Tim Sweeney lays out a plan to make Microsoft's UWP more open


— 9:14 AM on March 11, 2016

Tim Sweeney's blistering criticism of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) last week certainly got Microsoft's attention. Shortly after his op-ed was published, Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, took to Twitter to state that "UWP is a fully open ecosystem, available to every developer, and can be supported by any store." Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president of Windows, echoed that message. Now Sweeney is back with a new op-ed, and he remains unconvinced. He also calls for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to pledge to the games industry that Windows will remain an open platform.

Sweeney says a prime motivation for the UWP is to provide sandboxing and improve application security on the Windows platform. He says this is a good idea, and acknowledges it's difficult to do this with the old Win32 APIs in use today "because they are both extraordinarily broad in extent and extraordinarily constrained by the backward-compatibility requirements."

Sweeney doesn't like the accessibility of Microsoft's current implementation of UWP, though. He says the company is the "sole arbiter of which developers and apps are allowed on the Windows platform." He also says UWP apps must be digitally signed by Microsoft's own DRM. Instead, he'd prefer developers have the ability to obtain digital certificates from third-party certificate authorities, just as webmasters secure their sites today.

Once again, Sweeney provides a recipe for how UWP can, in his view, be made into an open ecosystem. In short, he wants users to be able to download UWP apps from any source, and let developers sign their own apps. He also wants third-party stores to have control over their own UWP apps, and allow commerce to be carried on outside of the Microsoft store. Finally, he argues the term "sideloading" should be done away with, as it implies such apps are "second-class citizens."

It will be interesting to see how Microsoft responds to Sweeney's latest post. We may learn more about the future of UWP at the company's Build Conference for developers coming up on March 30th.

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