By Shelby Steiner
I’m probably in the minority on this subject.
By now you all have undoubtedly heard of something regarding the Universal Windows Platform. If you aren’t familiar with the news, take a moment to read about Tim Sweeney’s opinion on UWP. Mr. Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, is iconic in the gaming community as one of the key figures in the creation of Unreal Engine and the Gears of War series that has recently spoken out against UWP.
Sweeney’s criticism about UWP has sparked an uproar in the PC gaming community, but the controversy surrounding the platform is ludicrous. Sweeney is certainly entitled to feel the way he does, but his entire stance is conjecture at best. Sure, Microsoft has a history with being on the wrong side of gaming, but the current concerns lodged against Microsoft and UWP are essentially conspiracy theory.
His fears are based entirely on what he assumes Microsoft will do with UWP.
WHAT IS THE UNIVERSAL WINDOWS PLATFORM?
UWP is a format of application that allows developers of software to create apps that can work across a myriad of devices without the need to be ported manually. By developing an application or games as a UWP app, developers can ensure that the app will work on all the devices that they want to release it on as long as those devices are running a UWP compatible OS like Windows 10. For instance, instead of making an app for Windows 10, tablets, and phones separately; a developer can create a UWP app that will work on all three with one program code.
This platform also allows programs to be kept up-to-date without the user being forced to track down an update for it, much like the way that games can be updated on Steam. It essentially allows Windows 10 devices to have a universal, curated store that can be maintained easier.
The problem with Sweeney’s (and his fellow bandwagon riders’) assertion that Microsoft is trying to lock down the PC marketplace is that they can’t, even if they tried. And this is assuming that locking down the PC is something they’re attempting to do in the first place. Keep in mind that UWP is something that they introduced as a tool for software developers to use to help them reach a wider group of users with greater ease, and make it easier for those users to safely use those products.
Much like the iOS App Store and Google Play, apps created with UWP would be kept under a watchful eye to help avoid users downloading and installing harmful data and make it simpler for users to install programs on their device. iOS and Android users already enjoy the benefits of this on their respective platforms; they can install virtually any app with the comfort of knowing that their device isn’t going to end up doing something it isn’t supposed to. In the PC world, that is a godsend.
Now, back to the alleged fight between Microsoft and the users of the Windows OS. Sweeney’s hand-wringing over UWP can be assuaged easily: using UWP isn’t necessary.
Microsoft isn’t forcing anyone to create apps using UWP. Sure, there can be features that they might make exclusive to UWP but I have yet to find any.
Microsoft isn’t killing Win32, they’re even bringing Win32 applications into the Windows 10 App Store soon.
SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE GAMERS?
The idea that Sweeney asserts is that Microsoft is attempting to force everyone into using the UWP format and thereby forcing them to use their storefront. The only example I’ve found of this is Quantum Break, a Windows exclusive that was developed specifically for Microsoft platforms. Any other game releasing for PC will still be downloadable on Steam, GoG, Origin, or Uplay; just as they’ve always been. The difference is that there will be a new competitor in the market in the form of Microsoft’s storefront.
The Universal Windows Platform wasn’t created by Microsoft as some sort of ploy to destroy competition. The same competition that has made Windows the most popular OS for gaming.
So don’t worry, Microsoft isn’t taking away Steam.
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