Microsoft's Phil Spencer Discusses UWP Concerns at Build

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 30, 2016 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, uwp, microsoft, build 2016, BUILD

When a platform vendor puts up restrictions, it can be scary, and with good cause. Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is the successor of WinRT, which, in the Windows 8 era, forced web browsers to be reskins of Internet Explorer, forced developers to get both their software and themselves certified before publishing, and so forth. They still allowed the traditional, more open, Win32 API, but locked them into “the Desktop App”.

Naturally, UWP carries similar concerns, which some developers (like Tim Sweeney of Epic Games) voiced publicly. It's more permissive, but in a brittle way. We don't want Microsoft, or someone like a government who has authority over them, to flip a switch and prevent individuals from developing software, ban content that some stakeholder finds offensive (like art with LGBT characters in Russia, the Middle East, or even North America), or ban entire categories of software like encryption suites or third-party web browsers.

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This is where we get to today's announcement.

Microsoft's Phil Spencer, essentially responding to Tim Sweeney's concerns, and the PC gaming community at large, announced changes to UWP to make it more open. I haven't had too much time to think about it, and some necessary details don't translate well to a keynote segment, but we'll relay what we know. First, they plan to open up VSync off, FreeSync, and G-Sync in May. I find this kind-of odd, since Windows 10 will not receive its significant update (“Anniversary Update”) until July, I'm not sure how they would deliver this. It seems a little big for a simple Windows Update patch. I mean, they have yet to even push new versions of their Edge web browser outside of Windows 10 builds.

The second change is more interesting. Microsoft announced, albeit without dedicating a solid release date or window, to allow modding and overlays in UWP applications. This means that software will be able to, somehow, enter into UWP's process, and users will be encouraged to, somehow, access the file system of UWP applications. Currently, you need to jump through severe hoops to access the contents of Windows Store applications.

They still did not address the issue of side-loading and developing software without a certificate. Granted, you can do both of those things in Windows 10, but in a way that seems like it could be easily removed in a future build, if UWP has enough momentum and whoever runs Microsoft at the time decides to. Remember, this would not be an insidious choice by malicious people. UWP is alluring to Microsoft because it could change the “Windows gets viruses” stigma that is associated with PCs. The problem is that it can be abused, or even unintentionally harm creators and potential users.

On the other hand, they are correcting some major issues. I'm just voicing concerns.

Source: Microsoft

March 30, 2016 | 01:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Until the desktop application API somehow goes away in the middle of the night! This is just TIFKAM renamed with the same end result of M$ closing down the third party made OEM PC/Laptop market to M$'s closed software/OS ecosystem. M$ will be in control over this closed ecosystem that will bring a phone style app forced ecosystem to PCs/laptops. Say goodby to your independence. It's M$'s monetization model that is of importance here not the end user's control over their own PC/Laptop hardware/software ecosystem.

Enjoy your eternal Lock-in UWP will make users universal windows peasants bound to their master's closed ecosystem estate, surfdom is M$'s new business model!

March 30, 2016 | 02:25 PM - Posted by BillDStrong

So, theoretically, they can update the UWP similarly to how Google updates its Google Play Services. It doesn't need a full on major update. If they built the system correctly, at least.

And Those things are likely to be more UWP related than DX, since you already have those features in DX, it would just be writing the enabling code for the UWP.

They showed steam games packaged as a UWP, which I am sure Valve won't be happy about. They say they will allow you to sell your app from any store, but no details on how they envision this to work.

March 30, 2016 | 07:13 PM - Posted by Goofus Maximus (not verified)

Would that even be delivered by Windows Update? I'd think that it would be updated like all UWP apps; through the Windows Store...

March 30, 2016 | 07:48 PM - Posted by BillDStrong

The Windows Store is a UWP app. You would most likely need to close all UWP apps for the update. Since the Start menu is now also a UWP app, that means at least logging out of Windows. Or more likely a full restart.

So no on the store thing. Remember, UWP is prvided by Windows, not the Store. The Store is merely a delivery mechanism.

March 31, 2016 | 03:32 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The most worrisome thing is how they've said they plan to open up VSync off, FreeSync, G-Sync, and how they're going to allow modding and overlays in UWP applications, it's almost like someone telling you how they'll unlock the door to your toilet and allow you to take a dump, for now at least.

March 31, 2016 | 04:54 AM - Posted by lantian (not verified)

So to give us option to disable vsync they need more than a month, are you f****ing kidding me, for what, wtf are they doing...
Either way won't be buying a single thing from that garbage store until i get real full screen(not some workaround), vsync off and a real executable file, till then microsoft can go f*** themselves

March 31, 2016 | 07:10 AM - Posted by Batismul (not verified)

You took those colorful words right out of my mouth and I agree!

April 1, 2016 | 03:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah, I'm not buying games without Linux support anymore.

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