Should PC Developers worry about Windows Store?

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 5, 2016

When Microsoft launched its Windows Store alongside its then new operating system Windows 8, it was for the most part a mobile store made available on the desktop as well.

There were no win32 applications offerings in the store, and it was clear that Microsoft had to fight an uphill battle in trying to convince users and developers to give the company's new store a chance.

Many developers ignored, and are still ignoring, Windows Store even while new features and improvements are introduced to it by Microsoft.

Major apps, Instagram, Pinterest or WhatsApp are still nowhere to be seen in the latest iteration of Windows Store.

Microsoft's answer to the lack of developer interest was to create the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) which allowed developers to create one application for all devices running Windows 10.

The company pushed Windows 10 on its Xbox platform, Windows Mobile, and desktop PCs for the most part. This increased the reach of the platform significantly and allowed Microsoft, and other developers, to produce games and apps for all these platforms simultaneously and with minimal effort.

Microsoft made that clear with the announcement that major Xbox games, most thought to be exclusives for the platform, were also been made available on Windows Store for devices running Windows 10.

Rise of the Tomb Raider, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, or Quantum Break will all be made available on Windows Stores, and while most of those are produced or published by Microsoft, there is a chance that third-party developers will do the same, especially if they don't have plans to release a win32 version of a game.

That's a good thing on one hand, considering that gamers can purchase and play these games on their PCs even if they don't own a Xbox.

It reminds me however of how Microsoft tried to get users, and specifically gamers, to Windows Vista when it came out. It made a handful of games Vista exclusive, and we all know how that turned out in the end.

Epic Games' Tim Sweeney sees the UWP as "the first apparent step towards locking down the consumer PC ecosystem and monopolising app distribution and commerce".

He fears that Microsoft will force developers and companies, including his own, to distribute their software via Windows Store exclusively in the future as there is no system in place currently that allows companies to build their own version of Windows Store and distributing UWP apps and games through it.

Sweeney admits that side-loading -- the downloading and installing of apps and games from third-party sources -- is supported by the Universal Windows Platform but is difficult to enable for users and something that Microsoft could change or revoke at any time in the future.

Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's Xbox Division stated on his Twitter account that Microsoft had no intention of putting up a walled garden in regards to its Universal Windows Platform.

Windows has always been an open ecosystem welcoming the contributions of hardware and software partners, and will always continue to be. UWP is a fully open ecosystem, available to every developer, and can be supported by any store. Broad range of tools. We will discuss our next steps with the Universal Windows Platform at //build later this month.

Sweeney response was that he liked the sound of the revelation, and that he was looking forward to //build to get more details about the planned openness of the platform.

For Microsoft, UWP is a work in progress much like Windows 10 is a work in progress that evolves constantly. It is puzzling that Microsoft would not inform software companies about the company's intentions in regards to the Universal Windows Platform, but that appears to be the case.

The Build developer conference is held from March 30, to April 1, 2016 in San Francisco. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft will reveal at the conference about its plans for the Universal Windows Platform.

Should developers be worried then? I think they should be cautiously optimistic at this point in time, and wait and see what Microsoft announces during build.


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  1. Jk H said on March 5, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Microsoft is hell bent on destroying the user experience by forcing its products down the throat. They did this forced integration of Skype onto the hotmail/ web interface, forced updates on Windows, Cant count the times I had some unattended simulation running on Windows PC for hrs, only to find out that update restarted the system half hr through that time! Thank god I work exclusively on linux now.
    its a shame that general users are now sandwiched between shady google, and stupid microsoft !
    Speaking of updates, I do have the hack for this problem. Keep your C drive full. They wont be able to automatically download updates hence no restarts. Shame that it has to be done this way.

  2. Maou said on March 6, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Well, the “converted” games are sub par compared to steam’s version, they don’t have the same options like v sync or border-less fullscreen, just to name a few.
    Uwp games are worthless in the current state of affairs, and if they don’t plan to sell their “xclusives” games (Gears of war, Quantum break)on Steam that’s Microsoft loss.

    1. Joe said on May 10, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Why should Microsoft give Valve 30% of it’s game profits to Steam?

