Tim Sweeney says that Microsoft will "force-patch Windows 10 to make Steam progressively worse and more broken" | PCGamesN

Tim Sweeney says that Microsoft will "force-patch Windows 10 to make Steam progressively worse and more broken"

Tim Sweeney

Update July 27, 2016: We reached out to Microsoft for a response to the comments made by Sweeney and they replied.

Following Sweeney's accusations that Microsoft could perhaps try force people over to their platform by weakening others, the company have responded, albeit indirectly.

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“As stated previously, the Universal Windows Platform is an open ecosystem that is available to every developer, and can be supported by any store," a Microsoft spokeseperson told us. "With the UWP in its infancy, we recognise areas of improvement and aim to make Windows the best development platform regardless of technologies used.”

Update July 26, 2016: Tim Sweeney's been decrying Microsoft's treatment of the Windows platform again, including a not insignificant amount of doomsaying.

Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney has long been a detractor of Windows 10, the Universal Windows Platform and Microsoft in general. Now, in an interview with Edge, he's gotten even more savage than normal.

First, Sweeney's explanantion of the differences between the UWP system and the current one - Win32.

"There are two programming interfaces for Windows and every app has to choose one of them," he  says. "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."

So what's the problem? Well, Sweeney sees a possible future where Microsoft start to lock things down by "phasing out" Win32 apps by convincing everyone to use UWP.

"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."

As for Steam, Sweeney says that Microsoft are going to target it through deliberately bad patches.

"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."

This does seem to assume that Valve wouldn't be able to fix Steam to work despite Microsoft, and that the Microsoft store wouldn't be a legitimately good option. Closing off the ecosystem would also prevent, for example, businesses creating apps for use in-house - doesn't seem like a great business move. We've contacted Microsoft for comment on Sweeney's thoughts.

Thanks, PCG.

Original story April 1, 2016: At their //Build/ conference, Microsoft are diving deep into the techy side of their business. It’s not all directly related to games, but much of it deals with the backend programming that supports what we play. Specifically they’ve been talking about their new Universal Windows Platform app model that’s proved controversial so far. Epic’s Tim Sweeney, who has been the loudest industry figure discussing UWP in recent weeks, has said on Twitter that while he likes what Microsoft are saying now about the system, they need to fully commit to it being open to use by developers and won’t change in the future.

At //Build/, group program manager for the UWP project Andrew Clinick gave an hour-long talk about why they’re making it, what it’s for and how it will help developers.

On Twitter, Sweeney reacted with cautious optimism, seeming pleased with what Clinick was saying about what was possible with UWP.

However, what he wants out of Microsoft is a total commitment that the open nature of UWP will remain, and won’t be patched out later. Them just saying it isn’t enough for him, and he has specific demands that were detailed in a VentureBeat post.

He says Epic still won't be targeting UWP with the current plans until he's satisfied that Microsoft won't pull the code-rug from under their digi-legs. A fair position to be in when you're talking about games developed by massive numbers of people, and a pretty large standing down from last month.

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AnAuldWolf avatarBelimawr avatarMrAptronym avatar0V3RKILL avatarAnakhoresis avatarAever avatar+2
MrAptronym Avatar
1 Year ago

I think Sweeny is going too far here, but I also think it is weird to say "that's fine as long as the Microsoft store is good" as this article seems to? I do think they will try and push UWP and are trying hard to position Microsoft's store as the default shop for UWP programs, but I am not sure they will go to sabotage.

0V3RKILL Avatar
1 Year ago

if only steamos had a way to play all dx games I would use that right now. Valve needs to make that happen already. I don't care if it performs slower, I'll take it. Microsoft needs a competitor. Though I don't think we should freak out cause sabotaging another software is not legal.

MrAptronym Avatar
1 Year ago

It's not just DX, there are a lot of complexities in making a program designed for Windows function in Linux. You have to reimplement huge swaths of calls and features, and you need to do so legally, without stealing code. When games take advantage of weird behaviors and undocumented features, you need to have that working as well.

Sure, some programs can be made to work, but the more intricate the program, the harder that becomes. Valve can't just make it happen, they have to solve all the real engineering problems, and that takes manpower (and thus money) and ingenuity.

AnAuldWolf Avatar
1 Year ago

The update rings hollow, doesn't it? Vulkan is picking up steam (heh) purely because game developers don't buy what Microsoft is selling. It's due to the fact that Microsoft keeps putting the wrong people in key places.

Windows 7 was okay. Windows 8 was a terrible tablet-focused mess that happened because of a reshuffling that lead to Microsoft trying to be Apple. Another reshuffling brought us Windows 10, Windows as a service. Where people obsessed with Teh Klowd took up key positions.

And those Klowders are the ones who tried to push spying on Windows 7 and 8, forced updates on Windows 7 and 8, and the ones who're now considering making Windows 10 a paid subscription service.

