Walled Gardens Lack Exotic FloraSunday, July 29, 2012 at 08:25 PM
So, recent news is that Gabe Newell is apparently calling Windows 8 a catastrophe. I don't necessarily disagree with him, and that's because Microsoft is making that bad decision of following Apple's lead, in making all software available through an app store (well, all software that runs on the "metro" interface). This so-called "walled garden" approach is never a good answer, for the reason I stated metaphorically in the title.
The biggest problem with an app store is that it restricts development. Ignoring the 30% cut that Microsoft gets of all sales through the store (Apple does the same), everything that appears in the store has to be approved. We see this issue in Apple's app store, where they remove apps for arbitrary reasons, or don't allow any apps that might do something similar to what they already made ones for. One of the reasons Android is popular is because, while it has the Google Play store, it also allows you to install apps from anywhere. You write or download an Android app, and you can run it. One of the better things about Windows was that there was no dearth of applications for it to do just about anything—because anyone could write them, put them online for you to download, and you could run them. Yes, this led to there being more malware for Windows, but in this case I'd argue the benefits outweigh the detriments. When you close off that avenue, you've destroyed one of the valuable things about Windows—its openness. You've begun restricting users and keeping them from being able to do what they want with a product that they purchased from you, and that seems just downright silly. Yes, you can switch to Linux, and Dell has begun offering Ubuntu laptops (I also run Linux on my laptop, to the flavor of Fedora 17), but many don't necessarily want to switch their whole operating system. Sure, many Windows users don't care much about anything but having a machine that does Google and Facebook, much the same as many Mac users, but many other Windows users choose Windows over Apple because it's more open and they have more ability to do what they want with their own computer. When you remove that, you remove the motivation of many of your customers to buy your product. And that's just stupid.