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The Windows You Love is Gone

Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Windows RT: Runtime? Or Get Up and Run Time?

Update #1, 10/26/2012: Apparently it does not take long to see the first tremors of certification woes. A Windows developer by the name of Jeffrey Harmon allegedly wrestled with Microsoft certification support 6 times over 2 months because his app did not meet minimum standards. He was not given clear and specific reasons why -- apparently little more than copy/paste of the regulations he failed to achieve. Kind-of what to expect from a closed platform... right? Imagine if some nonsensical terms become mandated or other problems crop up?

Also, Microsoft has just said they will allow PEGI 18 games which would have received an ESRB M rating. Of course their regulations can and will change further over time... the point is the difference between a store refusing to carry versus banishing from the whole platform even for limited sharing. The necessity of uproars, especially so early on and so frequently, should be red flags for censorship to come. Could be for artistically-intentioned nudity or sexual themes. Could even be not about sex, language, and violence at all.

***

Last month, I suggested that the transition to Windows RT bares the same hurdles as transitioning to Linux. Many obstacles blocking our path, like Adobe and PC gaming, are considering Linux; the rest have good reason to follow.

This month we receive Windows RT and Microsoft’s attempt to shackle us to it: Windows 8.

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To be clear: Microsoft has large incentives to banish the legacy of Windows. The way Windows 8 is structured reduces it to a benign tumorous growth atop Windows RT. The applications we love and the openness we adore are contained to an app.

I will explain how you should hate this -- after I explain why and support it with evidence.

Microsoft is currently in the rare state of sharp and aggressive focus to a vision. Do not misrepresent this as greed: it is not. Microsoft must face countless jokes about security and stability. Microsoft designed Windows with strong slants towards convenience over security.

That ideology faded early into the life of Windows XP. How Windows operates is fundamentally different. Windows machines are quite secure, architecturally. Con-artists are getting desperate. Recent attacks are almost exclusively based on fear and deception of the user. Common examples are fake anti-virus software or fraudulent call center phone calls. We all win when attackers get innovative: survival of the fittest implies death of the weakest.

Continue reading why we think the Windows you Love is gone...

The WinRT architecture distrusts its users to an extreme end: like Apple, Microsoft removes user control.

WinRT is the layer which forms the basis for Windows RT and Windows 8. Apps designed for WinRT will run anywhere WinRT does. Windows RT will only run WinRT apps and those apps must come from Windows Update or Windows Store. Web apps in Internet Explorer are the only exception.

Again, do not think Microsoft designed Windows RT out of greed. Microsoft supports open web standards even over Silverlight, their platform with a now uncertain future. Security and stability are favored over selling proprietary development tools.

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Yes that was Photoshopped... to remove whitespace and make it smaller without scaling.

No UI elements were cut out, just pushed together. The full size image is just as ironic.

It makes sense for Microsoft to slowly end Windows as we know it and transition to Windows RT. Microsoft will never be dependent on a hardware platform again and they can finally shake their insecure stereotype. They certainly seem to be trying.

Removing legacy UI elements enables a less cluttered experience with their new interface. The concern is not that Microsoft removed the Start Menu and boots to the Start Screen. Microsoft did not stop there. Microsoft breaks numerous hacks to restore previous functionality. That extra effort is an attempt to make the past uncomfortable.

Windows Server is even more telling. Windows Server is not a consumer operating system and yet your choice is the “Modern UI”, a telling name to occasionally replace “Metro” with, or Powershell. Visual Studio Express was WinRT-or-bust until developer outcry made Microsoft sweat. Just this week Bill Gates discussed how Windows 8 and Windows Phone platforms are “evolving literally into be(ing) a single platform.” Compare Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8: Windows RT is the middle ground.

Do not be surprised if Microsoft intends to remove the cancer it considers its legacy.

… The Bad and the Ugly

Applications in the Windows store must adhere to strict but not permanent guidelines.

A curated platform is also a censored one. Microsoft will only allow an equivalent of ESRB M for North America or PEGI 16 for Europe. You might feel okay with Windows Store not carrying ESRB AO -- like most retailers -- but that is not the issue we face. This abolishes content from the platform. European gamers might be worse off as the following games exceed PEGI 16: Bioshock, Dishonored, XCOM, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Borderlands 2, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and of course Grand Theft Auto. I just name a few.

Again, this is not a refusal to carry in the store. This eradicates content from the platform.

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Steam chooses what they carry, not what you carry.

