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Why Microsoft Shouldn't Copy Apple's iOS Walled Garden 244

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-hollywood-says-copying-is-wrong dept.
Kethinov writes "Will the computers of the future be tools for freedom or for censorship? An insightful Ars editorial examines this question in depth, concluding that Apple's walled garden approach to iOS is fundamentally flawed and thus Microsoft should reconsider their plans to apply the same model to WinRT. The authors are careful to present a nuanced analysis that adequately weighs the competing interests of security, convenience, and user freedom, ultimately concluding that Mac OS X and Android offer better models because while their walled gardens are on by default, they offer supported mechanisms to opt-out if desired, thereby offering users the same security and convenience benefits without sacrificing user freedom in the process." A similar article by software engineer Casey Muratori looks at the effect Windows 8's closed distribution system will have on game development. The restrictions involved in getting approval for the Windows Store would preclude 2011's game of the year, Skyrim, from appearing there, as well as 2012's top candidates. The requirements contain clauses that would cut out huge swathes of the video game industry, like this one: "Your app must not contain content or functionality that encourages, facilitates, or glamorizes illegal activity."
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Why Microsoft Shouldn't Copy Apple's iOS Walled Garden

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:41PM (#41675211)

    Go buy an XBox if you want to play games. Microsoft doesn't really care if you can't play top-shelf titles on Windows 8, and would probably prefer the hassle of not supporting DirectX for the general PC class systems. They'd be much happier selling you an XBox. Not only does it lock you into their console, it helps lock game developers into their console too.

    • by v1 (525388) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:52PM (#41675337) Homepage Journal

      the xbox's walled garden makes a good statement about what MS does with walled gardens. drives the devs insane. charging devs to push updates. good idea! lets discourage bug fixes and updates! *sigh*

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228)

        This would be the perfect opportunity to do what Shuttleworth SHOULD have done, take the BSD codebase, build a proprietary UI designed for ease of use, ala Apple, but gear it more towards games and kiss Valve's ass, telling them they'll get to be the company to sell apps and games on the platform exclusively.

        Although personally? I'm predicting Win 8 craters, Ballmer decides to "pursue other interests" which will be corporate speak for quitting before he gets fired after claiming Win 8 is a hit by claiming e

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)

        The other XBox precedent is tying. They bought up Bungie and Halo which was going to be Mac and PC and made it XBox exclusive at a point when Halo was likely to be smash hit and the XBox's viability was still in doubt. So Halo essentially made the XBox a viable console.

        Admittedly they did release a PC version a year later, but a year old video game is like reheated lunch. Halo 2 was a Vista exclusive and was released two years after the Xbox version.

        In fact this is an amusing example of how tying is self de

        • WP7 never had native code and never will. WP8 will, but it completely replaces the WP7 ecosystem with an incompatible one.

          Not true at all. After reading this [phonearena.com], it's clear that the WP7 ecosystem will work on WP8, albeit with a few little tweaks here and there (like going from XP to Vista/7 in a way).

        • a year old video game is like reheated lunch

          Nintendo makes money selling decades-old video games in Virtual Console on Wii. Heck, The Tetris Company makes money selling the rules of a decades-old video game to developers.

      • by Waccoon (1186667)

        lets discourage bug fixes and updates!

        The sad thing is that it usually works. I'm always amazed at how many fewer bugs there are in console games compared to PC titles... and I don't mean things like graphics glitches. I'm not saying it's a good thing, but console games genuinely do function better than PC games.

        the xbox's walled garden makes a good statement about what MS does with walled gardens.

        I was okay with that, because you don't buy a console to do general purpose stuff. You buy it for a very limited number of tasks (unlike a PC or potentially future tablets).

        What drove me to stop using my XBox wasn't the walled garden

        • the xbox's walled garden makes a good statement about what MS does with walled gardens.

          I was okay with that, because you don't buy a console to do general purpose stuff. You buy it for a very limited number of tasks (unlike a PC or potentially future tablets).

          Say I want to buy a device to play a game and user-created mods to that game. This is "a very limited number of tasks", yet the forced curation of the consoles interferes with even this task. Very few console games support user-created mods compared to PC games.

    • by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:19PM (#41675685)
      What about the AV companies? If every program is scanned and explicitly approved, what do you need virus scanning for?
      • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @08:11PM (#41676173)

        Perhaps because new exploits in existing software are found? Sometimes data has a virus payload etc. Win 8 still has a full blown desktop OS in it that doesn't have a walled garden and has all the registry and other circa 1990 stuff we've all grown to love. MS app compatibility story extends to virus writers :)

      • by grantek (979387)

        This is actually a good point - Microsoft have gone through decades of pain being the target of malware, have suffered through it, and at this point have something of an immune system developed with Security Essentials and the ecosystem of third-party anti-malware. It's definitely an advantage over Apple, whether or not it's the best way to go.

