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
Mussels
Moderprator
qubit just shot himself in teh foot there, working for TPU XD
Posted on Reply
#2
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Mussels said:
qubit just shot himself in teh foot there, working for TPU XD
No I didn't. ;)

Nice quote there, TRWOV. It doesn't actually change anything about what I said and I can't be bothered to explain it over and over. However, I'll just say this: the basic gist of this is that it looks like MS is trying to funnel buying all software through it's Windows Store, thereby imposing these sorts of terms and conditions where they didn't exist before on the Windows platform. This is a Bad Thing.
Posted on Reply
#3
TRWOV
I know that it doesn't change anything, I'm just saying that every contract in the planet is one sided and stacked against the user. MS is no exception to this. And those terms didn't exist before because there wasn't a Windows App Store. Doesn't mean that they will delete your apps overnight if you look at them wrong.

Cheers! :toast:
Posted on Reply
#4
mediasorcerer
Interesting story q, microsoft trending in a concerning direction, ive noticed it too = Good thing we have the right to scrutinise and speak frankly !!! We are not children, it is condescending of corporations to implement draconian frameworks, and if people notice then why not speak up?

Its a co-dependant love hate relationship between the consumer and corporation, the ultimate expression of disdain is to vote with the feet, unfortunately, many dont.
Posted on Reply
#5
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
mediasorcerer said:
Interesting story q, microsoft trending in a concerning direction, ive noticed it too = Good thing we have the right to scrutinise and speak frankly !!! We are not children, it is condescending of corporations to implement draconian frameworks, and if people notice then why not speak up?

Its a co-dependant love hate relationship between the consumer and corporation, the ultimate expression of disdain is to vote with the feet, unfortunately, many dont.
Duh - of course! :rolleyes: Why do some people apologize for these companies' naughty practices and shoot the messenger? "Condescending" is a really good word for this behaviour. If I'd thought of it earlier, I would have used it in the article. ;)
Posted on Reply
#6
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
qubit said:
No I didn't. ;)

Nice quote there, TRWOV. It doesn't actually change anything about what I said and I can't be bothered to explain it over and over. However, I'll just say this: the basic gist of this is that it looks like MS is trying to funnel buying all software through it's Windows Store, thereby imposing these sorts of terms and conditions where they didn't exist before on the Windows platform. This is a Bad Thing.
Yes, but as usual, you are doing so in a "the sky is falling" type of way. Making bold assumptions about how things might happen based on nothing other than your opinion on the subject with zero research or logic.

If microsoft wanted us to use Metro exclusively, they wouldn't have given us the option to go back to the deaktop(not talking about the reg hack to restore the old start menu, talking about the default behavior of allowing us to go back to the desktop). And again, you still seem to be arguing like the Windows Store is the only option to get programs, and it isn't even close. The biggest fact is that Microsoft would be hit with anti-trust lawsuits faster than you can say "I hate Microsoft".

The fact of the matter is that the Development Preview was designed to show off Metro, so of course they aren't going to include the option to disable it right in the interface. However, I highly believe that the final release will include the option to turn Metro off, mainly because in the business world Metro doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

And again, that doesn't really matter, because standard programs installed the traditional way work with Metro. Microsoft can't stop this, it wouldn't even be a reasonable business strategy for them to want to. Look at all the custom business apps that are out there for industry specific tasks. Can you image not being able to install those? No corporation in their right mind would accept an OS like that, and Microsoft would shoot themselves in the foot if they even tried it, and Microsoft isn't that dumb. In fact they cater to corporations. Why do you think they kept 98 and 2000 alive so long, and are still keeping XP alive? Here's a hint: It isn't for the home consumer.
Posted on Reply
#7
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
newtekie1 said:

And again, that doesn't really matter, because standard programs installed the traditional way work with Metro. Microsoft can't stop this, it wouldn't even be a reasonable business strategy for them to want to. Look at all the custom business apps that are out there for industry specific tasks. Can you image not being able to install those? No corporation in their right mind would accept an OS like that, and Microsoft would shoot themselves in the foot if they even tried it, and Microsoft isn't that dumb. In fact they cater to corporations. Why do you think they kept 98 and 2000 alive so long, and are still keeping XP alive? Here's a hint: It isn't for the home consumer.
They would indeed be stupid to destroy one of the best things about Windows: the gargantuan amount of software avaliable.
Posted on Reply
#8
AsRock
TPU addict
newtekie1 said:
Oh boo hoo, Microsoft is starting an Apps store just like everyone else. OMG IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!

Talk to me when they take away the ability to buy and install programs from disc or other sources... Then, and only then, can we make a big deal out of this.



It is Quibit, that is kind of what he does. Especially when it comes to anything Microsoft, he really loves blowing everything they do out of proportion and putting the biggest doomsday spin he possible can on it.
But that's what normal news reporters do :) :)..

Blow up or not it's still showing the shady agreement that goes a long with buying these apps..
Posted on Reply
#9
badtaylorx
HA!!! i live in Maine, USA.....where we have a 48 hr state mandated "cooling off period!!!
Posted on Reply
#10
faramir
micropage7 said:
and windows follows apple?
apple must sue windows coz they copy apple's concept
i hope apple will sue windows
And I hope my window will sing a cucumber.
Posted on Reply
#11
Wile E
Power User
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".

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.