If they don't carry it? GOG.com, Amazon, the author's website, you can make it yourself...

Parental filters are one issue but a strict ban on the basis of sex and violence is a whole other one. It even puts pressure upon censoring sensitive political topics such as same-sex relationships -- as allegedly the case with Harvest Moon -- and it throws the baby out with the bathwater.

Problems are prevented by discussion and context -- not by silence.

The power of art marries societal issues with their consequences. You benefit when art contextualizes the general issues of humanity and that is especially true for an audience in a time of personal struggle. Such as the case of a kidnapping where the captor views the victim as an object instead of a real person, violence is often a result of the dissociation between actions and consequences to a being. Likewise, art helps victims recover through a similar contextualization. Check out ConnectSafely for their discussion about child access to violent media.

Then consider if Microsoft faces pressure to change their mandate and require official ESRB/PEGI rating? Getting told that your content is safe for children is expensive; even worse, those who can pay are less likely interested in art.

Before we stray too far from the topic of certification fees, Xbox Live Arcade developers must pay an estimated $40,000 to validate a single patch.

Not a full game, just a patch.

What if Microsoft decides that Windows cert fees are the burden of the developer? Consider the impact on free or open source software should Microsoft invoice them. If they do on Xbox they can on Windows RT.

Mods are at risk too. Six years ago we faced Games for Windows Live. Mike Capps of Epic said it best: “I think the thing gamers need to worry about right now is that we’re seeing the console mod community coming to the PC -- which is that -- you cannot ship content to people because Microsoft is afraid of what you might put into it. Right? They are putting a cert process, or considering it, for Games for Windows Live: and that’s scary.”

Déjà vu?

Is artistic censorship or developer restraint not important enough? Consider a government who demands Microsoft block encryption apps. Well that is really scary. We know Microsoft complies with a law despite its political intent. Why shorten your own leash? If you build censorship, they will come.

A few silly problems: maybe Microsoft eventually wants you to include controller or Kinect support? Maybe your app replicates core functionality? Maybe you gave up your recourse when you entered the walled garden.

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Seem fishy, yet?

I fear for users and developers. There will be perpetual problems when Microsoft finally drops the hammer on legacy Windows and closes the platform. The average person stresses, “I am just doing simple things.” Simple is subconsciously defined as what they do: Flash support, Outlook, PowerPoint, the rest of Office, a specific web browser, doing their taxes, a game, or even printing documents. It is all simple until it is found simply impossible.

Then they are stuck.

Keep your options open in case Windows RT becomes Windows. If you truly have simple needs Linux should be dead simple. Most Linux distributions are designed for the simple and typical needs of most users, right from install. You do not need to move immediately or maybe at all. Just consider an action plan and keep it as easy on yourself as possible if Microsoft bares decision day upon you.

Does the mention of Linux remove your confidence that your needs are simple? That might be more reason to consider an open and community-supported platform.

At least then a single company cannot say no.


For more coverage on Windows 8/RT and other topics from PC Perspective you can subscribe to our podcast, our YouTube channel or just stop by the home page to see other editorials and reviews!

October 26, 2012 | 08:43 AM - Posted by Ryann (not verified)

I don't know that calling the windows phone was failed. Where it was bad is that it did not make it into upper end phones which automatically made it the David v Goliath going against iPhone and Android.

I have a windows phone, I've had both of the other OSs, and I quite like W7.5 on my Nokia Lumia710.

October 25, 2012 | 09:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Your concerns about the windows app store are not really justified. They do not allow PEGI 18 software in the app store, yes, but that does not mean that you cannot go to your local gamestop and buy those games and install them.

And your jump to conclusion from sex and violence to same sex issues? really?

There are also a lot of what ifs you've written and they pertain to the app store itself, and again not software you just go in and buy yourself.

Windows 8 is just like regular windows, but with a full screen start menu, and many performance improvements under the hood and all this fearmongering is just unwarranted

/2 cents

October 25, 2012 | 09:40 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Thanks for the comments.

Unfortunately that just is not true in the case of Windows RT. It's Windows Store, Windows Update, or Internet Explorer. You cannot just put a disc in the tray and install something.

The first part of the post focuses on evidence that Microsoft intends to end legacy Windows support at some point in the future and migrate everyone to some equivalent of Windows RT. Microsoft really wants all content to be certified which it just cannot do with legacy sideloading.

And how they're treating Windows Server and attempts to restore legacy functionality seriously suggests it.

