Wednesday, July 27th 2016

Microsoft Out to Destroy Steam: Epic's Tim Sweeney

Tim Sweeney, a lead developer with Epic Games, behind the industry-leading Unreal game engine, once again raised concerns in a recent interview with print-magazine "Edge," that Microsoft is systematically killing digital distribution platform Steam, by deliberately eroding the reliability and longevity of the Win32 programming interface for PC versions of Windows, in favor of its UWP (universal Windows platform), through updates to the OS.

Microsoft, Sweeney argues, is carefully avoiding big changes to the way third-party software is distributed and used on Windows, but is definitely seen to be taking small strategic steps, "sneaky maneuvers," that could lead to Windows Store either monopolizing all third-party software distribution on the platform, or worse, making it the only way you can get third-party apps. The rising reliability issues affecting Steam, a Win32 API-based platform that distributes Win32 software, Sweeney claims are telltale signs of that dark future of the PC platform. Microsoft's biggest argument in favor of UWP is that software is inherently more secure, since it's sandboxed (covered in abstraction layers and virtualized by the OS) even further.

Below is an excerpt from the "Edge" interview.

How exactly do you think Microsoft is locking down the PC to make it a closed platform?
There are two programming interfaces for Windows and every app has to choose one of them. Every Steam app - every PC game for the past few decades - has used Win32. It's been both responsible for the vibrant software market we have now, but also for malware. Any program can be a virus. Universal Windows Platform is seen as the antidote to that. It's sandboxed - much more locked down. The risk here is that, if Microsoft convinces everyone to use UWP, then they phase out Win32 apps. If they can succeed in doing that then it's a small leap to forcing all apps and games to be distributed through the Windows store. Once we reach that point, the PC has become a closed platform. It won't be that one day they flip a switch that will break your Steam library - what they're trying to do is a series of sneaky maneauvres. They make it more and more inconvenient to use the old apps, and, simultaneously, they try to become the only source for the new ones.

Given that Steam is so widespread and popular, how could Microsoft truly win that battle, in terms of games at least?
Slowly, over the next 5 years, they will force-patch Windows 10 to make Steam progressively worse and more broken. They'll never completely break it, but will continue to break it until, in five years, people are so fed up that Steam is buggy that the Windows Store seem like an ideal alternative. That's exactly what they did to their previous competitors in other areas. Now they're doing it to Steam. It's only just starting to become visible. Microsoft might not be competent enough to succeed with their plan but they are certainly trying.

Isn't it the case that Microsoft is simply mimicking Apple's model, given how lucrative it's proven to be for software distribution?
Sure, that's the motivation. They're trying to copy Apple's model, but they realise you can't just flip a switch. It has to be achieved in small step changes.
Source: ArsTechnica
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79 Comments on Microsoft Out to Destroy Steam: Epic's Tim Sweeney

#3
BiggieShady
Steam is so popular that this tactic will only make game developers use Vulkan instead of DX12 and gamers refuse upgrade to Windows 10 or even rollback ... after all MS can't mess up Win32 support in older OS versions
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#4
Naito
Let me just put on my tin foil hat...
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#5
Tsukiyomi91
with millions of Steam users out there, I dun think MacroShit is capable of destroying Steam that easily IMO... too bad for them lol
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#6
Tsukiyomi91
@BiggieShady I think this shit move from MS is gonna put a hurt on their sales a lot. If I were in MS shoes, I will appreciate what Steam & other digital distributors did for making Windows the OS of choice for gamers, rather than destroying it & replacing all of it with the controversial Universal Windows Platform.
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#7
P4-630
Just :laugh::roll:
I don't worry about that, Steam is here to stay.
And I will probably use windows 8.1 till EOL.
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#8
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
Yeah he's the master of FUD. And here's him saying PC's are not good for games.
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#9
Tsukiyomi91
While my main rig runs Win 10, I won't surrender my gaming freedom to UWP garbage as I have not spent a single cent to them in the coming months & I won't give the OS a chance at downloading nonsense from Windows Update servers. God bless the Internet for all the hacks & tips on gaining back control over complete autonomy of the OS & killing those spyware disguising as "helpful" apps.
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#10
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
Tsukiyomi91
While my main rig runs Win 10, I won't surrender my gaming freedom to UWP garbage as I have not spent a single cent to them in the coming months & I won't give the OS a chance at downloading nonsense from Windows Update servers. God bless the Internet for all the hacks & tips on gaining back control over complete autonomy of the OS & killing those spyware disguising as "helpful" apps.
Why's UWP garbage?
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#11
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
IDK why everyone thinks its tinfoil hat time. Gabe first talked about MS desire to make gaming a walled garden a few years ago, based on the coding in W8.1. Supposedly, to anyone that knows what to look for (meaning mostly none of us that have commented here so far), Windows in 8.1 and improved upon in 10 is set up to do the walled garden thing.

Also, this is the 2nd Studio to come out and independantly pan MS and state this is not only possible, but highly likely.

It's at least worth watching by any open-minded people. I can't imagine everyone suddenly thinks MS suddenly got all altruistic and honest in how it operates?

TLDR: Just keep an open mind and watch. MS is extremely shady and has alternately been hostile to or incompetent regarding PC gaming, so it's possible.
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#12
Melvis
Isnt this grounds for a law suit?
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#13
the54thvoid
rtwjunkie
IDK why everyone thinks its tinfoil hat time. Gabe first talked about MS desire to make gaming a walled garden a few years ago, based on the coding in W8.1. Supposedly, to anyone that knows what to look for (meaning mostly none of us that have commented here so far), Windows in 8.1 and improved upon in 10 is set up to do the walled garden thing.

Also, this is the 2nd Studio to come out and independantly pan MS and state this is not only possible, but highly likely.

