Microsoft is in hot water with developers over a new Windows feature that could lock down games and control the PC market.
It’s all because of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), a new programming application for Windows 10.
UWP is supposed to let studios make a single version of a game that would then run on all Microsoft devices, including Windows 10 computers, Windows smartphones and tablets, and the Xbox One console.
That should be a good thing, right? Not according to Epic Games – the studio responsible for Gears of War. When the head of the team that created one of Microsoft’s most loved console exclusives is taking a stand, you know it’s serious.
Tim Sweeney publicly shamed Microsoft in a Guardian editorial today, saying “[Microsoft is] curtailing users’ freedom to install full-featured PC software, and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers.”
Games and apps must be licensed by Microsoft to use UWP, and using the tech would let Microsoft control its sale – keeping UWP titles on the WIndows Store and keeping them off other digital retailers like Valve’s Steam.
Because Microsoft plans to update UWP with new features that won’t be supported on older development systems, studios would have to use it if they want to stay at the cutting edge. Microsoft hasn’t explicitly said what could get added in the future, but a new, UWP-only version of DirectX isn’t out of the question.
There are more techy reasons to be wary of UWP too.
Windows sees a UWP app as an .appX file, rather than the standard .exe. That stops you from adding UWP games to Steam, and means frame rate or chat overlays won’t work.
You won’t be able to download and install them from the web, either – at least not easily. Microsoft will let you “side-load” UWP apps, but it’s a convoluted process.
Sweeney used his editorial to offer alternatives, including making UWP apps available for download outside of the Windows 10 store, and making them available for sale through third party channels like Steam or Good Old Games.
Microsoft has already shot back a reply, with corporate VP Kevin Gallo telling the Guardian that “the Universal Windows Platform is a fully open ecosystem, available to every developer, that can be supported by any store.”
Only it isn’t supported right now – and if more devs start airing their grievances Microsoft might be forced to rethink the whole idea.
This article originally appeared at Stuff.tv