Editorial

Why Gabe Newell could be both wrong and right about Windows 8

Early last week, Valve’s managing director and former Microsoft employee Gabe Newell made waves when he said Windows 8 would be a “catastrophe for everyone in the PC space.”

While the gaming icon didn’t elaborate much as to what he thought would be catastrophic about Microsoft’s new operating system, it’s clear what he was referring to given Valve’s business operations: the integration of Xbox Live in Windows 8 and the lack of openness in the operating system’s new interface.

Newell has reason to be concerned. Even though Valve doesn’t publicly release sales information from Steam, its digital distribution system, it’s obvious Valve’s service is dominating the competition. There’s also a good reason for that, too: Steam is easily the most feature-rich digital distribution platform for PC games currently on the market.

This isn’t the first time Newell’s shown pessimism toward Windows 8, however. In an interview with Linux gaming site Phoronix in late April, the site wrote Newell’s “negativity for Windows 8 and the future of Microsoft was stunning.” Since that time, Valve has put considerable resources in its Linux development.

Of course, Newell does have legitimate reasons to resent Microsoft for suddenly pushing its gaming integration. As the story famously goes, Newell and Valve had asked Microsoft – among other companies – to consider making a digital distribution platform for computer games with features similar to what Steam currently offers. When Microsoft balked, Valve used its resources to create Steam. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since adding third-party games to Steam not long after the launch of Half-Life 2, Valve’s dominated the computer gaming landscape as far as digital distribution is concerned. Even top-tier publishers such as Electronic Arts, Activision and Ubisoft now distribute their games through Steam. And now those publishers want a piece of the pie as well, with EA creating its Origin digital distribution service to obtain a larger percentage of each game’s sales.

It’s really no shock that Microsoft now wants to get in on the action, too. Xbox Live has been wildly successful for the company, raking in billions of dollars in annual revenue. By bringing the full service to the computer – and killing the much-maligned Games for Windows Live service – Microsoft can create more exposure for the Xbox brand while also easily taking a chunk out of Valve’s business since the service will come bundled with Windows 8 and Windows RT products.

Windows 8 will still allow Steam to exist in the traditional desktop, however. But with Xbox Live at the forefront of the new interface, will the average consumer ever truly consider it an option or even be aware of its existence? Xbox Live will be tightly interwoven with the operating system, with not only the games being branded with the Xbox name and logo, but also Microsoft’s new music and video apps. Windows 8 and Windows RT users will create an instant user base against Steam and other digital distribution competitors.

So, yes, Newell could absolutely be right in at least one regard: Windows 8 could be catastrophic for developers such as Valve who could be strong-armed out of their dominant position in digital distribution. It could also be bad news for consumers, as Steam is well-known for its countless sales; Microsoft’s Xbox Live platform doesn’t feature the sheer amount of sales, nor will it be likely to in Windows 8 and Windows RT.

But Xbox Live on Windows could be beneficial if certain rumors are to be believed. It’s previously been reported that the next Xbox platform will essentially be a glorified Windows 8 computer, with the operating system being modified from Windows 8 to fit a console’s more specific needs (the Xbox 360 runs on a modified Windows NT core). If Xbox Live purchases are universal, as Apple’s app store purchases are across its platform, gamers would be able to buy a game once and have it work across a variety of platforms.

There’s reason to be concerned about Windows 8 beyond the locked-down nature of applications in the new interface, of course. Developers will now have to go through a certification process for inclusion in the Windows store. The certification process for inclusion in the Xbox 360’s store has already seen its fair share of criticism; given that history, it’s likely the certification process for Windows software will result in similar sentiments from developers.

Since Newell’s comments, other gaming developers have apparently felt emboldened, with John Carmack recently saying he’d be “happy” if Windows 8 didn’t even exist. Unlike Newell’s likely issue with the operating system’s lack of openness, however, Carmack’s issue seems to rely more on the fact that there’s no real reason for him to upgrade to Windows 8.

Unlike Newell’s stance on Windows 8, Carmack’s problems with Windows 8 may be more telling of how consumers will react when the operating system launches on October 26. If consumers don’t have touch-screen devices, will they even consider upgrading? The operating system’s new interface probably won’t be as efficient for most users as the classic Windows interface as far as mice-and-keyboard input is concerned, and there’s really little reason for most desktop consumers to even use the new interface.

