"The VR revolution that’s happening now – there’s no direct VR interface with Microsoft. If you tried to make it work with the UWP system present, it would never happen."
- Epic Games chief Tim Sweeney
"Microsoft has been taking a series of steps for a while now to close down the Windows ecosystem,” Sweeney said in an onstage conversation at the GamesBeat Summit this week. “They can’t do it all at once, because there would be an industry uproar. But one little step at a time, they’re trying to take it all over. UWP is another step in that direction."
That alone isn't new, of course; Sweeney said much the same thing in a Guardian column published two months ago. However, it's interesting to see him continuing to beat this drum, given that in the weeks since Microsoft has taken steps to publicly address his criticism.
"What Tim wanted us to say is 'We're not locking down the app framework to lock down people's ability to distribute games and applications on the platform,'" Xbox frontman Phil Spencer reportedly told press at Microsoft's Build developer conference in late March. "That's right, that's not what we're doing."
But this week Sweeney suggested that even if UWP is not the only way PC developers can distribute their work on Windows now, its existence shows Microsoft is willing to more actively exert influence on the PC ecosystem. That will have (he argues) a fundamentally stifling effect on the development of PC games and technologies like GPUs and virtual reality, which is not (yet) meaningfully supported with UWP apps.
"The GPU revolution started there, well before Microsoft adopted it. If that had relied on Microsoft initiative and Microsoft had actively blocked external drivers and apps supporting these things they didn’t approve of, it never would have happened," Sweeney said. "Open platforms encourage innovation, and when you have a closed platform and a monopoly on commerce, it stifles it."