  3. Doc said on March 5, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    UWP and the App Store are unlikely to get any traction, since Microsoft wants to take 30% off the top, just like every other app store.
    On top of that, UWP/”Modern UI” apps are just the latest evolution of WinRT and .NET – a bloated, slow framework with a few good points over C++ (namely, built-in garbage collection and libraries to make development easier – but not better).
    The sooner Microsoft lets its .NET family die off (or open-sources it, to remove security flaws that seem to need patching on every Patch Tuesday, and to let devs reduce the codebase and speed it up), the better off Windows will be. Maybe Xamarin’s devs will fix it?

  4. Steve said on March 5, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    Everyone should worry about Windows Store and take measures by not using it and trying to inform everyone to not use it.

  5. Jeff said on March 5, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Honestly the way they are treating users since Windows 8 and now Windows 10, I won’t be surprised if the ability to run Win32 apps is restricted to only Enterprise and a separate Developer edition of Windows in a future “upgrade”. Consumers are stupid sheep for whom Microsoft wants to force app stores.

    I refuse to use Store apps since I have no trust over how long they will be around vs desktop apps which I can own, and will be supported for longer time and are more functional any way.

    1. David said on March 6, 2016 at 12:21 am

      Some of the desktops apps I pay for have moved to limited activations, typically two. One of them now only works offline for a limited time, and only if you enable offline mode before going offline. That means if the internet is down one day, the software won’t work. This is a specialist professional tool of high value. I haven’t updated to the new version yet for this reason, but the next release (due in a few months) has features that will save me time. What’s a man to do?

      My answer in this case if to keep the last safe version and also get the update. In this specific case the files remain compatible between versions, mitigating the problem. This isn’t a general solution though, or a long term one.

      1. Jeff said on March 6, 2016 at 10:07 am

        Just migrate away from these apps!!! They are not worth it. The great thing today is the vast amount of choices you have. You just have to get used to doing things differently in alternative apps. Yes, some features may be missing but it will have other features that are worth it. Nothing is worth limited activations or permanent internet connectivity even if it’s possible – the developer of that software should not treat you like a criminal.

  6. Alexander said on March 5, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Where was Tim Sweeney’s outcry when Apple actually started this locked-down marketplace trend? Microsoft isnt doing anything differently that what Apple successfully(!) started eight(!) years ago, and which is always presented as role model for software distribution and monetisation. And in comparison to Apple both, Microsoft and Google, do permit sideloading.

    But in in general, yes, locked-down software repositories are a problem. One of the things I complained about at

    1. Corky said on March 6, 2016 at 11:35 am

      To add to the points I’ve already made, Apple has almost always historically taken a position that it’s not an open platform unlike Microsoft and Windows.

    2. Corky said on March 5, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      Would that be the same Apple that has around 10% market share on desktops?

      Or the same Apple that was doing this sort of thing from the get go with iOS and gave people the choice of either buying into that eco-system or not.

      Or is it the Apple that didn’t create an eco-system and then pulled the rug from under everyone that adopted it 20 years later.

  7. Yuliya said on March 5, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    The best thing that Microsoft can do about its store is to remove it from Windows, along with the other annoying applications it brings by default. They’re slow and ugly and barely provide any functionality compared to the normal desktop ones.

  8. David said on March 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    I’m against it and I don’t use it at all. How many of the commenters here are using it anyway and giving it traction?

    I’m fully aware that I could sideload Windows 10 apps (if I used Windows 10), but how many apps are published outside the store? Zero. No-one publishes there apps outside the store, and when asked everyone refuses to. So there is a problem with the attitudes of Win10 app developers too.

    There’s a pretty simple solution here. Don’t support stuff you oppose, and speak out against it. Revolutionary I know. Maybe it’s crazy talk.

    And it’s not just the store that’s the problem. How many people agreed to let Microsoft removed software from their PCs (Win10 EULA)?

    I’ve been using Android on my tablet for years without the Google Play store. Granted I get APKs from Google Play using a browser and a work-around, but I don’t have Google Play, Google Play Services, or anything I don’t want. It’s not significantly inconvenient and those noisy authors who think it is essential, are simply speculating on an experience they haven’t tried.

    I do have the Amazon App Store on Android for paid-only apps and apps with extra paid content. I think it’s important to support Amazon’s offering as the only real alternative to Google Play.

    1. Neal said on March 5, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      The developers don’t have an attitude problem. Sideloading apps by default is off. Who in the right mind would develop something they hope to sell if the distribution channel for customers is closed by default? Could you see someone selling their software at Bestbuy and then putting in a instruction slip to “unlock” windows devices as a perquisite to use the software they bought with their own money? How many returns will result form something like that?

