Tim Sweeney is at it again, and this time he has his tin foil hat on. This is opposed to last time, when the Gears of War developer was simply misinformed to the nature of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP).
In an interview with Edge Magazine, Sweeney started by noting that UWP will turn Windows 10 into a closed platform, which is similar to his accusations from March.
There are two programming interfaces for Windows and every app has to choose one of them. Every Steam app - every PC game for the past few decades - has used Win32. It's been both responsible for the vibrant software market we have now, but also for malware. Any program can be a virus. Universal Windows Platform is seen as the antidote to that. It's sandboxed - much more locked down. The risk here is that, if Microsoft convinces everyone to use UWP, then they phase out Win32 apps. If they can succeed in doing that then it's a small leap to forcing all apps and games to be distributed through the Windows store. Once we reach that point, the PC has become a closed platform. It won't be that one day they flip a switch that will break your Steam library - what they're trying to do is a series of sneaky maneauvres. They make it more and more inconvenient to use the old apps, and, simultaneously, they try to become the only source for the new ones.
Then, when asked how Microsoft could realistically beat Steam, he devised a theory that Microsoft will update Windows 10 to a point where Steam will essentially break.
Slowly, over the next 5 years, they will force-patch Windows 10 to make Steam progressively worse and more broken. They'll never completely break it, but will continue to break it until, in five years, people are so fed up that Steam is buggy that the Windows Store seem like an ideal alternative. That's exactly what they did to their previous competitors in other areas. Now they're doing it to Steam. It's only just starting to become visible. Microsoft might not be competent enough to succeed with their plan but they are certainly trying.
As mentioned above, this is not the first time that the Epic Games co-founder has attacked UWP. In March, he called it a "walled garden", saying that Microsoft makes it impossible to download and install UWP apps and games from third party sites by default.
Microsoft's head of Xbox Phil Spencer responded a few days later, saying that "UWP is a fully open ecosystem, available to every developer, and can be supported by any store." The Windows 10 November Update also made it so that users could side-load UWP apps by default.
In the interview, Sweeney implies that Spencer's statements were just "PR moves":
They've been able to [start] this via some sneaky PR moves. They make a bunch of statements that sound vaguely like they're promising openness but really they're not promising anything of the sort.
Nevertheless, there is no actual evidence that Microsoft will break Steam over the next five years, or that the company will make a move to push all UWP apps into the Windows Store. As it currently stands, Sweeney's words are nothing more than a conspiracy theory.
Microsoft will likely respond to Sweeney's comments within the next couple of days. Make sure to pop some corn.