It's well established that Tim Sweeney, co-founder of Epic Games and co-creator of the Unreal Engine, is not a fan of where Microsoft is headed with Windows 10. He's criticised the Universal Windows Platform twice this year, claiming that it's an attempt by Microsoft to monopolise what has traditionally been a happily open platform.
Now, in an interview with Edge Magazine, Sweeney has become even more direct in his criticisms, claiming that future updates to Windows 10 could serve to erode the usefulness of third-party applications and storefronts like Steam.
"There are two programming interfaces for Windows and every app has to choose one of them," he said. "Every Steam app – every PC game for the past few decades – has used Win32. It’s been both responsible for the vibrant software market we have now, but also for malware. Any program can be a virus. Universal Windows Platform is seen as an antidote to that. It’s sandboxed – much more locked down."
"The risk here is that, if Microsoft convinces everybody to use UWP, then they phase out Win32 apps. If they can succeed in doing that then it’s a small leap to forcing all apps and games to be distributed through the Windows Store. Once we reach that point, the PC has become a closed platform. It won’t be that one day they flip a switch that will break your Steam library – what they’re trying to do is a series of sneaky manoeuvres. They make it more and more inconvenient to use the old apps, and, simultaneously, they try to become the only source for the new ones."
While that could technically be true, how could Microsoft ever hope to bring down something as gargantuan as Steam, either intentionally or inadvertently? Sweeney believes they have a plan for that.
"Slowly, over the next five years, they will force-patch Windows 10 to make Steam progressively worse and more broken. 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. That’s exactly what they did to their previous competitors in other areas. Now they’re doing it to Steam. It’s only just starting to become visible. Microsoft might not be competent enough to succeed with their plan, but they’re certainly trying."
Sweeney has previously said that the PC has remained at the vanguard of graphics innovation because it's an open platform. Microsoft's supposed attempts to turn Windows into a closed platform risks neutering new breakthroughs such as VR before they've had a chance to flourish.