A lot of these concerns may be ruled moot in time, however, as there simply aren’t enough apps using Windows 8’s new interface to make a final call on the matter. If developers can find ways to get more advanced features into the new interface’s apps, it could become useful for desktop users. But the majority of apps seen thus far by the public don’t fit that description.

Therein lies one of the biggest problems with Windows 8, however: with developers mad about the new certification process and services that could potentially take on their own, will they even bother with creating applications for the new interface? Only time will tell, but these are hopefully issues Microsoft has talked about with developers. If not, the company may find its developer relations seriously strained.

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It seems to me that the people at Neowin and Techspot are both Microsoft lapdogs really trying hard to push Windows 8 on us and downplay critics remarks, like this article.

I personally have NO problem with Microsoft getting a "piece of the pie", but they control the operating system and they have also implemented features that scare you into not installing software that isn't approved my Microsoft. The average user will probably not bother to install free software that is available outside the Microsoft store because, well, if they go to install it and get a "smartscreen" alert that Windows feels the software they are trying to install is potentially dangerous, and click OK, it automatically aborts installation. You have to jump through hoops to get it to install, if you figure out how that is. This happened with a game I created. Someone told me "then get your game approved", no problem, easy as pie right? My game would never be approved. Go ahead, check out Microsoft's requirements for approval. For one you have to use ONLY Microsoft approved sotware available from their store. In other words, kiss SDL created apps goodbye. Also Allegro and other APIs which were developed to be FREE and cross platform so you can run them on any operating system out there. This is a subtle way for them to kill free open source software that is available for multiple operating system, software they don't make a profit off of. They're trying to say that only Microsoft approved software is safe? MICROSOFT knows about safety and security after all right? RIGHT?! You have GOT to be kidding me!!! Years ago when I stopped using internet explorer and outlook express the spyware, adware and viruses vanished from my computer and I have never seen any of them again!!! I originally switched to Firefox because it was quite simply faster than IE. It wasn't until after I was using it that I realized I no longer had spyware or adware on my system anymore. I also recall Windows 95 being so bad that you could run a simple program and reset someone's computer that was running Windows 95 if you knew their IP!!! The examples could go on and on and on, the fact was, we were saved from some of these security holes by free open source software like Mozilla and Firefox. Linux also has a stellar history of being secure, yet we're all to believe we'll be better off if big brother Microsoft tells us what is safe and what isn't?! Did you know any games rated PEGI16, or Mature or any games that have content that could be rated that will simply not be allowed at all, PERIOD? Go ahead, read Microsoft's requirements to get an app on their store, EDUCATE yourselves. This is conflict of interest as far as I am concerned. It will be interesting to see how Europe reacts to this crap.

HERES A THOUGHT TO GABE ....

MS MADE THE WIN RT LANGUAGE FOR ALL TO USE SO F ING USE IT AND MAKE STEAM INTERGRATE INTO METRO WITH LIVE TILES ETC JUST LIKE WINDOWS STORE AND XBOX APP'S AND STOP BITCHING ......

YOU HAVE THE ADVANTAGE OF A SYSTEM THATS NOT JUST ON WINDOWS ITS ON MAC AND YOUR MAKING IT FOR LINUX, AND YOU VE GOT WAY MORE CONTENT THEN MS AND WELL HMM APPLE HAS THE DAM APPS STORE SO ITS NO F ING DIFFERENT TO MS DOING IT AND YET YOU NEVER BITCHED AT APPLE ..... HYPOCRITE

UBUNTU LINUX TOO HAS SOFTWARE CENTER WHICH IS AN UNDERDEVELOPED APP STORE IDEA SO UBUNTU COULD RE DO THAT WITH PAID SERVICE SO AGAIN YOU NEVER BITCHED AT THEM

Anthony, I was following you until you started referring to John Carmack's comments. He did indeed say he'd be "happy if Windows 8 didn't exist," but you spun it out in a way that IMO completely misrepresented his comments. Your initial remark was reasonable.

"Unlike Newell's likely issue with the operating system's lack of openness, however, Carmack's issue seems to rely more on the fact that there's no real reason for him to upgrade to Windows 8."

But then you start the spin:

"Unlike Newell's stance on Windows 8, Carmack's problems with Windows 8 may be more telling of how consumers will react when the operating system launches on October 26. If consumers don't have touch-screen devices, will they even consider upgrading? The operating system's new interface probably won't be as efficient for most users as the classic Windows interface as far as mice-and-keyboard input is concerned, and there's really little reason for most desktop consumers to even use the new interface."