So yeah.

AnAuldWolf Avatar
2 Years ago

Heh. It's funny because they know as well as I do that that's not Microsoft. They're just making a big show of 'extending an olive branch out to MS' before convincing the PC arm of the games industry to swing around to their way of thinking. Basically: Vulkan support.

And they have a lot of good bullet points, don't they?

- Why pay for a Microsoft SDK ever again?

- Why limit yourself to Windows 10 (or even 8) for certain DirectX-like features, when you could get their equal elsewhere?

- Why buy into Microsoft's silly UWP just to create a partially cross-platform title, when you can have a truly cross-platform title instead?

- Why continue to worry about every system having its own archaic API just because one manufacturer is standing in the way of proper API unification?

Frankly, considering that Sony, Nintendo, and Google are all so into this, I could see it being a thing where most engines will follow suit after Unreal Engine and you'll just be able to easily bake Windows (7/8/10), Linux/SteamOS, Android (phone and tablet), Nintendo NX, and PS4 versions without the extra headaches. I imagine that this is something that the mainstream gaming industry wants as much as the indie devs would.

I can't help being a fanboy. I like -properly- unifying systems that allow me to have the OS I want to have, not the one Microsoft wants me to have. Microsoft can pretend that UWP is unifying all they want, but it's really, really not. It's only unifying across the latest versions of Microsoft products, which is hardly unifying at all.

I still remember an image from the 2014 GDC that sums this up perfectly.


Microsoft hates older versions of Windows and wants to force all of their users to upgrade as soon as possible, whether they want it or not. Even going so far as to impose shady forced upgrades when people opted out of Windows 10 upgrades. To Microsoft, every version other than their very latest is ancient and deserves no support. That's not the OS provider I want in charge.

Microsoft is standing in the way of Universal unification and cross-platform releases of this ilk. And Epic has been VERY vocal in the past about how much they hate that. So this doesn't surprise me at all.

Belimawr Avatar
1 Year ago

if it was as simple as use Vulkan they already would since it still runs in windows, the sad fact is as it stands DX is still easier and better for developers and end of the day developers will go for easy.

it's why there was a massive change in attitude from the PS3 to PS4, the PS3 was designed to be hard to exclude poor developers and discourage the crap titles, as a side effect companies like Valve outsourced to people like EA to get their games made for playstation meaning the games often came out later in a worse state, moving forward they went the inclusive route making it as easy as possible because end of the day the only thing developers care about is how easy is it.

so really if you want to strip developer dependence on DX you need to find a solution that is as easy to use and has as many features, unfortunately no version of OpenGL or the other alternatives have managed that so it won't happen any time soon.

so really if you want an alternative to DX that is cross platform you need a tool that is as easy to use and gives developers reason to go for it and unfortunately the nature of open software will always turn off developers, it is the same reason despite Android being dominant most firms will target iOS, as with iOS you know you have one standard, in Android just on the OEM roms you could see a different ROM in every phone from a single manufacturer never mind across all of them. it is the same reason that has always held back Linux. so really what you need is a unified closed system like DX rather than an open system, it's sad but it is true, developers will always take the closed system as it will always be the easier option even if it is less popular.

Anakhoresis Avatar
1 Year ago

I'm not sure what you mean when you say their update doesn't directly address his claims, Ben. He had two claims: removing/phasing out Win32 and sabotaging Steam.

Win32: "Make Windows the best development platform regardless of technology"

Steam: "Open to any store"

That seems pretty direct to me.

EDIT: I mean, the irony is that they've already said this multiple times, so it's a question of whether they're going to do it or not. You can choose to believe that they're not going to, and we'll see, but otherwise it's just assumption. You didn't really need to reach out to Microsoft to address Sweeney's worries because they already have, he's just saying he doesn't believe it.

Aever Avatar
1 Year ago

Neah, he is wildly exaggerating.

First of all, I don't trust Microsoft to keep following a strategy for long enough to make something like this possible. They have a history of making and abandoning plans, turning decisions around in the space of a few years. So no, I don't believe Microsoft is even capable of this.

Second, if Microsoft pushes this too far, people will push back with more and more Linux compatibility for games. At this point, that is probably the biggest threat for Microsoft and I see UWP as a response to it. Realistically speaking, most developers make games for consoles first, then PC. Giving them means to make that process easier is probably Microsoft bid to attract them to their platform.

A "war" between MS and Valve is a good thing. Valve has been monopolizing the PC gaming market for far too long. Sadly, I was hoping for more open platforms like GoG, not even more closed ones like MS store.

Jezcentral Avatar
1 Year ago

That latest update from the Microsoft spokesperson yet again misses the point. They need to come out and say _it will always be open_.

Ben Barrett Avatar
1 Year ago

It is difficult for companies that will be held to account to make promises about the future. That said, I agree.