    • Too bad they've built the OS shell on top of DirectX then. Must be a huge hassle. Must be horrible for the XBox team to have a pretty solid, reliable, tested and supported by major hardware vendors 2D/3D/Audio/Input software stack to work with.
    • by lightknight (213164) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @08:25PM (#41676299) Homepage

      Dude, it's a heavy handed attempt at controlling the market, and Microsoft is going to FEEL the magnitude of its mistake here. Even Apple isn't feeling so hot, as without S. Jobs's charisma field, the company is suddenly sitting out in the open with a target on its back.

      MS wants to copy Apple in that respect, which would be fine, except MS isn't Apple. Ballmer doesn't have charisma, and certainly doesn't have S. Jobs's ability to bend reality around 'The Chosen.' As such, he's making a hideous mistake (this is going to hurt, like a blow to the solar plexus).

      Between their sad attempts at market segregation (Windows 7 with its dozen or so editions, just spreading confusion), and now their attempt to dictate to developers what will and will not run on their OS (that'll end well), I would short MS's stock immediately after their Windows 8 blowout (I imagine the stock will rise for a few months, after they mention that it now accounts for 80% of their OS sales or something (nevermind that the OEMs will be using the downgrade clause), after which some news report will mention that people hate it, with a sudden drop in stock price, as the bad news press really starts rolling).

      MS had a choice between investing in DRM, a wonky GUI, and a walled garden, or a better GUI, better communications, and moving everything out of unmanaged land. Guess which one it chose? If you are thinking "money grab," you would be correct.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        I agree with everything you said except one...Win 7 only has 3 versions, and most people will only ever run into 2 which frankly they can't tell the difference between. The ONLY units you see coming with Basic anymore is the teeny tiny niche of bargain basement Intel netbooks, the AMD netbooks coming with Home, and pretty much everything else is Home or Pro, that's it. And as far as Joe average is concerned there is NO difference between the 2 as the two main limitations of Home, no AD and RAM limit of 16gb

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Go buy an XBox if you want to play games.

      Windows games aren't competing against Xbox. Try getting something like Civ or Supreme Commander playable on an Xbox (cluebat: you cant and THQ ruined the Sup Com series by trying).

      Windows 8 for gamers is competing against Windows 7. If Windows 8 sucks for gamers, we'll stick to Win 7. If MS doesn't get the message we'll end up moving to Linux (mac is a non starter due to paying $1500 for a machine with a 5400 RPM HDD and Intel GMA) as Valve is already looking at a Linux version of Steam. Restricting gam

    • by oakgrove (845019)

      Go buy an XBox if you want to play games. Microsoft doesn't really care if you can't play top-shelf titles on Windows 8, and would probably prefer the hassle of not supporting DirectX for the general PC class systems. They'd be much happier selling you an XBox. Not only does it lock you into their console, it helps lock game developers into their console too.

      This is not remotely insightful. MS is positioning Windows 8 as a tablet OS to compete with the iPad and Android. Games are extremely important in that arena and the better the games the more likely people will buy your product. MS knows this so, yes, they most certainly do care about DX and the suitability of W8 for gaming.

    • Go buy an XBox if you want to play games.

      Requiring all games to be made for a video game console with forced curation risks creating a scenario where a game is censored simply because its developer is too small. This has already happened in one well-known case on a console platform other than Microsoft's. How are small developers supposed to be nurtured into large, profitable developers under such a scenario?

  • They will do it poorly, but it might be very profitable. And who cares about all that 'freedom' crap? 'Freedom' doesn't sell. It's a very tiny fringe market.

    • by dadioflex (854298)
      Which is the problem. Obviously I haven't read the article but I highly doubt it is going to persuade Microsoft that they shouldn't copy Apple's, successful and highly profitable, strategy.
  • by Tough Love (215404) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:52PM (#41675341)

    Microsoft should by all means copy Apple's walled garden model. Then they can both proceed straight to hell, holding hands.

  • Why post this now? GA is 10 days away and it's far too late for some whining on slashdot to make a difference. Why not post this a year ago when the dev preview came out?
    • by Microlith (54737)

      People were complaining about this a year ago as well. It's just taken a long time for the naysayers to realize that, yes, Microsoft is going the iOS route with WinRT.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        Yeah there are a handful of RMS faithfuls that are upset about it. But at this point Windows 8 is going to happen whether slashdotters get their panties in a bunch or not. So I really just don't get the point of having a big circle jerk over it. It's not news anymore.
        • by Microlith (54737)

          You sound hurt that people are discussing it. Should we sit back and just, you know, ignore it?

          Or does any somewhat negative discussion of lock down immediately send you into a shitfit over "RMS faithfuls?" Your post history suggests you are highly defensive regarding Windows and Microsoft as a whole, and extremely anti-Linx/anti-Android. Is it personal?

