Minecraft Creator Takes a Notch Out of Microsoft

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 29, 2012 - 11:33 PM |
Tagged: Windows Store, windows 8, censorship

And by the way -- Windows Store will censor apps. More on that later.

So around the same time as my future of Windows editorial became published PC Mag published a related piece: Notch from Mojang outrages over certification for Windows Store. Mojang voiced his concerns for the platform and its attempts to “ruin the PC as an open platform.”

I have, and continue to, claim that Microsoft appears to want to close the Windows platform in a near-future revision of the platform. Once there is enough software available through Windows Update and Windows Store it seems highly likely that Microsoft will remove all other ways on to your device -- as they have done with Windows RT. The concept of a cross-device, controlled, and secure platform is just too tempting.

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Loyal, but not stupid.

But backwards compatibility is not the only concern with going metro. Everything must be certified.

Indeed - as of the latest July 2012 certification requirements for Windows Store - Microsoft will predictably be censoring applications just as they do with the Xbox. Section 5.8 and 6.2 of the aforementioned certification requirements clearly state: applications must not contain excess or gratuitous profanity and applications must also not contain adult content. Of course this is aimed squarely at the various niches of adult graphic novels (correction: I apparently meant visual novels, not graphic novels - but I'm sure those would not be let on the Windows Store either) and similarly themed interactive content and the message is clear: get out and stay out.

I can think of a couple of countries where that will not fly.

To be fair Microsoft has addressed the issue in the very same section with the following clause:

We understand that in some cases, apps provide a gateway to retail content, user generated content, or web based content. We classify those apps as either Storefront apps, whose primary function is to aggregate and sell third party media or apps, or Streaming apps, whose primary function is to aggregate and stream web-based images, music, video or other media content. In some cases, it may be acceptable for a Storefront or Streaming app to include some content that might otherwise be prohibited in a single purpose app.

The clause functionally means: “Yeah we know web browsers cannot prevent themselves from surfing to the wrong side of the internet’s metaphorical tracks. This is not an excuse to ban them.” It also does not limit the censorship that Microsoft is clearly imposing.

And frankly the issue is not even with adult content; the issue is with the certification itself. We are at a point where Microsoft seems to want us to accept and migrate to their closed platform where everything is certified.

But what if future certification seriously limits or disables 3rd party modifications to software like attempted with Games for Windows Live? What if Microsoft decides to charge developers tens of thousands of dollars just to certify a patch? These are all serious issues to think about.

While you are thinking - consider a plan to simply ditch the Windows platform altogether and go with an open platform we can actually trust.

Source: PC Mag

September 30, 2012 | 12:25 PM - Posted by HyperMinimalism

What in the hell is going on???? Now if Lih-nucks was set up in a way that I could easily understand. I need a windows to linux translator. Someone please open the community for the middlemen - not in the realm of true scientificanerdamanium (C 2012 HM)nor in the realm websurfursocialite (C 2012 HM). A simple guide on how to install programs, without all the fuss of repositories, packages, sources and command line BS. I know I am stirring an ants nest here, but seriously, most people have no idea what in the hell is going on there and the amount of time to begin an ENTRY level understanding of this stuff is a complete waste of time for those of us who are more artistically minded.

Help us switch. Double click--intstall. Done. Time saved. Productivity increased.

September 30, 2012 | 02:15 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Actually Linux for the most part is not too bad. Unfortunately there are a few things you may need to do which kind-of goes down the rabbit hole but otherwise it mostly just works.

For instance, over the course of two or three days I helped my girlfriend over the phone install Linux and Windows XP on her old laptop. Apart from the dial-up modem she *much* preferred the experience with Linux and found its installation to be pretty simple. Windows installation has gotten much simpler as of Vista but then again so has Linux.

October 1, 2012 | 02:22 PM - Posted by Lord Binky (not verified)

I've installed a few different flavors of linux over time (even did the gamers edition of mandrake).

Ubuntu has come a long way into providing as much of a 'just works' setup. You can install a large amount of software from their installer platform with a few simple mouse clicks.

On top of that, most software that was not available through their installer, was still simple and straighforward. In the menu button, type 'terminal', then just cut&paste 4-5 steps from the developer's website. I agree it isn't simple as downloading an .exe and double clicking (then going through a usually annoying install process), but really opening terminal (and I enjoy the quake styled drop down terminal Guake [I bound it to F12 for quick access]) and cut&pasting some get-install command isn't REALLY worse.

September 30, 2012 | 01:27 PM - Posted by wujj123456

"without all the fuss of repositories, packages, sources and command line BS"

But the best part of Linux are repositories, packages, sources and command line. Repositories provide what Apple/Windows Store can provide, a convenient and trustful source for all your applications, just without the lock-in. Packages provides the equivalence of installers so that you can install 3rd party applications easily. Sources give you flexibility if you ever want to tailor the application to suit your need. Command line, OK, that's for power users. But I think it's better than hacking registry or group policy in Windows. In fact, I don't think even power users understand why hacking certain registry works. Howerver, it's quite easy to understand what each command means in Linux, once you know where to find the documentation (manpage).

