Microsoft didn't build it, but now they want it

Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by Madmick, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. Madmick

    Madmick Cerebrage Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    http://www.pcgamer.com/tim-sweeney-...source=facebook&utm_campaign=buffer_pcgamerfb

    Tim Sweeney
    [​IMG]

    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.
     
  2. Clippy

    Clippy I got too many pots on the stove

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    If you built it they will come ... and steal it
     
  3. Organic Damage

    Organic Damage Dancing on the ashes of the World

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    Unfortunately money talks. I don't see any way Valve fights off a takeover if MS decides to open their piggybank.

    The only saving grace is that maybe after MS ruins Steam, Valve will go back to developing games and HL3 will finally come out.
     
  4. SleepyBoy

    SleepyBoy Silver Belt

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    Great post! Windows knows having the dominate e-store is like printing money.

    I remember when Xbox 1 was initially proposed, it was some serious Orwellian shit.
    They were going for the jugular, not just the spying but the control they have over your media. That's why they were initially marketed as a Media machine with running your cable tv through it and such... and gamers intelligently chose PS4 over xbox1, i shutter to think what may have happened if Xbox1 was in Ps4's position now.

    remember this patent?
    http://www.geekwire.com/2012/microsoft-diskinect-freeloading-tv-viewers/
    There were so many more of these patents/ideas i can't remember at the moment that MS would have loved to put in place.
    To make it the new norm of micro-transactions everywhere, not just in gaming.
    Total control, total nickel and diming.
     
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  5. ehtheist

    ehtheist #FreeBanchan Banned

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    I don’t get why this is being framed as “Big bad evil Microsoft is trying to create a store that only they control and sell all the software through it… Bye bye open platform – THANKS MICROSOFT!” Frankly, Microsoft has been one of the last of the holdouts as every second major company out there creates their own walled garden store which they control and then segways into their own operating system, essentially doing what MS is now being accused of in the reverse order – but they were doing it first and undercutting the profits of the more open model by ganking customers.

    And I have no idea how Steam comes off as some sort of benign company through all of this… I spent decades buying PC games DRM free and then some company comes along, creates a central store where they control all of my licenses, and they get a piece of every pie, and they’re the good guys? Nobody has done as much to quietly kill open software distribution on the PC as Valve has. We didn’t need them before and now we’re cheering when they’re increasing the level of control on our platform? Oh, and by the way, they’ve created an operating system too, because just having it being something that runs on other platforms wasn’t enough. GOOOO VALVE! But we have to be afraid of MS doing something as audacious as creating a central store…

    Guess what – everyone else has been pushing for walled gardens, central stores for DRM, and using that as a gateway to creating their own operating system which will draw people away from the more open platform on Windows. Not following suit, as everyone else did it, was loved for it, and made a killing with it, was leading MS to a slow death as people slowly decided “Oh, I don’t need this platform any more – I’ve got Apple’s/Google’s platforms now, and that does a big part of what I used to do with Windows!” as Apple and Google enjoyed the benefits of centralized stores on those platforms. Then the noble Steam said “Ok, we’ve already bamboozled people into thinking that having DRM on all of their PC games is a good thing – now let’s just make an operating system too and cut MS right out of the picture.” Now when MS actually creates their own central store we should be terrified of Microsoft? I agree that this whole motion is bloody terrible for anything resembling open software platforms but pinning it on MS is absurd. MS has been competing against other companies introducing walled gardens for the past fifteen or so years as those same companies tried to steal the OS pie along with control of software distribution, and MS is finally answering back and we should be terrified of MS? Sorry folks, but as much as you want to blame MS for this, companies like Apple, Valve, and Google set the standard for this type of controlled software distribution, and MS is just playing catchup. It sucks, but this is more a case of MS not being able to beat them, so they joined them, rather than some big novel plan on MS’s part. If you wanted to support more open software distribution, you shouldn’t have spent the last decade buying software from app stores and games from Steam, Google, and Apple app stores – and yes, that’s essentially what Steam is - proving to every company out there that the big money is in controlled software distribution, not in leaving things open.

    The lot of you have likely been voting with your wallets for the last decade to the effect that that you love walled gardens and DRM on your software through Steam, Apple, Google, the Amazon store, etc, and now MS is following suit and you’re pretending like you’re scared of these DRM laden closed software distribution models? Guess what – MS has just been paying attention to what the public has been doing, and they’re trying to get in the game before they’re obsolete.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2016
  6. Madmick

    Madmick Cerebrage Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    The fact that Microsoft-- one of the last holdouts-- is signaling this is precisely the motivation for the article.
    They didn't come off as the good guys. You clearly misread what I wrote. There are no "good" guys. There are no white hats. You're the only one that appears intent on presenting one of these companies as such. You sound like you work for Microsoft.
    I don't need to guess. I explicitly made a point of observing the fact that everyone is migrating towards walled-garden environments, or has already adopted them. That is the source of my forlorn tone.


    You utterly and completely failed to comprehend the central theme of my thoughts.
     
