What developers are worried about is Microsoft’s move to Metro or whatever you want to call it. This is their new UI and also a new “shell” for applications. With Metro developers are forced to use the Microsoft store to offer full Metro Style applications to consumers. They cannot sell “Metro” applications directly to the public. This means that developers that want to write for Windows RT will have to give up 30% of their take to Microsoft. That is not a bad little deal for Ballmer and crew. The same applies for any apps that make use of just the Metro UI of the combined Metro and Classic desktop modes in Windows 8 for x86 CPUs. These can only be sold through the Microsoft Store it is a move that will hurt many software distribution systems like Steam, Origin, etc.
It is also seen as very anti-consumer by more than a few developers that feel Windows should be more open and allow for the installation of apps through any medium. Microsoft is determined though. Steve Ballmer has seen the revenue stream that iTunes generates and wants it very much. It is pretty clear that he feels that Microsoft is entitled to a cut of any software that is installed on Windows and is moving to make that happen. As we have said before, this move has annoyed developers in more ways than one. In particular it has annoyed game developers and some of them very vocal developers.
What is pushing these developers to dislike Windows 8 is that it looks like Microsoft wants to limit gaming access to Windows 8 to the Xbox distribution system. Microsoft has been leaning in this direction since late 2011 and even said as much at E3 back in June when they commented that Xbox Live is already integrated into the new OS. Microsoft expects people to move toward using their distribution systems in one way or another; either Xbox Live or the Microsoft Store. We told you as much about the OS back when we checked out the original Build developer preview and followed that up with our coverage of the Consumer Preview Program release. While both Steam and Origin do work on Windows 8, many games including Windows Live games installed through steam do not. Microsoft could be moving to cut out both Steam and Origin from distributing games that are available through Xbox Live which would be very bad for the consumer.
Microsoft is looking for ways to bring revenue back in house no matter what. This is not an unusual direction for a business and certainly not for Microsoft with their highly integrated applications, but it is a new direction for their consumer desktop. Considering the fact that until Windows 8 Microsoft made the claim that Windows was all about the consumer and freedom this is a drastic shift in the way they present to the consumer. It is a direction that is causing more and more concern with developers, OEM partners, consumers and even security experts that see Microsoft’s poor security history as a problem now that they want to integrate the OS so tightly with their cloud applications. In the end Microsoft may end up sitting around wondering where they went wrong with Windows 8, while working to push out Windows 9. We hate to say it, but Steve Ballmer might want to look back in history to see what drives the Windows market. It is not integrated cloud systems, or locked down distribution systems. It was and should continue to be the open and flexible nature of the OS which allows the consumer to choose who and how to get their applications and developers to implement the features they want. Closing this off in favor of making more money will not work for Microsoft and will only hurt their already unstable relationships with developers and OEM partners.
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