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @06:58PM (#41675421)
    Of all the approaches available to them, which would make Microsoft the most money? Including both direct profits, and any future benefits which might be had by increasing Microsoft's effective influence to further profit in related areas.

    That is what the executives at Microsoft are asking. They don't care about openness, or user freedom, or anything else like that - except in so far as it affects the success of the company. So work out the answer to that question, and you can predict Microsoft's future actions.

    The answer looks clear to me. A manditory app store would not only make Microsoft a fortune, but save them from the problem of needing to run an eternal upgrade cycle to keep users constantly buying new software. The power it gave them would also open up untold opportunity in other areas - they could use it to mandate support or lack of support for specific technologies (eg, no OpenGL-compatible games permitted), or prohibit software that could compete with Microsoft's own.
    • Beyond that, the market is already prime for an app store. Both Apple and Google have them, and this is going to be the expectation of most consumers. The market share of those who want greater control to put applications on their devices is probably a very small portion of the total smart device market, so it's not as if make a more open device is somehow going to make Microsoft oodles of extra money, and beyond that, control of the ecosystem has been proven very successful, and incurs certain advantages.

  • by Aphrika (756248) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:00PM (#41675455)
    That's for Metro apps. Skyrim is a Win32 app. Sure, the Metro bit is a walled garden, but the Win32 bit is still as open as ever on x86, you simply just avoid ARM based Win RT devices... job done.
    • by Githaron (2462596)
      One step at a time. If Microsoft can get people entrenched into the Windows Metro OSes by Windows 9 or 10, they will force all apps to come from the Microsoft's store. From a greedy bastard standpoint, they have no reason not to.
    • There's no technical reason for Skyrim not to appear in the Windows Store other than the sandbox and the store restrictions, however.

    • you simply just avoid ARM based Win RT devices

      Should Windows RT become popular (which I admit is unlikely), good luck getting all your customers to do the same. Just like good luck getting console gamers to buy a PC to put in their living rooms, even if nearly every HDTV does have VGA and HDMI inputs to display video, and even if PCs do take Xbox 360 controllers.

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:02PM (#41675481)
    Windows needs to make "future" applications unable to get out of their install directory, and unable to write to a global registry.

    Viruses can't do a whole lot if they can't get to system files, can't modify anything but themselves.

    Windows would suddenly catch up with this whole Internet fad if they secured their OS from viruses finally.

    Sure allow trusted legacy aps an option to be run, but aps for the future should be basically sandboxed.

    I believe if Microsoft made their OS secure against viruses, they'd actually be a step ahead of Apple. The main old reason Apple doesn't have a lot of viruses is that it had a lower market share for a long time.
    • by Tapewolf (1639955)

      Windows needs to make "future" applications unable to get out of their install directory, and unable to write to a global registry.
      Viruses can't do a whole lot if they can't get to system files, can't modify anything but themselves.

      As described, that also wipes out basically everything that makes a computer useful - for starters you can't edit a document in more than one program. You can't back things up because the backup program can't get at files outside its install directory.

      You can't record a WAV file in one program then use another to clean it up. Hell, you can't listen to the file afterwards because the media player can't get at it. You can't compile programs because the compiler suite consists of an entire toolchain, you can

      • Fine fine, I left out a detail, you can have a shared memory location, where you share information between programs, but its just details. Most programs don't need to share data with other programs. I didn't want to write a design document, just give an idea.
      • You might be interested in the share charm. [winsupersite.com]
    • Windows needs to make "future" applications unable to get out of their install directory, and unable to write to a global registry.

      Hey great idea Microsoft should have done that with their metro/RT apps. Apps could even come with a manifest declaring access required of the app, enforced by the operating system ahead of time before the app even runs... hey that would have been awesome.

      Windows would suddenly catch up with this whole Internet fad if they secured their OS from viruses finally.

      It is not that difficult to protect the OS...problem is the operating system is not what users really care about.

      If you fence a browser from the rest of the OS..great the OS is safe from the browser...but wait a second...I don't care about the OS!! I car

    • by tooyoung (853621)
      So, if Microsoft made all of their apps run in a sandbox, they would be one step ahead of Apple? Very insightful, considering that people have been complaining on slashdot for months about Apple moving to sandboxed apps.
    • Windows needs to make "future" applications unable to get out of their install directory, and unable to write to a global registry.

      Viruses can't do a whole lot if they can't get to system files, can't modify anything but themselves.

      Windows would suddenly catch up with this whole Internet fad if they secured their OS from viruses finally.

      Sure allow trusted legacy aps an option to be run, but aps for the future should be basically sandboxed.

      I believe if Microsoft made their OS secure against viruses, they'd actually be a step ahead of Apple. The main old reason Apple doesn't have a lot of viruses is that it had a lower market share for a long time.

