Microsoft, please get back to what made Windows successful…

If you have been paying attention to what Microsoft has been doing lately you’d notice that Microsoft has been pushing this whole “Universal Windows Platform” initiative. The idea is that if you write a program as a Universal Windows Platform app your app will be able to run on mobile devices (phones and tablets), PCs (desktops and notebooks), and the XBOX. But lately that whole initiative by Microsoft has failed in the market.

The first of many nails in the coffin of UWP is the news that Quantum Break, a game that was written to be a UWP app and a Windows 10 exclusive, will be transitioned from being a UWP app to a game that can be run on many more devices than just Windows 10 devices. Why? Well, the developer cited issues with DirectX 12 bugs in which the game had issues running on certain graphics cards and that they had far more experience writing games in DirectX 11.

The second of many nails in the coffin is that developers just aren’t writing any apps for UWP. Sure, you can find apps in the Windows Store but if you ask me the apps you can find on it are garbage, pure garbage. I don’t understand how many of the apps that are on the Windows Store even made it to the store to begin with, they’re just that horrible. They lack many of the user interface elements that I’ve come to expect from desktop programs. I don’t know if it’s because UWP apps are so limited when it comes to designing program user interfaces but outside a few apps I’ve come across (like NetFlix), most apps are pure garbage. Most look like they fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. And lets not forget that most apps you can find are so buggy that even a can of RAID won’t help you.

When I think of a desktop program I think of a user interface with a proper menu interface. You know what I mean… File, Edit, etc. or even the ribbon. The apps you can find on the Windows Store lack those kinds of things, they instead have a “hamburger menu”. Really? A “hamburger menu”? If you ask me, a “hamburger menu” has no place at all on a desktop.

I bet you are asking why I said that. Well, it comes down to what is known as design language. When users look at a desktop program they expect a desktop program to look and feel a certain way. A proper menu system and multi-window user interface has been something that users have used for more than twenty years, we expect this from desktop programs. This design is tried and true, it works; there’s no reason to change it. And then all of a sudden UWP comes along and with it comes the idea that you should make your program run on different platforms. I don’t have a problem with programs being able to run on different platforms but what I do have a problem with is when you try to shoehorn a program that was obviously written and designed to run on a phone onto a desktop, that does not work with me. To reiterate, I expect desktop programs to look and feel a certain way, I don’t expect a “hamburger menu”. The “hamburger menu” belongs on a phone, not a desktop.

The third of many nails in the coffin is that writing UWP apps is very limiting due to the way that UWP apps are sandboxed when running on the system. This restricts what developers can do in their programs. You can’t interact with system components, you can’t load outside libraries, you’re limited to using a specific set of APIs, etc. This of course limits what a UWP app can do and when it comes to games, it’s even more limiting. Gamers expect to be able to MOD or modify games, add levels, etc. You can’t do that with UWP apps because, as you might have guessed, they’re sandboxed. You, as the user, can’t even browse the folder location of where UWP apps are stored on your system; if you try Windows Explorer will give you a big nasty “Access denied” error message.

The fourth of many nails in the coffin is that the majority of the world is still running Windows 7 so as a developer you would be an absolute fool if you wrote your program or game as a Windows 10 exclusive. That would eliminate nearly 75% of the market and that would be like shooting yourself in the foot… with an RPG.

We know that the Windows 10 Mobile platform has failed and with it the Universal Windows Platform. There’s really no reason why developers should write apps for the Windows Store when the Windows 10 Mobile platform is in such horrible conditions. Windows 10 Mobile has less than 1% of the market with 99% of the mobile market being controlled by Apple and Android. This won’t change. Microsoft can throw all of the marketing and money it wants at the problem but it’s just not going to change, the two platforms (Apple and Android) are far too entrenched in the mobile market and the minds of people buying phones to make an ounce of difference.

With all of that being said, listen up Microsoft… forget UWP. Just chuck it onto the trash heap of failure. You’re never going to have the power you once had to take control away from Apple and Android in the market so stop it already, to keep trying is a waste of money. Leave the mobile market up to Apple and Android, they were there first and they control the market and nothing’s going to change that. Sure, go ahead, make your various apps for iOS and Android but that’s it. Stop trying to chase a pipe dream.

For the love of God and all that is holy, get back to what made you successful… the desktop. You are king of the desktop market, you control such a gigantic portion of the desktop market that nobody else can touch you. But recently with your whole UWP push along with Windows 8.x and Windows 10 you have been annoying the very users that gave you the crown and throne of the desktop market. What Microsoft needs to do and they need to do it quickly is to do a complete 180 on their computing strategy and get back to what made them successful for decades, the desktop. The desktop is king, it will always be king. Don’t let the industry pundits tell you otherwise, the desktop will always be king. When I need to do real work, I sit down at my desktop with a keyboard and mouse. When businesses need to do real work, workers sit down at a desktop with a keyboard and mouse. Why? Because when it comes to real work there’s no comparison, the desktop is king.

Long live the desktop.

  • VB6 Programming

    Good to see that full Windows 10 will be able to run on ARM processors. So Win32 apps will run. No need for the failed UWP apps.

    • Mr. Bill

      32 bit win32 applications only. What’s wrong with regular Intel applications – what does ARM have to do with it?. UWP is dumbed down, least common denominator for more reasons than just ARM compatibility.

      • VB6 Programming

        ARM processors (Qualcomm 835) will be able to run full desktop Windows 10. And regular Intel Win32 applications will run unchanged on ARM laptops and tablets. No need for UWP, just run your Intel applications on ARM devices.
        ARM processors will allow lighter, thinner, lower cost devices with much longer battery life.

        • Mr. Bill

          “And regular Intel Win32 applications will run unchanged on ARM laptops and tablets”.
          We’ll see how the practical reality of that turns out.
          The ‘apps’ (rich desktop productivity applications) I need on windows will run poorly on ARM, or not at all (limited to old 32 bit applications), not to mention no one cares what the CPU architecture is, just that it runs as well as possible. If you haven’t realized, the smartphones and iPads already took the consumer world by storm with ARM-appropriate simple native consumption apps. Windows is proven to be only synonymous with professional desktop productivity applications, where ‘battery life’ is of no concern. There is no ‘app’ I need on windows. If I want to use apps i pull out the iPad or phone.

          • VB6 Programming

            Yes, we’ll need to see how applications run on ARM devices.
            But in most cases performance will be acceptable. Microsoft have demonstrated Adobe Photoshop and Office running on an older Qualcomm chip under full Windows 10.
            Not only will these devices (laptops and tablets, typically we are talking of a Windows 10 Microsoft Surface and above) have much longer battery life, they will be slimmer and lighter and have Gigabit LTE.
            First chip to run Windows 10 on ARM will be the 8-core Snapdragon 835. This will be fast and possibly broadly comparable to Intel i3 cpus.

            Microsoft also have Windows Server running on 64-bit ARM processors, but restricted (at the moment) for Microsoft internal use only. It will be used in Microsoft data centers. Hardly a “simple native consumption app”.

  • Mr. Bill

    Right on, man, sums up my thoughts exactly.