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?
They aren't controlling anything out of the ordinary. They aren't trying to screw you out of anything. They are launching an app store. That's the news. That's it. Launching an app store. Everything else you added is pure opinionated FUD, and quite frankly, I'm getting sick of reading through these conspiracy theories to try to weed out a few facts.

I'm sorry you hate my choice of words, and yeah, they are a bit harsh at times, but to me this truly is junk journalism. It belongs on FUDzilla, not TPU.

xtremesv said:
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:
Apple isn't even a walled garden. You can still install apps not from the app store as well. The app store being added to OS X did not change anything else. It's just an added way to get apps. Same with MS's app store.

Hell, even Amazon has an android app store, and it is capable of the same exact things this MS app store is capable of. Nobody is freaking out about it.

Mountain out of a molehill.

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.
Read everything in it's entirety and research the matter, and you'll see the Win 8 "walled garden" does not exist. It is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
AsRock said:
But that's what normal news reporters do :) :)..

Blow up or not it's still showing the shady agreement that goes a long with buying these apps..
TPU always had a higher standard than what "normal" news reporters churn out.
Posted on Reply
#12
mediasorcerer
Whether qubit is right or wrong, wheres the gratitude that he is having the guts to challenge anyway?

sorry-but having an apathetic attitude towards news can go to hell, i for one am glad he is standing up and questioning things like this, and that is the point, instead of just going along with it all like a good little consumer.
Posted on Reply
#13
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
closed models are better for the consumer in the end. apple has proven this time and time again. microsoft is finally catching on. open source will continue to thrive. nothing to be worried about.
Posted on Reply
#14
mediasorcerer
Agreed rhino, that they are, its a question of how far will these corporations go regarding protecting our rights and freedoms like privacy and choice etc.

Corporations sometimes have a lot of gumption when it comes to things like that, anyone with a modecum of sense and critical thought would question the ethical foundations of such mentality.
Posted on Reply
#15
Wile E
Power User
mediasorcerer said:
Whether qubit is right or wrong, wheres the gratitude that he is having the guts to challenge anyway?

sorry-but the sheep can go to hell, i for one am glad he is standing up and questioning things like this, and that is the point, instead of just going along with it all like a good little consumer.
Guts to challenge what? There is nothing here to challenge. It's all blown completely out of proportion. MS isn't trying to screw anyone over by this.

There's is a time to challenge, then there is a time when you need to take off the tinfoil hat.
Posted on Reply
#16
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
personally, im not sure why some people are so against closed models. apple has been very successful at it as they draw thousand of developers despite the walled garden. consumers love the app store apple put together because it has millions of options and are all guaranteed to work and be safe. i really dont see anything wrong with that. if the walled garden was bad for the consumer apple would be dead in the water.
Posted on Reply
#17
kid41212003
Easy Rhino said:
personally, im not sure why some people are so against closed models. apple has been very successful at it as they draw thousand of developers despite the walled garden. consumers love the app store apple put together because it has millions of options and are all guaranteed to work and be safe. i really dont see anything wrong with that.
I think people are scared the idea of closing/censorship/filtering.

Ignorance is bliss => walled garden.

"Frog at the bottom of the well" not sure if u get this preference...
Posted on Reply
#18
Mussels
Moderprator
Easy Rhino said:
personally, im not sure why some people are so against closed models. apple has been very successful at it as they draw thousand of developers despite the walled garden. consumers love the app store apple put together because it has millions of options and are all guaranteed to work and be safe. i really dont see anything wrong with that. if the walled garden was bad for the consumer apple would be dead in the water.
except for the hundreds of useless, misleading apps.

for example there is one on the apple store that advertises how it gives you twice as much battery - by giving you two battery meters.

just because its a closed model doesnt mean the app quality gets any better.
Posted on Reply
#19
Wile E
Power User
Mussels said:
except for the hundreds of useless, misleading apps.

for example there is one on the apple store that advertises how it gives you twice as much battery - by giving you two battery meters.

just because its a closed model doesnt mean the app quality gets any better.
And it doesn't get any worse. The closed model at least has a reliable means of doing something about malware infested apps.
Posted on Reply
#20
Mussels
Moderprator
Wile E said:
And it doesn't get any worse. The closed model at least has a reliable means of doing something about malware infested apps.
true, malware apps are most likely prevented. got a point there.
Posted on Reply
#21
TRWOV
mediasorcerer said:
Whether qubit is right or wrong, wheres the gratitude that he is having the guts to challenge anyway?

sorry-but having an apathetic attitude towards news can go to hell, i for one am glad he is standing up and questioning things like this, and that is the point, instead of just going along with it all like a good little consumer.
Challenge what? A run-of-the-mill contract? Do you pay rent? Look at your contract, I'm pretty sure that, according to it, your landlord could come in the middle of the night and kick you out, just because. Doesn't mean that he will do.

M$ needs those provisions in the contract just in case they ever need to deny access to an app you've purchased. Why you ask? Copyright issues (clone apps, see Lugaro in Apple's App Store for an example) and security reasons (like if an app has a serious exploit and needs to be pulled until it's fixed) would the the chief reasons. It sucks but it's necessary because if they don't cover their asses with those provisions they would be hit right and left with lawsuits every time they had to do it.

Even an internet forum, where nothing is at risk, except your access to the very same forum, has some sort of kill switch (read TPU's ToS for an example).
Posted on Reply
#22
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
yes, these terms are in every software companies contract agreement. think of them as "cover your ass" just in case malware hits the network. pretty standard really. nothing to see here.
Posted on Reply
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