Last month Valve Software’s CEO Gabe Newell was quoted as saying “Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space.”
This was less a reaction to the OS as a whole than to the inclusion of a new ‘Windows Store’ as a means of purchasing software. The reaction to this statement has been divided: some people find the simplicity of a one-stop app store very appealing, whereas others would rather retain personal control over the storefront software they install – or don’t.
As for Valve, their reaction may in part derive from unwanted competition. Steam, Valve’s own digital delivery software store, uses a similar model. It sells games (and soon other software) through a closed system, which is exactlywhat the Windows Store will do.
The move toward buying software online was an obvious one. It goes hand in hand with the decline in the use of physical media and constant improvements in broadband speeds. But the App Store model has other advantages as well. Users can buy something once and receive regular bug fixes and updates (assuming upgrades are free). In the future, such stores could also include better version control – a big advantage for developers as well as consumers given the minefield that is PC hardware.
For Apple the reason for the App Store’s creation was twofold: ease of use for the end user and it was a way to cut down on piracy for the developer. Apple now uses the Mac App Store as the default installer and have also introduced ‘Gatekeeper’. This default program acts as a quarantine block for any software not identified by Apple.
Although Apple has been called a ‘walled garden’ for using such measures, open source OS Linux has been using similar methods for years. The move from using standalone packet managers to an App Store-style software centre may not have been much of a leap for technically-proficient Linux users, and the simplicity of having one place from which to automatically update all your software has obvious benefits.
Whether they are using Windows, Mac or Linux, users will still have the option to install software outside of the OS-bundled stores. Most people who know where to get a certain product can still shop around in the same way as they always have and install software from other sources.
From what we have seen so far in preview releases, the Windows Store will focus on what have, until recently, been called ‘Metro apps’. To clarify, that’s the new landing screen interface with large interactive tiles, which Microsoft has now renamed ‘Windows 8’. Although most people will still buy programs like Photoshop through traditional methods, Metro apps are perfectly suited for sale in the Windows store. There may be scope in the future to buy an app on your desktop PC and have it available on your Windows Phone or even your Xbox360. This is all part of Microsoft’s efforts to synchronise their various consumer products and offerings as well as establish themselves in the tablet market.
Can Steam co-exist with the Windows Store on the same OS? Neither Valve nor Microsoft may like it, but Android users have the option to buy from either the Google Play store or the Amazon app store – and in that case the competition is favourable for the user.
(Source: The Verge)
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