John Carmack never indicated he had a problem with anything in Windows 8. He indicated he was uncertain whether the UI changes would be successful, but it seems like he wanted to avoid making any issue over that. Here's a transcript of what he actually said starting at 2:47:37:

"We obviously should be testing [Windows 8] with Doom III now considering the product's coming out contemporaneously with that. You know, as I said earlier, I actually have... I have a good deal more respect for Microsoft than many in the, sort of, hacker-enthusiast community do. I have perhaps less... I have less comfort that changes in the UI paradigm are going to come off well, but I have no dog in that fight. I'm kind of excited to see a Surface tablet. Robert Duffy is trying to use a Windows Phone for a month on here. It's all worth taking a good look at. But I'd be completely happy if Windows 8 didn't exist and we didn't even have to face this problem because I'm pretty darn happy with Windows 7. There's really nothing that I'm looking forward to in Windows 8. You know, as an OS, for the most part, Windows XP did what I wanted on there, and I haven't cared that much. We're seeing that theme on a whole bunch of things here where there was a huge difference as we went from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 to Windows NT to Windows XP. Those were differences that mattered, and I think we're past that point of, OK, the differences just aren't mattering that much anymore. We need to keep it for hardware updates. Windows 7 did have, actually, substantially better, surprisingly good virtual memory management performance on some things. There's some debugging stuff that we do with mapping scads of pages, and I did something with a terabyte of virtual memory. A set of whole different things, and Windows 7 is doing a lot better than XP, things I wasn't even aware that they'd improved on were suddenly in many, in some cases hundreds of times faster under these heavy load conditions. So that's all pleasant, but there's not a single thing that I'm salivating waiting for in the next operating system."

It's pretty clear that he's talking about what HE needs as a developer and app vendor: Windows 7 was good enough, and he'd be perfectly content if he didn't have to test his product on a new OS. If you wanted to speculate that many users might be like him in not NEEDING Windows 8, that would be fine. But you spin it out as though, like Newell, he has reasons to DISLIKE Windows 8. That is a gross misrepresentation of what Carmack was saying, as he never said anything of the sort.

Just to throw another name into the Hat, but I'm reading through John Smedley's Reddit AMA and he also sides with Newell and others in their concerns about Win8.

It's good news for gamers everywhere. It means steam will truly be multi-platform - GNU/Linux, OS X, and Windows. And now that the source engine runs faster on Linux, users might be tempted to jump on-board the penguin train

Of course, Newell does have legitimate reasons to resent Microsoft for suddenly pushing its gaming integration.

Does anybody remembers Games for Windows Live ?
Of course, nobody does because it could not compete. That is why Steam is the best digital distribution system on PC.
Valve should start competing instead of making some stupid noise on the interwebs. They have 500+ millions Windows 7 installations available.
Why the heck are they complaining about a OS that is available in 0 customers PCs.

There are 65+ millions Xbox. Steam should have a greater customer base when you compare that with the amount of Windows installations worldwide. How many Linux/Mac installations available? I bet the same as Xbox. They are stupid and fools if they can't leverage those Windows installations.

If Xbox Live purchases are universal, as Apple's app store purchases are across its platform, gamers would be able to buy a game once and have it work across a variety of platforms.

Won't happen. I have ilomilo on the xbox from the XBLA, brought on my xbox live email account. The same game exists on the Windows Phone, again a XBLA title.. yet I have to buy it again? Why is it so hard to check if you already own the same game on different platforms if signed in with the same account?
Making the games universal isn't going to change things, It'll still mean that you'll be on the xbox console platform, and then you'll be buying them again on the PC platform, the Windows phone platform and the tablet (WinRT) platform if they can get away with it.

Apple does it and it's all positive, Linux(almost every major distro) does it same. Microsoft makes a store and everyone starts flipping out. I'm calling this one like it is. Fan boy biased bull**** across the board. I love Valve, I have over 100 games on Steam(Seifer20XX). Gabe is my favorite person in the game industry at the moment, but I can not side with him on this. We have Steam on Mac and Apple has a store. What is the issue here?

Danny Camilo said,
Apple does it and it's all positive, Linux(almost every major distro) does it same. Microsoft makes a store and everyone starts flipping out. I'm calling this one like it is. Fan boy biased bull**** across the board. I love Valve, I have over 100 games on Steam(Seifer20XX). Gabe is my favorite person in the game industry at the moment, but I can not side with him on this. We have Steam on Mac and Apple has a store. What is the issue here?