These are all the things made me switch to Linux. If I can get most things from repository, and do simple hacking on command line, why do I want to hunting around the web just to find some sketchy program to do the simplest thing for me... You just need to get used to it. It's a different OS after all.

Over years, Linux is trying to provide easy accessiblity. If you can use Apple/Windows Store, you should be able to use some "Software Center" included in most Distro. It should help you bypass all repository problems. Packages are "double click, install" experience.

The biggest problem I see with Linux is fragmentation. You make a choice about Windows every two or three years. You have choices with Linux Distros almost every month... Even if you stick with a single Distro, say Ubuntu, it has a 6-month release cycle, which is very aggresive compared to Windows/Mac.

September 30, 2012 | 02:04 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Fragmentation is fine. The internet is about as fragmented as you can get. It leads to some bumpy times but ultimately it works out in the end.

September 30, 2012 | 01:45 PM - Posted by Zicoz (not verified)

I'm sorry, but his statements makes no sense. After all he's already god MineCraft on XCbox, IOS and Amazons App Store.

September 30, 2012 | 01:57 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

It is one thing to support a closed platform, and another thing to support a closing of a platform -- one of the last popular open platforms.

I do not support either -- but it is easy for people to not think about their freedoms when they do not realize they could have had them.

October 1, 2012 | 08:57 AM - Posted by Zicoz (not verified)

Well Microsoft isn't closing an open platform, the x86 platform is as open as it has always been, and the RT-version is a new platform closed from the start.

As Microsofts choice to control the store they really don't have a choice when it comes to the issue simply because Windows is a main stream product. And they can't risk "promoting" dangerous apps through their store. Last I heard even the most main stream version of Linux (Ubuntu) did the same with their store.

Microsoft didn't want to create a closed down Metro-version of the game, they simply wanted to help them make some small changes so that the game would pass the requirements needed to be put in the Windows Store, I'm not programmer, but it seems to me that the changes needed are more of a "best practices" kind of a thing.

October 1, 2012 | 12:16 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

The x86 platform is currently still open, even in Windows 8 -- yes.

But with Microsoft removing the start menu, burying the desktop, removing hacks to circumvent this, discouraging Visual Studio from programming non-Metro applications, releasing conveniently time reports about how no-one uses Media Center and how custom built PCs are more unstable right when they want customers to transition anyway -- just to name a few efforts -- do you really think they have no intentions of making Windows RT the future of Windows altogether?

Do you also notice how there is no defining order to Windows RT -- it is not Windows 8 RT -- just Windows RT? Isn't it weird that they do that as they push the Office 365 subscription service? I mean -- the same could be said for XP and Vista -- but to do it simultaneously to Windows 8?


They still offer Office 2013 retail copies but they are pretty clearly encouraging people to go for the subscription service.

Maybe the intent is to just migrate people to a unified "Windows" just like they want to move people to a unified "Office"?

If you think that I am wrong then you can continue to think that. Just realize that if I am right it will be harder and harder to transition to an open platform then -- which Microsoft is no doubt intending -- and the easiest time is soon approaching. The more you invest in the Metro ecosystem the harder it will be but ultimately you must.

Microsoft wants to push people past this weak transition and into the new locked in ecosystem. It will only get harder from here and Microsoft clearly has proven what they are capable of with Windows RT and Xbox.

October 2, 2012 | 08:40 AM - Posted by Zicoz (not verified)

The start menu is not removed, it is replaced by something better, something that is more functional. And the desktop in Windows 8 is not hidden, I've been using Windows 8 as my main OS since RTM, and it's great for the desktop as well with a lot of neat improvements. And Windows 8 really has a great design, on a traditional computer you'll live on the desktop and use the start screen the way you use the start menu today. While you on a tablet probably will live in the Metro-side and use the desktop only when absolutely needed.

For a company that sells as many licenses as Microsoft does "no-one" actually uses Media Center. Even if 10 million users use it's a fraction of the Windows-users. Btw, if you miss WMC, Mediaportal is a great alternative, personally I have never understood why people even use WMC for anything other then Cablecard, which is a US-only "problem".

Also they're not "conveniently timed reports" they're simply reports released to back up their own market strategies, it's nothing "dirty" about it.

The fact that they call it Windows RT and not Windows 8 RT can just as well be a proof that they actually want to differentiate Windows and Windows RT.

Microsoft has always wanted to move people to a subscription based service, and there is nothing evil about that either they simply want to have a more stable income year around.

And for end users The Office 365 Home Premoum subscription service is an insanely good deal. Something that's even mentioned in the article you link to. For $99.99 a year you get to run Office on 5 PCs simultaneously both on Mac and PC. And it's super-easy to deactivate one computer to open up for a new one. And moving from Office to something else doesn't get any harder with the subscription model.

The lack of numbering releases is all a part of the way things are headed these days. What does it matter for the end user if something is called Windows 8, 9 etc or Office is called Office 2013. The future of tech is faster updates, and if the rumor are true we'll see this happening with Windows as soon as next year when Windows is set to get a big upgrade. At that point it doesn't really make sense to have "public" version numbers.