And then when you consider what Bill Gates said about wanting to merge Windows 8 with Windows Phone...

October 25, 2012 | 10:37 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That could be true, but we won't know for sure until tomorrow when people start getting their hands on some Windows RT tablets and there's ARM compatible software to be had that's not in the windows store

But with RT, yes, they want everything to be certified which shouldn't be too much of an issue as the same thing happens with all mobile OSes.

If that's the worry, then just use Windows Pro rather than RT. I doubt Microsoft will stop the ability for people to install software from their DVD/USB drives or other stores as that would piss off a lot of people (Valve) and cause them to move to other platforms

I don't think merging the two is too much of an issue either, anything that makes it easier for mom and pop to use their computers I'm all for, even though yes, there will be a learning curve to transition to Metro. As long as this merging doesn't take away the main desktop for power users

October 25, 2012 | 10:58 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

The thing is then Microsoft would need to maintain that lump of legacy, that doesn't jive with WinRT, just for the power users.

And that's why companies, actually yes, like Valve... as well as Blizzard and Mojang... are pissed off.

October 25, 2012 | 11:30 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, but their software isn't targeting RT, it's targeting Windows 8 and in that respect, they shouldn't be upset, Valve still has Steam, Blizzard still has BNet, it doesn't change anything since people can install it on Windows 8. And Mojang can still produce an RT version of their games, as they do on Android and iOS.

Now if they have/want to get Steam/BNet onto RT that's a different story and we really won't know for awhile

October 25, 2012 | 11:34 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Storefront apps are allowed... the goal is not greed. Heck they may or may not even decide to not take a cut of sales from storefront apps.

((Their current definition of storefront apps is pretty clearly focused on non-executable content so it's possible they could block Steam/others -- they haven't made any moves to officially do it though. But that never really was the problem... the problem was the cert and curation itself.))

The goal is to force cert and curation. That is what has the scariest results to me and likely is why Mojang and others are outspoken.

October 25, 2012 | 12:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

But why the worry about certification? It only makes sure that the software runs correctly on the hardware. And I'm pretty sure they will price it like the Mac App Store, i.e. free. Apple doesn't charge for updates and patches if I'm correct and I don't see why Microsoft will do so.

And as for curation, we still get all the games as they allow ESRB M rated games, and if there's enough backlash, i'm sure they'll change it to a maximum of a PEGI 18 rating for Europe.

And again, this is all based just on Windows RT. If it's an issue, then get a Windows 8 based tablet or computer and you can install Steam/Origin to get your games that way.

October 25, 2012 | 12:20 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

As I said in the article -- the worry about cert is two fold: lack of recourse and adding a middleman.

Like I said -- when you add curation and certifrication you'll get abuse and ridiculous terms because you need to appease the middleman... and the middleman needs to appease other forces: politicial, financial, their ignorance, etc.

And again -- that will be fine so long as they continue to let us do that. It doesn't look like they will.

October 25, 2012 | 12:42 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

But there are already middlemen; Steam, Origin, BNet. There also wasn't this huge backlash against the Mac App Store, and in fact there was high praise, so i don't see why there should be now with the Windows store. There really is no difference between the two, the models and rules are pretty much the same.

Why are there not any of these complaints about these stores as well? Steam is arguably the biggest online games store, and the Mac App store the biggest general purpose store. Do these other forces affect them? Not really, and yet people still flock to them without worry

October 25, 2012 | 04:44 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Because they do not prevent you from installing anything not from the store.

As for my opinion on other app stores that are required to use a device like the iOS app store? Hate them too.

October 25, 2012 | 11:15 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Haha, like I mentioned, they're not preventing anything from being installed. They will allow all apps rating from E-M so they're not excluding anything nor anyone except anything rated AO. So it's fair to say, whatever people want published, they will put on and if not, just go into desktop mode and install it there

I'm just saying it's a very far stretch to say that their ignorance, anything political, or financial will stop them from putting apps into their store. The more apps, the more revenue they will generate by selling them.

All of this is just a big assumption based on Windows RT which is ARM based. You're forgetting that Windows 8 and it's next iterations will have x86 compatibility which will allow you to install whatever programs you want

October 25, 2012 | 11:49 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

You assume later iterations of x86 Windows will have legacy support.

Again, it's not about greed.