You make a good point, I wish all the complaining devs were a little more explanatory as to why they think windows 8 will be so catastrophic.

Danny Camilo said,
Apple does it and it's all positive, Linux(almost every major distro) does it same. Microsoft makes a store and everyone starts flipping out. I'm calling this one like it is. Fan boy biased bull**** across the board. I love Valve, I have over 100 games on Steam(Seifer20XX). Gabe is my favorite person in the game industry at the moment, but I can not side with him on this. We have Steam on Mac and Apple has a store. What is the issue here?

The gaming industry has mainly developed for Windows. There has been a limited amount of games distributed for Mac and Linux. So it affects the gaming industry more when Microsoft makes a store like this.

So why don't Valve just create a front end for Steam that can be downloaded for free in the Marketplace that runs in notMetro? This will put it in sight of the general public's eye more than it is at the minute, surely?

b_roca said,
So why don't Valve just create a front end for Steam that can be downloaded for free in the Marketplace that runs in notMetro? This will put it in sight of the general public's eye more than it is at the minute, surely?
Catastrophe! I mean, its not like they could do that and implement their own subscription and payment system (much like the one already created for Steam) and the only *cost* outside of dev time be the $199/y company Microsoft Store developer account.

b_roca said,
So why don't Valve just create a front end for Steam that can be downloaded for free in the Marketplace that runs in notMetro? This will put it in sight of the general public's eye more than it is at the minute, surely?

You cannot install non-Metro apps from the Marketplace, I believe. Or am I wrong on this?

lack of openness in the operating system's new interface

What is stopping Steam from creating their own environment and interface inside Metro?

Carmack's problems with Windows 8 may be more telling of how consumers will react when the operating system launches on October 26

I'd love to have your reasoning for this statement mapped out. The premise, of course, is that Carmack's opinion is one shared with average computer users.

MrHumpty said,

What is stopping Steam from creating their own environment and interface inside Metro?

There's a few reasons:


Windows Metro apps may only be installed from the windows app store. So valve wouldn't be able to sell other metro apps

Metro apps may not talk to Non-metro apps. This would prevent a metro steam from loading all current PC games.

By extention of the two rules above, A metro version of Steam wouldn't be able to install anything.

If the in-app payment rules are anything like on other platforms, microsoft would want ~30% cut of any game purchase which would canabalise valves profits.

MrHumpty said,

I'd love to have your reasoning for this statement mapped out. The premise, of course, is that Carmack's opinion is one shared with average computer users.

That was not the premise -- read the sentences both directly before and after what you quoted. The premise was that Carmack's criticisms came equally from his views as a consumer as they did his views as a developer; he specifically called out the new UI. Gabe's comments appear to come more from a business perspective.

MrHumpty said,

What is stopping Steam from creating their own environment and interface inside Metro?

It's pretty much due to Metro apps being sandboxed. They can't launch other applications or interact with any software outside of their own process. Unless Microsoft gives Steam some special provisions to to do so, it won't happen like that.

I'm more inclined to think that they (Microsoft) will eventually give 3rd party providers, such as steam, access to the games library via some API to allow them to show up there and manage and install them them via Windows API rather then the Metro app's code itself.
There are work arounds that can be done, but it's just very messy and without native metro app support, we'll just have small icons on the Start Screen when we could be having Live titles with things like achivement and progress showing up as well as say friends who are currently playing with options to join them in game etc.

pic related: http://i45.tinypic.com/2iggn4h.gif mockup with live tiles.

9point6 said,

There's a few reasons:


Windows Metro apps may only be installed from the windows app store. So valve wouldn't be able to sell other metro apps

Metro apps may not talk to Non-metro apps. This would prevent a metro steam from loading all current PC games.

By extention of the two rules above, A metro version of Steam wouldn't be able to install anything.

If the in-app payment rules are anything like on other platforms, microsoft would want ~30% cut of any game purchase which would canabalise valves profits.

Metro apps can talk to the web, which is what the iOS app does already. The current steam client will have to be installed anyway, the Metro version will just be a pretty front end. That's how the iOS app can tell your desktop to install something.