As for transitioning to open platforms I don't see how that gets harder with Windows 8 or Metro. How is it harder to move from Metro to an open platform then from Windows 7? How is it any different then moving from say Ubuntu to Windows, or from Android to Windows Phone, or from Windows Phone to Android? You'll have to build "new" applications, but the main thing is your data not the applications.

Be it Windows, IOS, Android, Ubuntu or Windows. The lock-in for consumers comes down to one thing and that's the money they've spent on apps/applications. And that's not a "hard" lock-in, you simply have to be willing to abandon the money you have spent. Where is the difference from moving from Metro to Ubuntu or from Ubuntu to Metro? And it's not any different now that it has been in the past.

On top of that, Amazon, Microsoft and others are pushing the cloud as well, and for those that want true cross-platform scenarios that is the way to go heading forward.

October 2, 2012 | 02:47 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Cloud platforms is *not* the way to go heading forward for true cross-platform scenarios! You are just moving the platform lock-in to a platform that is not locally hosted. Now not only is your content inaccessible to you if you decide to change cloud platforms -- but you probably cannot even emulate it or host it behind a compatibility layer because it is located God-knows where.

That is not even mentioning opening yourself up to licensing structures where access to your content could be removed because of a licensing dispute.

And you are right -- Microsoft would like to transition customers to a subscription service. One which is cross platform (x86, ARM; tablet, laptop, desktop) and certified. (And, again, cert is "scary")

Legacy support is a problem for that. Don't be naive that Microsoft wouldn't like to move you to Metro-only at some point.

If you are invested in the new platform by that point moving to an open alternative will be harder than if you just bite the bullet very soon. I predict that bullet needs to be bit on a switch from Windows Legacy to Windows RT anyway. Instead of doing that -- switch to an open platform where you are reliant on a community of users, organizations, and companies for support rather than a single source.

October 1, 2012 | 12:20 PM - Posted by FnordMan (not verified)

At the rate things are going it's increasingly looking like 7 will be the last version of win i'm going to be running on the desktop.
Not going to be touching 8 with a 20' barge pole if I can otherwise avoid it. Horrible UI designed around a touchscreen that just doesn't work with a keyboard and a mouse. (yes, I tried one of the preview versions)

October 1, 2012 | 12:46 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Actually release preview and RTM works quit a bit better with keyboard and mouse than the developer or consumer preview did. I actually would be upgrading to Windows 8 if I didn't feel like Hansel and Gretle at Microsoft's door.

October 1, 2012 | 01:53 PM - Posted by Jim (not verified)

I think people are doing too much reading of the tea leaves. The store is necessary for the mobile devices. It's also necessary for Microsoft to include Metro and its store on the desktop side so they can coax developers by claiming there's 500 million metro-capable devices blah blah blah. They have made no indication that they intend to have the store be the only means to install software. First of all, the enterprise would flip its lid and sure that could be quelled by providing side-loading tools but there's already too much invested in 3rd party software distribution. Secondly, large software companies are not about to have Microsoft take some large % of their revenue by requiring them to deploy software through their store. Lastly, I really do think they care about what users think and don't want to take people's flexibility away. They know it will hurt the platform. Whatever revenue they make from the store and whatever savings or benefit they gain by being able to vet all software that can be deployed to their O/S would be washed away by people looking for the next platform they can use. I think Microsoft knows this.

October 1, 2012 | 03:08 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Of course they are not going to come right out and say it but to say they have made no indication of it is not true. If they intend for the Windows desktop to not be deprecated then why would they bother -- not just removing everything about it and relegating it to an app -- but removing as many of the hacks to reinstate functionality or enabling booting to desktop as they can? Why would their latest Visual Studio Express development tools initially deprecate support for anything non-Metro?

They will not pull away support any time in the near present -- but if they get a critical mass in Metro to lock their users in I'm quite certain they will pull the plug on the legacy.

Just like Apple did with OS9 support.

Think of how compelling it would be for Microsoft to have the entire catalog of Windows apps be "secure" and compatible across all Windows devices -- ARM, x86, or otherwise?

You're right though -- I don't see Microsoft taking 30% of software sales as their goal... but I can definitely see them forcing certification upon everything on the Windows platform just like they do on the Xbox.

Again, they have already tried it.


October 2, 2012 | 03:02 PM - Posted by amadsilentthirst

EA lost my patronage over Need For Speed.
Loved that game, bought most of them and all was good.
Then they released NFSWorld - On-line Again bought and was good.
Then they decided to make it Pay-to-win and us loyal customers who supported them and paid, were treated like poo, lied to and ignored in their forum's. The game was ruined due to influx of free users, and everything had a price.

Even their forum where we were trying to get redress was crashing, On purpose if you ask me, it was hundreds of pages of user's peeved at their treatment. The forum would not show any new posts or pages unless you specifically typed the url inc page number.
No response from EA in the end and the lies were the last straw. Will never buy anything with their name on it

October 2, 2012 | 03:32 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

I'm sorry but you will need to take the elevator up a floor to the EA post. : b

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