Same interview with Mike Capps -- actually the question before the one I quote:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9skX-prhVJ4&t=2m21s

"Mods for UT3 on Xbox Live... *sighs a couple of times trying to think* I mean... we haven't seen any yet, right? We haven't seen a mod business yet on Xbox Live and that's because they want to cert all the content onto the Xbox, that goes through the Xbox Live Portal. And I mean, certing a game takes tonnes of effort and expertise and I just don't see that happening anytime soon."

Microsoft is even more strict than Sony about cert. It is not unreasonable to expect this would come to the PC platform.

October 26, 2012 | 04:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Perhaps, but your assumption is that they won't have legacy support. It only makes sense that they keep it, especially with x86 compatibility. Why would they discontinue it? It doesn't make sense. Just because they are merging their OS into one platform does NOT at all conclude that they are closing the entire ecosystem up. Gates is just saying that they are unifying their UI from desktop to mobile so that transitioning back and forth would be easier.

As I mentioned, certification on XBL and on the Windows Store will be different, as they will more closely match what Apple is doing with the Mac App store. You're correlating what they're doing on XBL to the Windows store which I do believe is unreasonable. How are they going to get small time developers to put their apps into their store? It doesn't make sense

Looking at what is on the Windows store now, you can see that they're not super strict about what goes on into the store (within reason)

October 25, 2012 | 01:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Also, they mentioned today that they WILL have ESRB M rated software on their store even if they are rated PEGI 18

October 26, 2012 | 09:53 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Added it to my update, and my opinion on it too.

October 25, 2012 | 04:20 PM - Posted by zicoz (not verified)

You can't really state that the goal is to force cert and curation. That is only what you personally fear.

Also, you starting this attack on Microsoft while proclaiming Ubuntu as the savior is also kinda crazy when we see what I believe is the largest ditro out there (Ubuntu) is actually running a curated store as well.

October 25, 2012 | 04:42 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

I said there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest it, and I gave it... including a quote from Bill Gates.

Also, I never mentioned Ubuntu -- but since you did -- the difference is the application is not reliant on Ubuntu's curation for survival as is the case on Windows RT.

There's nothing wrong with providing a curated avenue. I was originally going to program Windows 8 apps for the Windows Store if you look back to the, I believe, Oct 17th podcast. It just seriously looks like they want to make it the only method.

October 27, 2012 | 10:58 AM - Posted by Dominhiho (not verified)

I honestly can't see the problem here.

What is the difference between downloading and installing software on Windows 8 and Windows 7? Absolutely nothing. Literally. I have Windows 8, I tried the consumer review beforehand and I really liked it and I can tell you everything I used to run on Windows 7 is available on my Windows 8 installation. Steam, Skype, Chrome (Even has metro integration proving further that you don't need to have the windows store to get apps).

Here's an idea, instead of windows developers complaining about how the windows store is a limited platform, how about they just develop for the desktop environment? You know, LIKE THEY ALWAYS HAVE DONE.

This trash talk about Windows 8 has gotten out of hand. People rushing into talking shit about the operating system when they know absolutely nothing about it. The only actual difference between Windows 7 and 8 is that aero is gone (Good riddance) and they've added a shiny new start menu under the name metro. And also the vast improvements to the task manager and windows explorer.

Enjoy using Windows 7/Vista/Xp. I'll just be chilling over here with my 3 times faster boot speed. Ciao.

October 27, 2012 | 06:59 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

<<Here's an idea, instead of windows developers complaining about how the windows store is a limited platform, how about they just develop for the desktop environment? You know, LIKE THEY ALWAYS HAVE DONE.>>

And we fear, will not continue to do... at some point... because Microsoft removed support for it to have their hardware-agnositc fully certified platform.

October 25, 2012 | 09:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

RT is for ARM.

intel is making inroads to crush ARM, the future is x86

October 25, 2012 | 09:44 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Even if Intel crushes ARM, WinRT can be ported to really any hardware platform Microsoft deems worth it, like PowerPC.

Underlying hardware really does not matter since everything is run under a common compatibility layer.

Very seductive for Microsoft... terrible for people who want to use their PCs in a way that Microsoft does not intend or want, though.

October 25, 2012 | 10:29 AM - Posted by brisa117

I can see using a Win RT tablet as a substitute for an Andriod/iOS tablet, but I'm sticking with Win7 for now. It's an excellent operating system... now down the road, if things don't change, I would be more than happy to switch to a Linux Distro. I've used Linux distros many times before for home servers and when Windows has crapped out on friend's PC, via jump drive.

Honestly, if Steam and driver support substantially moved to Linux, I would be there. There are suitable replacements for almost everything else. PLUS, there are alot of awesome developers out there who only develop for Linux even now!