Also, unlike iOS or Android, because Windows is in the dominant position and been subject to anti-trust rules in the past (and not wanting to go through that again), Microsoft does not force developers to use their in-app purchase system. You can use your own assuming you have that system setup already. No 30% cut either. However, the key here is that because most developers do not have the infrastructure necessary to deal with processing large numbers of CC payments, they will still use Microsoft's system, even if it is a 30% cut, because setting that up costs a LOT of money and if you get hacked, you are screwed. I don't think anyone who doesn't already have such a system setup will go out of their way to do so, it's far easier to use someone else's.

So for Gabe, there really is little to be feared if Valve embraces the future instead of running away to Linux. I hope he does remember that simplicity is the reason why console games outsell PC games, and why installing a new OS is a daunting task for the average person.

9point6 said,
Windows Metro apps may only be installed from the windows app store. So valve wouldn't be able to sell other metro apps
They don't need to to continue their current business framework.
9point6 said,
Metro apps may not talk to Non-metro apps. This would prevent a metro steam from loading all current PC games.

There is nothing keeping steam from producing a Metro App that launches games inside of it.

From MS's own docs: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u.../windows/apps/hh464917.aspx

"There are no general size restriction on local data stored."

These means they can produce games in packages, store it within the metro app's sandbox and launch games within the metro apps sandbox.

9point6 said,
By extention of the two rules above, A metro version of Steam wouldn't be able to install anything.

See above. They don't need to "install" anything
9point6 said,
If the in-app payment rules are anything like on other platforms, microsoft would want ~30% cut of any game purchase which would canabalise valves profits.

Nobody is required to use MS's in App payment system. The Dev Agreement as well as the Building Windows 8 Blog posts have detailed that if an app chooses to roll their own payment system they are free to do so and are not subject to store fees.

Their entire business model can exist inside metro. It absolutely can exist on the desktop w/o any rewrite. Their arguments are baseless as are yours.

sagum said,
It's pretty much due to Metro apps being sandboxed. They can't launch other applications or interact with any software outside of their own process. Unless Microsoft gives Steam some special provisions to to do so, it won't happen like that.

They can always produce a metro platform to run games inside of their metro sandbox instance.
sagum said,
I'm more inclined to think that they (Microsoft) will eventually give 3rd party providers, such as steam, access to the games library via some API to allow them to show up there and manage and install them them via Windows API rather then the Metro app's code itself.

I'll believe that when I see it. I highly doubt MS will do that.

MrHumpty said,

There is nothing keeping steam from producing a Metro App that launches games inside of it.

This won't work. The games uses APIs that are not available in a sandbox.

The only viable solution is a frontend that communicates with the Steam servers which again communicates with the regular Steam client. I.e. using the frontend like a web-based remote for the regular Steam.

Newell complains about the death of OEM because of Windows 8 and the article is trying to explain why there will be a war between steam & the Windows store.
What is the logic in that ? (╯°□°)╯︵

So, this article is saying that if I have a windows 8 computer I don't really need the next version xbox. Good to know. I'll likely avoid both!

srbeen said,
So, this article is saying that if I have a windows 8 computer I don't really need the next version xbox. Good to know. I'll likely avoid both!

Rumors aren't inherently true -- kind of the definition of a rumor.

I don't see how this will be a problem though. People already use steam, if they stop using Steam, eg. deactivate account, they will not get access to their games they've purchased. You can't stop using Steam unless you want to buy all your games again. Even then, XBOX Live won't have all the games Steam offers, and vice versa.

People won't stop using Steam on their own, it's just too awesome, having so many games, famous sales and all. Is just that major publishers could drop it, say, because Valve's CEG has been beaten to dust numerous times. Perhaps Windows 8 will provide a new challenge, at least for some time. Publishers love DRM.

Phouchg said,
People won't stop using Steam on their own, it's just too awesome, having so many games, famous sales and all. Is just that major publishers could drop it, say, because Valve's CEG has been beaten to dust numerous times. Perhaps Windows 8 will provide a new challenge, at least for some time. Publishers love DRM.

What is Valve's CEG? Also Steam is the best game media center program, but I think this is a bad thing. Steam is missing so many basic functionality features that it's ridiculous.

De.Bug said,

What is Valve's CEG?

Custom Executable Generation is Valve's attempt at non-invasive type of DRM, simply coupling downloaded game's main program file with one's Steam account. All games on Steam use it. So share your steamapps directory with half the world, if you liek - you'll have to login to your and exactly your Steam account to play. No privacy issues either (unless you choose to).
Though it appears that most warez releases are steam-rips or retail copies with this mechanism bypassed. All DRM can be bypassed and most have been. That's why publishers are always on a lookout for something else - install limits/activations that uniquely identifies your computer rather than your person/account, device drivers like Tages and SecuROM (physical media check) that stay there and run even after you uninstall the game, unholy abominations like Ushyte... I mean, Uplay, permanent internet connection requirements etc..

