap, thanks. That's just trolling and I'd appreciate it if you didn't speak like that - let's keep the conversation pleasant and on topic. No one makes you read them, do they?
Posted on Reply
#6
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
qubit said:
I'm not "anti-Microsoft". I'm anti any company that pulls this control freak shit. This is why I don't like Apple
No, you are anti-Microsoft. So much to the fact that you will blame them for things they aren't even in control of, repeatedly, even after being corrected several times.
Posted on Reply
#7
gourygabriev
As a hard pill it is to swallow, it can't be helped. people didn't care much about it when Apple did it and look how successful thay are doing in controlling their medium. It's one of those things where if people didn't support such ideas, it wouldn't be copied by others.
Posted on Reply
#8
Fx
I wonder what took them so long to come up with this. Apple has been doing this for years

there are a lot of catch-all's in there but stringent controls are always implemented with portals like this for any software

only time will tell how this pans out
Posted on Reply
#9
pantherx12
qubit said:
Well, the Metro interface has been created to replace the standard desktop and you can only use it with apps from the Windows Store, so yes, developers and users will have to use it. They are indeed, trying to "pull an Apple".
Protip : it's not replacing if the standard desktop is still their underneath.

You can switch of the Metro UI, also I'm willing to bet some euros that when windows 8 is out of development other windows application stores will pop up.

"@Pantherx ... it's quite possible that is what Microsoft has in mind. Win8 apps ONLY at the Windows App Store.
We just don't know yet. "

Yeah we don't know that but it's incredibly unlikely, the best thing about windows is that anyone can write a program for it.

People on this forum do it all the time, it would be crazy stupid for MS to kill of their greatest strength. (From a business perspective)

I'm not trying to defend Microsoft I know they make some dick moves but people are getting worried over the potential of something happening.

And frankly that's stupid, I could potentially die whilst squeezing out a poo but I'm not going to live my life in fear over it :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#10
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
newtekie1 said:
No, you are anti-Microsoft. So much to the fact that you will blame them for things they aren't even in control of, repeatedly, even after being corrected several times.
Here we go again... :rolleyes:

Your "correction" was bogus and you went round in ever decreasing circles, so I gave up with you. In fact, later on you actually swapped the argument round and accused me of saying the thing that you were. :shadedshu I showed that thread to some friends and they couldn't believe what you'd done, lol.

As I said, I'm against any company that tries to pull stunts like this.
Posted on Reply
#11
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
Okay, maybe I'm a little confused.
I think that someone will always be able to load 3rd party software on their computer, but I mean "apps".
Isn't the concept of an app store that they are "apps" that integrate into mobile as well as PC?
Aren't the "apps" at an app store aimed at the mobile market?
Posted on Reply
#12
pantherx12
Kreij said:
Okay, maybe I'm a little confused.
I think that someone will always be able to load 3rd party software on their computer, but I mean "apps".
Isn't the concept of an app store that they are "apps" that integrate into mobile as well as PC?
Aren't the "apps" at an app store aimed at the mobile market?
Yes it will be a place to get mobile apps, how ever I don't think Microsoft will only offer cross compatible applications. (It would make sense from a business perspective to allow companies that specialise in desktop only software to utilise the app store)

It will probably tell what hardware you are using and offer relevant applications this way they can maximise their sales and avoid compatibility issues.

Much like how the Android Market is supposed to work :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#13
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
qubit said:
Here we go again... :rolleyes:

Your "correction" was bogus and you went round in ever decreasing circles, so I gave up with you. In fact, later on you actually swapped the argument round and accused me of saying the thing that you were. :shadedshu I showed that thread to some friends and they couldn't believe what you'd done, lol.

As I said, I'm against any company that tries to pull stunts like this.
I never swapped the argument. You have always been of the opinion that Microsoft is behind Secure Boot, and it is their product, and you are dead wrong. You might mention in the article that it is actually a UEFI feature, but you title the article as if it was a Microsoft Windows 8 feature, when it isn't. And if you friends couldn't believe what I had done, why? Because they were amazed that I could make a logical argument that made you look stupid? It really isn't that hard. And I showed your threads to some of my friends, and most of them couldn't believe someone who calls themselves a new reporter would post such opinionated "news articles" without doing even the very basic of research on the subject, such as figuring out who really was behind the features before just blaming Microsoft based on the false opinions that "Microsoft has all the money" and "Windows 8 supports the feature, so Microsoft is at the root of the feature". And they really couldn't believe when you actually tried to counter x86-64 might as well be called a Microsoft invention by your logic argument with "well Microsoft does have 64-bit Edition right in the name"...