It's at least worth watching by any open-minded people. I can't imagine everyone suddenly thinks MS suddenly got all altruistic and honest in how it operates?
MS needs to make money and it's avenues for doing so are much more easily aligned to gaming and apps. It's quite unsurprising they would leverage their PC OS to cause 'hurt' to other distributors.
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#14
medi01
I don't see a big difference Microsoft being the exclusive game distributor vs Valve being the monopolist.

On second thought, I'd prefer the former, as it already is on suspect list of the government agencies.

And all that love for Valve, with their shameless 30% cut, dear god...


As for Unreal guys, they better worry about Valve using it's giant share of PC gaming income to develop competing frameworks and giving them out for free. Microsoft is rather far from doing that.
Tsukiyomi91
I won't surrender my gaming freedom to UWP garbage
Said someone who surrendered gaming freedom to Valve.
rtwjunkie
Gabe first talked about MS desire to make gaming a walled garden a few years ago, based on the coding in W8.1.
That's rather twisted view on facts, to be honest.
MS won't dare to declare themselves the only store for windows apps.

What Gabe was afraid of was that windows store (being on gamer's machines out of the box) would threaten Valve's (Steam) monopoly.
After that, they shat their pants and started doing nonsense such as steam machine.

I welcome Vulkan, however.
Tsukiyomi91
If I were in MS shoes, I will appreciate what Steam & other digital distributors did for making Windows the OS of choice for gamers,
Oh dear God.
DirectX did that.
Not Steam (puny game store/download client), lazy fruckers, where the hell is HF3? No more interest, eh, with all those profits from being the only parasite on the market...

And Microsoft created that DirectX.
Oh, and nGreedia helped it fight OpenGL too, with "me me, only mine" G-Sync like crap in OpenGL.
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#15
TheDeeGee
There is always UseNet... if Microsoft wants to promote going that way.
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#16
Assimilator
This is some top-level bulls**ttery, Sweeney has evidently gone off the deep end and should be put out to pasture.
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#17
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
rtwjunkie
IDK why everyone thinks its tinfoil hat time. Gabe first talked about MS desire to make gaming a walled garden a few years ago, based on the coding in W8.1. Supposedly, to anyone that knows what to look for (meaning mostly none of us that have commented here so far), Windows in 8.1 and improved upon in 10 is set up to do the walled garden thing.

Also, this is the 2nd Studio to come out and independantly pan MS and state this is not only possible, but highly likely.

It's at least worth watching by any open-minded people. I can't imagine everyone suddenly thinks MS suddenly got all altruistic and honest in how it operates?
The future is yet to be told for sure, but claiming MS will break win32 just to get at Steam ... is just silly.

UWP is probably the future though, but nothing stops Valve from adapting. You can install UWP apps from wherever.
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#18
R-T-B
What "recent steam reliability issues?" I must've missed the bus on that one. o_O
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#19
KainXS
sweeney is still out to get microsoft huh, if microsoft gimped win32 I would guess windows would be dead at that point so yea . . . . . . Tim Sweeney being Tim Sweeney
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#20
RejZoR
I just checked the date and it's not April 1st. I'll NEVER buy ANYTHING from Windows Store. It's clumsy, limited, locked down and rubbish way to buy software. No thanks. Steam, GOG and partially Origin. And if they think to overtake the gaming world with some Halo and Forza, good luck. And if they think they can lock down things with DX12, say hello to our little friend called Vulkan. Microsoft is in NO position to dictate anything. They can't even get people to use Windows 10 without forcing them XD
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#21
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Okei, my two cents: This won't be the first time MS changed its API. Back in 2000-03, the industry transitioned between Win9x to WinNT, and suddenly people found that quite a few of their Win9x apps didn't work on NT (and vice versa). At least this time you have a nice transitive phase.

To think that MS will monopolize software distribution through Windows Store is a little alarmist, and you can already install UWP software without needing Store.

But I still think UWP should fail because Windows has been a cradle of innovation due to its open-ended approach to third-party software, in which you can get an app to work, or install the runtime environment required to get it to work.

Microsoft should avoid ending up with an Apple-like closed OS with a closed third-party software source (App Store). Android allows software stores other than Google Play (eg: Samsung Galaxy Apps, Xperia Store, etc.), and also allows *.apk installs. Apples have to be jailbroken to do that.
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#22
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
For a second there I thought it was April Fools.

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#23
truth teller
wut is this crap?
if this ever were to happen, ms would either have to target steam specifically and valve would easily check it and release a public article shaming ms, or it breaks multiple applications, which in the windows world would be a huge train wreck. there is a reason why the win32 api is still alive and well, none of that dotnet bullcrap and now uwp will take it down or diminish its usage. windows is a compatibility machine, even way better than linux (i can run exes from 20 years ago just fine, try running a binary or using a .so from that era in linux and see how what happens)
is this an original article from ars, or did ars just took the content from that so called "magazine"? are they running out of interesting stuff to write about that they need to resort to fud and click bait for social media mentions?
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#24
saikamaldoss
Tsukiyomi91
@BiggieShady I think this shit move from MS is gonna put a hurt on their sales a lot. If I were in MS shoes, I will appreciate what Steam & other digital distributors did for making Windows the OS of choice for gamers, rather than destroying it & replacing all of it with the controversial Universal Windows Platform.
Correct but I think MS is forced by Steam as they came up with steam OS and steam box which is a threat for windows platform.
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#25
erixx
they are competitors in gaming but far away. MS could have a small gaming portal as it did have, or like Ubi or EA, with there small portofolio. Add some decent servers for MP and nice game forums and you have a base platform for future growth. Make succesfull games, good pricing, good support.
Thats called loyal competition. The rest is singing bells.
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