http://www.pcgamer.com/tim-sweeney-...source=facebook&utm_campaign=buffer_pcgamerfb Tim Sweeney The reason that I have chosen not to post this in the VG forum is because it deserves a wider audience. For those of you who don't play PC video games, Steam is a program aka "app" on Windows developed by the gaming company Valve Software 13 years ago (this is the legendary game company responsible for Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, Left4Dead, and Team Fortress). It is a service that lets game companies sell their games without a physical copy to gamers, maintains their libraries, interfaces them with other gamers, and facilitates stable playback of the games. It functions like the Playstation Network for Playstation gamers or Xbox Live for Xbox gamers, but for PC gamers. I want to emphasize something that is lost in the sands of time. When Gabe Newell proposed this idea nobody, and I mean pretty much goddamn nobody, thought it would work. It seemed ludicrous at the time when the average internet user still had a connection that's bandwidth struggled just to maintain solid online multiplayer connections. That's why the idea was revolutionary. Fast forward 13 years, and if anything, gamers are irritated that Valve shifted away from producing games (i.e. where the fuck is Half-Life 3, Gabe?) to instead focus on Steam and similar undertakings focused on creating platforms for other vendors like SteamOS and the "Steamboxes" to run it. Another example was their attempt to innovate within mainstream gaming with their Steam Controller. It's not hard to guess why. Money. Steam gambled big, and it paid big. Their revenue from licensing fees and royalties paid to them as hosts of the platform for game companies who sell their games on the platform forms a dwarven mountain of treasure next to the hobbit hills of profit that even the most successful PC gaming franchises tend to generate. Why might this story be of interest to non-gamers? Because Sweeney is 100% right about what Microsoft is doing, and it should absolutely terrify you. What's at stake is the same thing that has always been at stake in the digital world: freedom vs. corporations. Like Capitalism vs. Communism, Conservatism vs. Liberalism, and Authoritarianism vs. Libertarianism: this struggle never ends. It's the "permanent revolution" Jefferson spoke about realized in the digital realm. As popular as it is to hate Microsoft despite that you're almost certainly interfacing with this forum right now on their operating system (if you're not on your phone) they were once-- long, long ago-- perceived as the underdog rebels in this fight. Microsoft has never been a completely open-source platform, like Linux, but it has been by far the most successful semi-open platform. This stands in contrast to Apple who have always tightly controlled their ecosystem in what is commonly referred to as a "walled-garden environment". This gave independent developers a chance. If you could write some good code, and fill a need, then you were free to do so on Microsoft's platform, and generate wealth for yourself. It was a synergistic relationship. They allowed you a free space to work, and you in turn made their village more attractive by adding a shop to it. Windows 10 seeks to end that. In effect, they're adopting the Apple model. They're surrendering. Developers espied this when their new app store was first introduced, but now, with Windows 10, there is no longer any place to which they can retreat. Microsoft will continue introducing changes that make Win32 programs less and less viable until no one wants to use them. Then, like Apple's iOS for iPhones and iPads, they'll have complete control over their app store. If they don't approve of your software, or if they don't like you, or if they think they can reproduce your software without much effort and steal a revenue stream that you created, with your risk and ingenuity and hard labor, when nobody else believed it could even work, as was the case with Steam when it was merely a glimmer in Gabe Newell's eye, all they have to do is disapprove. Poof! You're gone. They control the vertical and the horizontal. They drink your milkshake. Steam is the victim of its own success. It got too big as a platform within a platform, and Microsoft didn't like that. Before, they didn't mind, but then Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone and everything changed. Suddenly Microsoft knew what it meant to feel hungry, again. The truly terrifying thing is that this isn't limited to desktop computers. Apple already effectively controls and steers the smartphone world, with Android software almost wholly derivative, but even with Android, which is a semi-open OS like Windows, that model is threatened. Why? Samsung is making virtually all of the profits on the Android platform right now: more than all other Android manufacturers combined. They've already locked down their bootloaders. Essentially, Samsung stopped making "Android" phones several generations ago, and now makes "Touchwiz" phones. This isn't at all like, for example, on Windows 7, a Lenovo laptop vs. an HP laptop. Sure, they both come with crappy software out-of-the-box unique to their companies, that nobody uses, but as Windows computers they don't in any significant way operate differently. Whatever your brand: Windows is Windows. That's not the case when you talk about Touchwiz (Samsung) vs. Nexus (pure Android) phones. The problem is that Samsung is consuming the Android OS. The closed fist is devouring even the open palm. Everything in the software world is shifting towards these closed-sourced ecosystems. This is going to result in a more fragmented digital landscape than ever before, but that isn't necessarily the end, as can be observed with the PS4 & Xbox One; the first time in history the two dominant gaming consoles have been built using the same hardware architecture, and also the first time they have shared this architecture with PC's. So, no, that isn't their endgame. Their endgame is to wield complete control not just over their operating system itself, but over everything on it; to concentrate the power, irreversibly, in the hands that line the tables over the executive boardrooms of the handful of global titans who sell nearly all of our devices. Unlike 30 years ago, when this battle was first being fought, this landscape isn't exactly wide open. Certainly there is potential for disruption, but it is not nearly so great as these companies' potential to exert control over the market by squeezing out startups that threaten their revenue streams. The great houses are now already built. The digital world is ripe for an oligarchy the likes of which has never before been seen at a time when the non-digital world is boundlessly influenced by this digital world to a degree that only the visionaries could have imagined; yet even these visionaries are not immune to being pushed off the land they themselves tilled into a fertile oasis. I fear that it won't be long before we nearly all of us find ourselves conjoined to them. Granules of sand swallowed by a desert and blown helplessly to and fro by its winds, sometimes just high enough to peer over the wall, into the garden, where the palm trees grow, wondering what it must be like to rest on that side of paradise.