      Now I'm confused.

      You state that Microsoft would be ahead of Apple if they did what you listed above - do you not realize that this is exactly what Apple is doing right now?

      https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/#documentation/Security/Conceptual/AppSandboxDesignGuide/ [apple.com]

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      indows needs to make "future" applications unable to get out of their install directory, and unable to write to a global registry.

      Vista already did that. When apps write to the registry the data is stored in their own little registry file, and they don't have access to anything owned by other apps or the system. Similarly they can't just shit all over the filesystem any more, only user data folders.

      UAC allows them to request permission to access those things.

      Viruses can't do a whole lot if they can't get to system files, can't modify anything but themselves.

      Which is why they all now rely on either tricking the user into giving them permission or exploiting bugs that allow them to get higher rights.

      Sure allow trusted legacy aps an option to be run, but aps for the future should be basically sandboxed.

      That is exactly what UAC was designe

  • Catch 22 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SilenceBE (1439827) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:11PM (#41675575)
    The fact that Apple is very strict (not talking about the mature content thing which I find ridiculous) regarding how an app should behave or designed, makes that a lot of apps are easier to use because the learning curve is low. You don't need to learn things over & over again. Hence the reason - and imho correct - that a lot of users find it a more user friendly platform.

    If I read the passages about why Steve Jobs was against Apps in the first place, he had the fear that it could lead to tainting the user friendly experience in which they invested a lot. Which I think - after seeing my share of bad designed software - was a valid fear.

    I have an Android smartphone as I find iPhones ridiculous expensive. But if I look at the quality difference between what is available in the Google Play store on my smartphone & the iOS store on my iPad, there is a difference. And I do - personally - think that this is because Apple does run a very strict ship in guidelines, how an app should work, what you expect as behavior, etc. I don't think it is because iOS developers are so much more talented then their android counterparts.

    This may come over as a nightmare for those who like to tinker or loves freedom to design or develop an app like they want it, but reality is that when it comes in designing good and consequent interfaces, 90% of the developers can't do it even if their live depended on it. Give them to much room and you really get some of the horrendous software available on the Google play store. Sometimes I find it a pity that Google doesn't enforce some basic guidelines because it is the only way some developers would put some sense in what they are developing.

    So no is not the iOS concept that is flawed, it is that stubborn idea that a lot of techies have that they have the same needs or mindset as the general public.
    • by fermion (181285)
      This really has nothing to do with open and not open, nor the freedom to develop of design. The phone is closed system. The number of people who buy a computer and actually tinker with the insides is small. The number of people who write code for their computer is tiny. This has to do with overall cost and easy availability of free applications, which is why MS beats *nix on the desktop, and Android beats iPhone on the mobile.

      Writing code for the Mac has been free since around 2000. Visual studio exp

  • Why Microsoft Shouldn't Copy Apple's iOS Walled Garden

    Microsoft should not copy Apple, it should sue Apple for copy right infringement. The idea of proprietary file formats, making switching costs high, getting people and making it difficult to leave, monoculture, etc etc were all invented by Microsoft and pushed for decades. Of course it is sad people jump out of one walled garden and jump right into another in the form of iOS. But still, if Microsoft copies Apple it will be a xerox copy of a xerox copy.

  • This is probably very obvious, but the market is ultimately going to decide what is and what isn't a good idea. If the "walled garden" will be generating more profit for Microsoft than the (relatively) unrestricted status quo, then it flourishes and continues. If enough people reject the approach and go looking elsewhere for an OS, then perhaps Microsoft learn their lesson and revert.

    I doubt that enough people are going to be annoyed by the restrictions and move to another platform. "It really isn't
  • anyone got a list of x86 based tablets that can run Linux distros.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @07:28PM (#41675779) Homepage

    Why complain if Microsoft wants to shoot itself in the head?

  • censorship, EU, anittrust, and other laws may stop MS from being able to lock it down.

    MS is to big for them to get away with big time lock down and at best the only lock should be that the app does messes the rest of the system up.

  • I don't any 3rd party DRM system will work in MS store will work so no EA origin, no steam, no SafeDisc, , no StarForce, no SecuROM, no Impulse / GameStop App , no game tap.

  • we need to make windows 8 bomb so hard that they may need to have a SP 0.5 rushed out to have the old UI to come back.

  • Why $firmA shouldn't copy $firmB.

    Customers are attracted to $firmA because something about their products resonates with them. The same is true of $firmB. If one tries to copy the other, it's only a copy. Everybody knows it's a copy. Because the methodology of the first is the driver of the 2nd, it'll always be an inferior copy. Worse, you are putting your competition in the driver's seat. You and your customers BOTH lose in this scenario, and MSFT trying to copy AAPL isn't the only example.

    1. Bing g

  • MS is a second tier company now. Where are the best and the brightest going? Amazon, Apple and Google.

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