And no, you obviously aren't against any company that tries to pull stunts like this. You harped on Microsoft for Secure Boot, but ignored the fact that it was IBM, Apple, AMD, Intel, Lenovo, HP, and Dell that had just as much influence and in fact they were pushing for it long before Win8 started supporting it. And your response to that? "Well we all know Microsoft has the money, so we all know who is really pulling the strings." Really? Because Apple alone has more money than Microsoft, and all those other companies combined have waaaay more money than Microsoft. Yet, you singled out Microsoft? Explain that. The only explanation is you are Anti-Microsoft.

qubit said:
Well, the Metro interface has been created to replace the standard desktop and you can only use it with apps from the Windows Store, so yes, developers and users will have to use it. They are indeed, trying to "pull an Apple".
Oh, and I love your attempt at BS researchless claims to try and some how justify your original anti-microsoft bashing. The "Microsoft has all the money" comment about secure boot, and now this BS to try and justify this anti-microsoft rant.

Sorry, but you don't have to use Metro UI. AND you don't have to use it only with apps from the Windows Store. Any program you install on the computer through the normal method works with the Metro UI. So you have no clue what you are talking about, obviously, and are just making stuff up at this point to help make your anti-microsoft bash seem legit.:shadedshu

It is too bad for you that some people will actually research things, and point out that your claims are complete BS. Try at least doing a little research before making statements, it will help with your credibility as a news reporter.
Posted on Reply
#14
jpierce55
If they do form a "walled garden" t is one way to help develop Linux or some other OS into the world.
Posted on Reply
#15
xtremesv
If Windows becomes a walled garden like Apple's, believe me, it won't last that much :laugh:

Windows "openness" is one of the reasons it became the number one desktop OS in the world, surpassing Mac OS.

I always like to compare Windows vs. Mac OS to Android vs. iOS. Android is quickly becoming the ruling mobile OS in the globe because of its open nature, as this trend persist, iOS will remain as a niche. Microsoft can't afford to lose the market share of its star product and if they were to adopt a business model a la Apple, I think they will be assuming that risk :slap:
Posted on Reply
#16
Steevo
Must be that time of the month for some.


This "news topic" is trash, it applies to BETA software, not public release, and applies to applications from a store for that BETA software, not public release paid for software. BETA.


If you want to argue semantics lets say I wanted to run a virus or a dangerous program and AVG, Avast, MSE, Norton, Kapersky, etc..... removed it. I could then start a thread about how Microsoft removed my software too. But I know it would be BS, everyone else would know it was BS, and it would get closed.



Plus, you aren't forced to purchase any apps, and if you are concerned I'm sure a simple firewall will prevent them, and there are numerous firewalls, hardware and software and many software are even free.
Posted on Reply
#17
Completely Bonkers
Have read quickly through this thread, my comments are:

1./ It is a legitimate concern
2./ I can't see a walled garden in the corporate/enterprise/gvt markets
3./ And not in professional or enthusiast retail either
4./ BUT, and I genuinely believe this, many software companies are devilishly trying to move to a software-as-a-service business model where you license the use and that use is limited by time that **** Windows 8 Lite for free **** could well operate closer to this concept.

W7 Starter was utter tosh. I can imagine a W8 or W9 with a bottom end product for free, with walled garden app store. Brings down the cost of "netbooks" and "webstations" and moves to a more differentiated pay-for-feature product.
Posted on Reply
#19
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
pantherx12 said:
Protip : it's not replacing if the standard desktop is still their underneath.

You can switch of the Metro UI, also I'm willing to bet some euros that when windows 8 is out of development other windows application stores will pop up.
Yes, of course you can switch it off - for now, since Microsoft cannot change things overnight. Notice how to turn it off though, you have use to a registry hack. Kinda discouraging, isn't it? And I don't buy the beta status argument for why this should be, as a button to switch between them is trivial to implement and takes a couple of minutes. In the finished product, this switch may be present, but Windows 8 will be wholly geared to use the damned Metro interface, making the current one difficult to get to and/or use.

One has to read between the lines with things like this and see where Microsoft is trying to push things (my point about the ARM vendors in an earlier point is part of this "lines reading", to get the whole picture). Unfortunately, people such as NT just can't see this/don't want to see this/have shares in Microsoft etc and start getting a bit rude, accusing me of lots of ridiculous things etc and get all worked up about it, so I don't bother debating it past a certain point.

I think CD's post is very plausible:

Completely Bonkers said:
Have read quickly through this thread, my comments are:

1./ It is a legitimate concern
2./ I can't see a walled garden in the corporate/enterprise/gvt markets
3./ And not in professional or enthusiast retail either
4./ BUT, and I genuinely believe this, many software companies are devilishly trying to move to a software-as-a-service business model where you license the use and that use is limited by time that **** Windows 8 Lite for free **** could well operate closer to this concept.

