Creative Software Solutions
Microsoft - Don't lock down
I was asked to fill out a survey about customer satisfaction with Microsoft today. After selecting the "I have negative feelings about Microsoft" option I was asked to explain why. This was my response.
1 - Lack of support for compiling or running 3rd party desktop apps for WindowsRT.
I fully understand that this is a different platform, and that existing apps will not work, but I find the fact that you are blocking 3rd party apps from running on the desktop worrying.
The benefits of Windows has always been the ubiquity and huge range of the available software. Locking down WindowsRT in this way removes a major driving factor of the platform. I understand that you want to drive the Modern UI as the new primary platform, but the fact is that some types of apps and utilities just aren't suited to the new design metaphor. Locking down the platform in this way shows your lack of interest in 3rd party developers on your platform.
2 - Lack of support (or clear information) for side-loading Modern UI apps.
The process for side-loading Modern UI apps (outside of the store) is full of complexity and uncertainty. The requirement for a side loading key (at cost) and the unclear information about purchasing these keys is making the decision to develop business software for the Modern UI a difficult one. The fact is that we will not be developing business applications for the Modern UI until we have a clear path to deployment outside of the store and we know exactly how much our customers will have to pay to unlock their machines for side loading. (Buying side loading keys in minimum packs of 1000 for example is not likely to be something that many target markets will be able to consider).
I understand that both of these restrictions have security implications, but providing a simple way for the owner of the physical device to remove the locks under certain circumstances (or add specific trusted signing keys) at zero cost will massively improve the confidence we have in developing for your platforms.
I'm concerned that this locked down nature is an indicator of the future direction of the Microsoft platforms and as such I'm being more careful in considering available options for future projects.
Later there was a related question: What one specific improvement could Microsoft make that would have the greatest impact on your satisfaction?
My Answer: Allow device owners to add specific trusted certificates that permit 3rd party apps to run on the WindowsRT desktop and to be installed on the Modern UI outside of the Microsoft store. This single change alone will allow us to dive immediately into development of apps for this platform and start recommending Windows 8 to our customers.