The Decline of the Open Platform

Tim Anderson’s Mac App Store, Windows Store, and the decline of the open platform reports two complaints: Gabe Newell’s (Valve) about the upcoming Windows 8 app store, and Sherman Dickman’s (Postbox) about the existing Mac OS X app store. Newell hates losing his Steam business; Dickman hates conforming to app store restrictions.

What a coincidence! Guess who featured prominently in my own rant about poorly written Windows programs that can’t handle 120 dpi mode? That’s right, Postbox itself and a game I got through Steam. Here I’m neither defending Apple’s more absurd policies nor blaming Valve for someone else’s bugs, but I do claim that a Windows app store with mandatory certification would have prevented those countless broken UIs that every 120 dpi user has suffered through since that mode was introduced with Windows XP. (Valve could perform basic testing but they don’t – they are happy to just take your money.)

As far as I’m concerned, no one who perpetuates this sorry situation should complain about feeling unduly constrained. And as Tim Anderson observes, the app store should help prevent the malware infestation that plagues Windows systems:

Instinctively I dislike these lockdowns, yet I also see their merit. Recently I found myself helping a user clean up their Windows 8 Release Preview system, which already had unwanted software on it, put there by installers that foist unrelated software on users who forget to uncheck a box, including toolbars and security software. Vendors have abused the freedom that Windows gives them.

As a developer who is invested in open source I dislike “walled gardens”, but speaking as a user… they can’t come fast enough. Third parties brought this unto themselves.

2013-05-16: There’s also the malware angle. A recent F-Secure survey found that Android is disproportionally targeted by malware. The Android malware ecosystem is beginning to resemble that which surrounds Windows, and for the same reasons: users not updating their systems, and an open API that lets third-party software do whatever it wants.

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