The majority of people won't move, let's face it. The average consumer likes the rosy smell of the walled garden, but I am willing to bet that the Linux market share will increase several fold (which is still not much. haha)

October 25, 2012 | 10:53 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

You have no idea how close that post is to my actual beliefs.

The average consumer only really thinks they like the walled garden though until they realize where the walls are.

Think of it like the difference between "mass transit" and "a car". Cars are horrifically complicated and have terrible ramifications if the user fails. A bus route is laid out to serve the needs of most the the common customers. Most people would put up with all of the headaches to have the freedoms of a car though.

People just have not pieced together all of the small problems that popcorn up with closed computer platforms yet. Some do not even know the benefits of an open platform.

That's one of the main reasons why I try.

October 25, 2012 | 10:29 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

WinRT is like WinCE.. made to run on special hardware.

for me a WinRT device was never even in the picture..... Win8 x86/64 or nothing.

but MS has to get on all those little crappy android ARM devices as well so they make the the crappy RT version of win8

oh yea.. for phones as well, I can see why they did it but i'd say hell would freeze before they'd actually shove this thing on everything.. if the devs freaked out over the visual studio thing what would you think would happen if it was RT only ha they'd have people with pitch forks at the HQ.

Anything can be read anyway between whatever lines are given.

October 25, 2012 | 10:55 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

It's made to run on any supported hardware, not special hardware. It is the basis for Windows 8 too... although Windows 8 has that growth of legacy software hanging off of it.

October 25, 2012 | 11:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For x86, ARM, and any other CPU, the future for tablets is low power with good graphics. x86 may be a contender but will the x86 + graphics be Intel or AMD! Maybe ARM + AMD(GPU), I will wait and see! I do not see Intel x86 replacing ARM, because ARM can already run most of the software that a tablet user would need to use. In fact, I see Apple some time in the future building laptops based on ARM 64 bit(instruction set) processors based on Apple custom designs, with possibly on chip AMD licensed GPUs.
AMD's work through the HSA foundation will allow AMD IP to be used much the same way ARM's IP is licensed and used currently! RT replacing all of the open OSs will never be, in much the same way iOS is now, for people who care about being locked into a closed ecosystem, iOS or Win RT is not the way to go!

October 25, 2012 | 11:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Im really sick of your constant complaining about windows 8. Yeah your precious start button is gone, get over it. And yes, Microsoft has their own app store which requires developers to get their apps certified in order to be in there. This is to protect the average consumer so they don't install malware or whatever malicious crap they've downloaded. Us power users will still have our desktop environment to install whatever the hell we want. I don't understand your concerns. You really think Microsoft is going to take that away from us? I don't see that happening, at least not any time soon. You sound like an old man who is afraid of change. Windows 8 is just fine. RT, might not be your cup of tea, but it has the potential to be a nice alternative to iOS or Android. Windows 8 is the best of both worlds. SO what is there not to like? All you need to do is use windows 8 for a week or two and you will learn how to use it properly. All your complaints are based on speculation and you irrational fear of change. One more thing. Valve and Mojangs concerns about windows 8 are bullshit. Notch is an idiot who was just hoping on the "hate microsoft" bandwagon and Gabe Newell just has his panties in a twist because steam is now offering applications and the windows store has the potential to undermine that fact. From a purely consumer stand-point, we have nothing to worry about.

October 25, 2012 | 12:11 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

I actually like Windows 8 as an operating system. I have no hard feelings over the start menu disappearing -- and if that were my gripe I would just install Stardock's software. I was not just considering upgrading to it, I started developing apps until I saw how Microsoft was lining up.

And I'm sick of people making false assumptions about me -- and then arguing with me about those assumptions which are not even true. It's like whenever I talk about stupid anti-piracy -- people try to discredit me by sayin "Just buy your dang software!" o.O No. I don't pirate. I'm saying ((X/Y/Z reason or math error they made or whatever))

If Microsoft decides to keep legacy support and the ability to develop and install whatever I want... great. I win.

I wrote this to make sure that if they DO remove that ability -- and it certainly seems like they will in a few years -- people would have been warned to not put up with it. Maybe even rhile up development of alternatives to give people a place to go.

But if you lock yourself too far in -- you'll be that much closer to just putting up with it when the hammer falls.

October 25, 2012 | 12:00 PM - Posted by Coupe

This article isn't too professional. It relies way too much on emotion. It reminds me of sports press and tabloids.

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