Epic Games’ co-founder and Unreal Engine creator Tim Sweeney jumped on Twitter to voice his opinion about Microsoft’s rumored “cloud” version of Windows 10. He calls it “Windows 10 Crush Steam Edition” because this version of Microsoft’s platform apparently locks the end user down to the Windows Store, preventing the installation of traditional software sold elsewhere.
“Looks like Microsoft was waiting till after the election to see if they could get away with their lockdown,” he said.
Windows 10 Cloud was originally thought to be a cloud-based version of Windows 10 that would stream to devices of any size and architecture. But sources stated that Microsoft is creating a version of Windows 10 to compete directly with Google’s Chrome OS platform installed on Chromebooks. Windows 10 Cloud would be lightweight, highly responsive, and would only rely on apps distributed through the Windows Store.
That has seemingly pushed Sweeney to jump back on his Windows 10 soapbox — he has been very vocal about the Windows Store and how it presents a “walled garden.” Software sold through Microsoft’s embedded storefront must meet specific guidelines, and must use the company’s Universal Windows Platform model. Thus, unlike Steam and Amazon, Windows 10 users browsing through the Windows Store can’t purchase just any piece of software.
To some degree, Microsoft is treating Windows 10 like a hybrid platform. On the one hand, it’s pushing self-contained “mobile” apps through a platform-locked storefront. On the other hand, the company enables Windows 10 users to install (side-load) traditional desktop software that can be purchased anywhere. However, Windows 10 apps sold through the Windows Store take advantage of special features not offered to traditional software developers.
But with the possible introduction of Windows 10 Cloud, customers won’t have the option of installing the Steam client and purchasing traditional PC gaming software. It’s reminiscent of the days when Microsoft sold Surface devices with Windows RT, which was designed for the ARM processor architecture and could not run traditional desktop software (Win32) based on the x86 processor architecture (Intel, AMD).
“The trouble started when Microsoft began shipping some PCs and regular Surfaces that were so locked down that you couldn’t run Win32 apps; you could only run apps that had been bought from their store. That is a complete travesty.” Sweeney said last year.
Sweeney thinks that Microsoft doesn’t believe in the openness the company is preaching with Windows 10. He thinks the company is performing a series of “sneaky maneuvers” with Windows 10 that will make using traditional software difficult on the platform, driving users into the Windows Store.
“Slowly, over the next five years, they will force-patch Windows 10 to make Steam progressively worse and more broken,” he said. “They’ll never completely break it, but will continue to break it until, in five years, people are so fed up that Steam is buggy that the Windows Store seems like an ideal alternative.”
But with Windows 10 Cloud, there won’t be any possibility of using Steam. Is Sweeney’s prophecy coming true?