  7. ehtheist

    ehtheist #FreeBanchan Banned

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    Oh Mick, get off your adversarial pony and take a look at the thread you’re in and think back to what’s been happening for the past decade. We’ve been marching towards this with cheers and applause and open wallets, but MS is moving in this direction and it’s “Orwellian”? Now “you should be terrified”? Are you kidding me? I’ve spent the last decade watching people happy that we’ve been moving in this direction – when you look at their spending habits – while they are staunchly opposed to only some companies doing it when you ask them about it. Ask around this forum – ask how many of them said “Damn, this Steam thing is a bunch of unnecessary DRM on my games – I should ditch it! Wait, they’re making their own OS built around their app store? They are going to start selling non-game software too? They want to be on every screen in my house? You should be terrified! WE MUST STOP THIS!” No, I’ve seen masses of PC gamers cheering these developments, masses of Sherdoggers happily chatting over their Steam collections, but now that MS is centralizing software distribution in the same way it’s “Orwellian.” This pretense that “oh yeah, we’re all equally scared of the other companies doing it too!” is such a load of BS after a decade of opening our wallets with a smile as other companies have done this.

    This whole entire knee-jerk “You should be TERRIFIED!” thing when MS is finally making this leap is just showing what a double standard the PC community has been running on. The day I bought a hard copy of Civilization V and I was forced to have a Steam account to even use my hard copy game, I knew the ship had sailed – open software was secondary. Walled gardens had won.

    And now you’re all “Well, no, we’re all really against Steam and all of these other things too!” Well, guess what – if you’d been using terms like “Orwellian” and acting like you were actually opposed to this philosophy of software distribution for the last ten years, we might not be here now. But, here we are.

    You can say I sound like I’m working for whoever you want, but I was “terrified” of these types of walled gardens before it was cool to do it – AKA, now, that MS is finally pushing for it, evidently – and I’ve been told how wonderful Steam and Google are again and again and again. Now it’s “Orwellian” – now “you should be terrified.” Ten years too late people – that’s when you should have been having this conversation, when you were gushing over how great a sale Steam just put on and opening your wallets in a way that convinced companies that releasing software not locked in with DRM was something people still wanted. But that’s done – and now “you should be terrified” and it’s “Orwellian.” No, it’s what you’ve been asking for… This is sour grapes from someone who has been saying “You’re making a mistake – buy open software” for the past ten years and getting laughed at for it, and is now shaking her head because people are acting terrified that they finally got what they said they wanted whenever the opened their wallets…

    I'm off to work. Have fun being "terrified" of the walled gardens. But don't worry - I'm sure some app store you've been using for a decade will put on a sale, and then you'll feel better about it.
     
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  8. Luger

    Luger Rabbi of Platinum Nation Banned

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    Not really breaking news that megacorps swallow everything up.
    This has been the theme in Cyberpunk for decades.
     
  9. Madmick

    Madmick Cerebrage Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    Spare me your condescending, affected anti-alarmist drivel, etheist. You didn't even accurately comprehend what I wrote until I handed you the Cliff Notes.

    The increasing concentration of wealth, and control over communication & IP isn't a trivial matter. The hastening global oligarchy isn't a trivial matter. Here it is framed as concisely as possible within the sill of a concrete paradigm shift of the monopolistic global desktop OS.
    That theme predated cyberpunk. The significant development is that it is no longer fiction, unfortunately.

    All disruption will stem from the Chinese (who don't generate any valuable software IP and monolithically block western attempts to protect it). So even the underdog isn't a comfort.
     
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  10. Luger

    Luger Rabbi of Platinum Nation Banned

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    True.
    It is even scarier than some sci-fi ideas, how many things are developing.
    For an example, some don't consider access to water basic human rights.
    I'm more worried about that than the computer/gaming market - even though it is not healthy (de)evolution.
     
  11. 22k

    22k ベルセルク

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    but there is

    [​IMG]
     
  12. NoGoodNamesLeft

    NoGoodNamesLeft Black Belt

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    i wish i could read :(
     
  13. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    Its not just that Microsoft wants their own app store right? Microsoft has the power to kill other companies, like Steam, in the process. How is that even legal? Basically Microsoft is targeting Steam and specifically killing them. Surely there has to be lawsuits on the horizon?
     
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  14. PolishHeadlock

    PolishHeadlock Putin Belt Platinum Member

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    Is this going to affect porn site and/or Grubhub?

    These are the things I need to know
     
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  15. neverwas

    neverwas bondage belt

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    after going through micks last post with a dictionary,i have something to add.


















    i don't have a steam account.
     
  16. Madmick

    Madmick Cerebrage Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    No.

    Unless the Chinese gain control. In which case you're fucked because I guess they believe porn negatively affects "productivity".
     
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  17. Ultrashogun

    Ultrashogun Red Belt

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    Get linux and be done with it. It really is true, that the more they grab, the more slips through their fingers.

    You dont even have to be a fucking genius anymore, just get ubuntu.
     
    Scott Parker 27 likes this.
  18. Madmick

    Madmick Cerebrage Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    I'm quite familiar with Linux, but the central subject material of this article itself is testimony to why what you're saying isn't true. The problem with this-- the best completely open-source software OS ever created, Linux-- is that even the SteamOS (which is built on Linux for those who aren't aware) is pitiful by comparison to Windows when it comes to the library of games available. WINE is exactly the comparative wasteland that Sweeney is foreboding.

    No, I'm afraid that just retreating to the digital communist space where all money is shared freely, but nobody has any wealth, is merely a strategy that suffocates the patient to cure him of breathing the toxic ambient air.
     
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  19. Ultrashogun

    Ultrashogun Red Belt

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    Im not really sure that it is communist, but it works and I like it.

    I didnt like windows so I installed linux, I didnt like office so I installed Libreoffice. I dont really care about games.

    Game makers will stop making games for shitty platforms when the consumer stops using those platforms.
     
  20. ObsoleteSoul

    ObsoleteSoul Silver Belt

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    Oh boy. MS is always evil in every story now. Shame.
     
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