Epic Games' Tim Sweeney: Universal Windows Platform must die

You'd think that Microsoft's move to embrace both console and PC gaming on equal footing would be welcomed with laud. And yet, aside from getting worrying questions from the console folks, Redmond is also getting some rather scathing remarks from PC gamers as well. Epic Games CEO and renowned computer graphics guru Tim Sweeney is not one to always open his mouth. So when he comes out with an op-ed that unambiguously says the Universal Windows Platform on the PC " can, should, must and will, die", you can't help but wonder why.

At its core, the Universal Windows Platform or UWP ensures that an app written with that set of APIs can be used on other Windows 10 devices, be it PC, smartphone, console, or even AR headset. At least, that's the theory, but developers are always free to limit their software to one or a few device form factors. Part of the implementation of UWP, however, is that those apps need to be installed from the Windows Store and that they run in their own sandbox. That might not be a big of a deal for an app like Facebook or Twitter, but for a game, or even a complex program like Photoshop, it makes a world of difference.

On the technical side, especially for games, it severely cripples the features that PC gamers have traditionally expected from the platform, things like modding and third party tools. The UWP's sandboxed nature prevents that from happening, though Microsoft said it is working on that.

Sweeney's beef, however, goes beyond technical considerations and onto Microsoft's business and cultural end goals. For him, Microsoft's implementation of UWP is nothing short of a betrayal of the openness of the PC which was actually instrumental in making MS-DOS and Windows a success. Sweeney said a lot, but his points can be condensed to a few concrete issues. UWP apps, for one, cannot be installed outside the Store, like you would a regular "win32" program. You cannot simply download an installer and be on your way. Or actually, it is possible to "sideload" an app like on Android, but Microsoft has obfuscated that process. Sweeney also takes issue with Microsoft providing features exclusively available to UWP only, slowly trying to push the win32 platform into obsolescence. If you ever want to access those nice features, you'd have to agree to be locked into Microsoft's Store and store alone.

Microsoft's corporate VP for Windows Kevin Gallo responded that the company continues to improve UWP's openness, like making it possible to easily sideload apps since the huge November update. Sweeney, however, advises people to judge Microsoft by its actions, not its words. Or at least not by some exec's words. He does want Satya Nadella or even Bill Gates to publicly state their commitment to the PC market and culture, specifically its openness to competitors. That, however, might be a bit of a wishful thinking.

SOURCE: The Guardian, VentureBeat