W7 Starter was utter tosh. I can imagine a W8 or W9 with a bottom end product for free, with walled garden app store. Brings down the cost of "netbooks" and "webstations" and moves to a more differentiated pay-for-feature product.
I don't quite agree with point 2 though, judging by the pathetic spending decisions I see by government, all the time. I think it's quite easy to get one over them. :shadedshu Savvy corps, not so easy.
Posted on Reply
#20
pantherx12
Dude, you just click the desktop button on the Metro UI and you get regular windows .... (and since developers already know how to develop for this, why the hell would Microsoft bother adding a button to permanently switch off the they want people to develop for?)

The registry hack is if you never want to see the metro UI I.E completely disable it ( The metro UI is just the new start menu NOT the new desktop)

Have you even used the preview man?
Posted on Reply
#21
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
DannibusX said:
I get it, you hate Steam.
It's not clear if you're referring to me? Assuming you are, then no I don't hate Steam, or I wouldn't have bought over 100 games on that platform. It is, however, one of the few forms of DRM that I will tolerate.

pantherx12 said:
Dude, you just click the desktop button on the Metro UI and you get regular windows .... (and since developers already know how to develop for this, why the hell would Microsoft bother adding a button to permanently switch off the they want people to develop for?)

The registry hack is if you never want to see the metro UI I.E completely disable it ( The metro UI is just the new start menu NOT the new desktop)

Have you even used the preview man?
Oops! I stand corrected. :) Yes, I've used it for a bit a while back and obviously I had confused the purpose of the registry hack over time. I still think my wider point that MS is trying to push towards this closed model is valid, though. As ever, "time will tell".
Posted on Reply
#22
pantherx12
I still don't think it will be a closed model, it would put Microsoft out of business then we really would be left with a closed model.

Microsoft KNOW it's greatest strength is allowing any one to develop and create for the windows platform.

It's the very reason why there are so many programs for windows man.

But I can see that it's what you believe that's all fine and all but I don't feel a news post is the place for this kind of opinion as it's all based on speculation.

And I do appreciate you are concerned and you are trying to inform people about what you think could be a problem but you just keep jumping to conclusions dude.

Jumping to conclusions is not news.

Hope you see I'm not trying to have a go, just sharing my concerns too ;)
Posted on Reply
#23
Mussels
Moderprator
both apple and steam and just about any other service do this as well.


for example, if you pay for an app that turns out to be a copyright or trademark breach, they'll need to be able to remove it from your device (and hopefully refund you)
Posted on Reply
#24
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
pantherx12 said:
I still don't think it will be a closed model, it would put Microsoft out of business then we really would be left with a closed model.

Microsoft KNOW it's greatest strength is allowing any one to develop and create for the windows platform.

It's the very reason why there are so many programs for windows man.

But I can see that it's what you believe that's all fine and all but I don't feel a news post is the place for this kind of opinion as it's all based on speculation.

And I do appreciate you are concerned and you are trying to inform people about what you think could be a problem but you just keep jumping to conclusions dude.

Jumping to conclusions is not news.

Hope you see I'm not trying to have a go, just sharing my concerns too ;)
Thanks for a great post and I really appreciate the highlighted bits especially. :toast: I love constructive criticism and you're welcome any time.

Perhaps you're right and it won't be quite the horror story that it looks like to me - and I bloody hope you're right and I'm not! However, reading such a dreadful agreement and looking at the general trend, it looks like MS is trying to do an Apple here. I'm not stating this as a categorical fact, just that the indication looks pretty strong to me and also to other news sites.

Sure, they very well know that it's the open nature of their platform that got them their success. However, that doesn't prevent the possibility of them thinking that maybe now they can tighten the noose. Or put it another way, lots of dumb executive decisions have been made by all sorts of companies and I don't think MS is immune from this, either.

Regardless of trends though, this agreement on its own is pretty awful, so I make no apology in reporting it with that tone, in really getting that point across - and lets face it, it also makes the article much more interesting. ;) And the fact that other companies make agreements like this too, as some people here pointed out, actually means the situation is worse not better. It simply means that shit like this spreads like a cancer and it's what we really don't want.
Posted on Reply
#25
TRWOV
qubit said:

As I said, I'm against any company that tries to pull stunts like this.
That's a standard legal boilerplate. Peruse each loan, insurance or lending contract you've got over the years and you'd read similar stuff. Here, take a look at TPU's ToS:
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Hate on.
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