It raises a question though, if Microsoft does feature Xbox prominently as it suggest in the article, wouldn't they be accused of anti-trust just as they were with browsers?

Eddo89 said,
It raises a question though, if Microsoft does feature Xbox prominently as it suggest in the article, wouldn't they be accused of anti-trust just as they were with browsers?

Hopefully that bull**** doesn't start again.

Eddo89 said,
... wouldn't they be accused of anti-trust just as they were with browsers?

To comply with the anti-trust regulation Microsoft would have to provide their integration API for games running on other platform. Technically easy, and perhaps it's already available in the standard SDK

Eddo89 said,
It raises a question though, if Microsoft does feature Xbox prominently as it suggest in the article, wouldn't they be accused of anti-trust just as they were with browsers?

I don't really see why would they. Apple does the same thing. I understand that Microsoft is more wide-worldly spread than Apple, but it sounds only natural that MS would try to unify their own services for their own operating system platforms and make it easier for the Xbox consumer. Read that again: XBOX consumer (as in the service, not [just] the console)!

Nothing is really changing here, people will still be able to buy PC games from Xbox Live just like they can buy PC games from Steam. Those that never used Xbox Live probably won't start just because it's now on the forefront of the new Windows 8. I am assuming this from personal experience, because I've used Steam instead of Xbox since I can remember getting my first internet connection at home. Testing Windows 8 in its development stages didn't change that one bit. Even casual gamers know what Xbox Live is, and what Steam is, and can understand the difference.

But if Newell thinks that the Linux platform could be the future of Steam, I say go right ahead. This whole deal with Windows 8 will not make him decide to drop the Windows platform, of course, but instead he can concentrate more on Linux and the openness that it provides, which is what he wants. And if that brings some joy to those that really, really like Linux more than Windows - why not? The company certainly has the funds to make this happen, so it's only a matter of time, I guess.

Xbox Live isn't actually integrated into Windows itself. WinRT has public APIs for associating Microsoft accounts with server-side data. Xbox Live apps use this to interact with Xbox Live but a developer could just as easily tie it to their own custom implementation of leaderboards and achievements and so forth.

The Dev Center has more details on the APIs and how they work:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-g...brary/windows/apps/hh465097

Eddo89 said,
It raises a question though, if Microsoft does feature Xbox prominently as it suggest in the article, wouldn't they be accused of anti-trust just as they were with browsers?

Not only games. What about music, movies, books etc? I can just imagine the EU and DOJ are watching very closely here.

Eddo89 said,
It raises a question though, if Microsoft does feature Xbox prominently as it suggest in the article, wouldn't they be accused of anti-trust just as they were with browsers?

Then a government body will basically be saying that Microsoft is the only company--the ONLY company--that isn't allowed to operate an app ecosystem packaged with their product. Every other desktop and mobile OS comes with app ecosystems, from Ubuntu to MeeGo to OS X to iOS, and even Windows Phone.

If anything, MS makes it easier than any other platform for a third party ecosystem to step in and function adjacent to the native offering. Nothing whatsoever is stopping Valve from making a 'metro' Steam client that sits right next to the XBox/Market tiles and is capable of triggering the install of, and managing updates for, other apps to the start screen. Achieving the same thing even on the Mighty Banner of Open Freedomness 'Android' involves changing a system setting that Android warns you about (manual apk installs) and still leaves you with the inconvenience of having to approve every single app install (while the Play store can auto-update/auto-install without the modal confirmation).

It comes to a point where the onus is on these committees to write out and explain exactly where the line is drawn in this vague, arbitrary concept of "abusing" monopoly power. Once every single one of your competitors are using a technology, technique, or metaphor, if they still haven't successfully dethroned you, clearly that feature isn't the 'powerful weapon' these governments seem to think they are.

Eddo89 said,
It raises a question though, if Microsoft does feature Xbox prominently as it suggest in the article, wouldn't they be accused of anti-trust just as they were with browsers?

I'm quite sure that as a big company, Microsoft probably has looked into legal ramifications, and have very likely learned from past mistakes to avoid the PR nightmare again.