      That is one of the reason why Amazon has it’s own devices. Despite all the incentives Amazon offers to install their store on android devices few people actually do it partially because it requires doing the same exact steps like going into developers mode, which most people seeing “developer” will avoid.

      1. David said on March 6, 2016 at 12:12 am

        Plenty of software on the store is not sold and has no ads. What reason could there be for not offering it outside the store? There is a problem with the attitudes of app developers.

        You didn’t spend two seconds thinking about that comment, yet you spent at least 30s typing it. I didn’t even read the second paragraph since the first wasn’t thought out at all. Can’t you defeat your own arguments before spewing them out for the world to read?

  9. James T said on March 5, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Remember Always on with the orignal Xbox console
    Take anything Msft at face value

  10. Vrai said on March 5, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Microsoft has already shown a willingness and ability to remove software from users PC’s, without asking for consent or giving prior notice. Forced updates will only make this easier and more likely to happen in the future for PC users. I wonder if there will be a point at which PC users rebel and reject Microsoft. Perhaps ReactOS will benefit from the backlash.

    1. Tom Hawack said on March 5, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      I’m afraid those that react now and tomorrow are and will remain a minority. But I admit asking myself the same question. What the planet needs is an alternative to Microsoft targeting (honestly) the masses : many users hardly manage Windows, how would they even think of techie-oriented alternatives such as Linux?

      1. David said on March 6, 2016 at 12:30 am

        BSD is the real star of the open-OS world.

        Linux is the preppy posterboy.

  11. Corky said on March 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Windows is going to end up an open ecosystem in the same way that Android is supposedly an open ecosystem, yes you’re still going to be able to run non UWP software but that’s slowly going to become more difficult as time goes by, slowly but surely UWP will start to take center stage in both development time and prominence to the user, then they’ll start obfuscating the ability to run win32 binaries, and then when their spy…er..Telemetry shows them that most people use UWP programs they’ll start slowly removing the ability to run win32 software.

  12. C said on March 5, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Words can’t express how much I detest MS and their practices. Everything from Spyware in w10, CALs and now after 20 odd years they are turning their backs on devs who helped make them so dominant. The fact they were so complacent to do anything but rip of enterprises, business and consumers for years but now they are forced because they are afraid of losing out to Apple and Google. They are so reactionary. They are a knockoff company with an old corporate mindset, products and business model playing catchup. Windows phone, the apple store rip off, and the “app” store. I cringe whenever I see “app” on a windows platform. Just call it a program. My two cents anyway. Thanks for reading.

    1. Joe said on May 10, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      There is no spyware on Windows 10. You are clueless. The ironic thing is you probably use Google services which spy on everything you do. Yet I bet you don’t complain about it.

      “now after 20 odd years they are turning their backs on devs who helped make them so dominant”

      LOL! Microsoft and Windows is no longer dominant. I don’t know what world you’re living in.

      Your entire post is laughable BS. It’ the exact post I would expect from a Linux shill.

    2. Tom Hawack said on March 5, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      Thanks for reading? Thanks for posting! A “knockoff company with an old corporate mindset”, indeed. And that holds a monopoly….

      1. Ann said on March 7, 2016 at 5:09 pm

        well on on hand MSFT is doing great stuff and innovation in a way I held almost impossible for MSFT way of life, but they did it and it was a welcome change in the industry.
        But just a bit later they also changed their most valued software (windows) , taking the worst from facebook, Google, Apple and windows 1.0 (non graphical user design)

        do I now trust MSFT for leaving Win32 available ?
        No I don’t !
        If Windows 10 market share will not reach their targets, they will search for even more ways to force ppl to 10.

    3. Jeff said on March 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Could not agree more. They are ruining windows, and it makes me sad.

  13. neal said on March 5, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Of course they will lock it down. Take for example, Slysoft’s AnyDVD. Could you see that ever being in any store? It finally closed down b/c of legal trouble in whatever country they were based in, and not b/c MS could/would bar any win32 application.

    Any software past/current/future that is in the grey have the most to lose.

    1. Doc said on March 5, 2016 at 10:21 pm

      Slysoft has been reborn as RedFox…just moved from Antigua to Belize.

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