Tim Sweeney: ‘Windows Cloud Is Ransomware’

Over the last few days the tech community has been busy unpacking a new version of Windows, dubbed “Windows Cloud”. Microsoft hasn’t officially confirmed its existence, but the horse has well and truly bolted after a build of the OS appeared on Twitter.

Shortly after that, people began dissecting the nature of Windows Cloud. And the first thing that popped up was a disturbing message telling users that “the app you’re trying to run isn’t designed for this version of Windows”. So, naturally, people got annoyed. Enter stage right, Tim Sweeney.

Sweeney, founder of Epic Games, has been shitty at Microsoft for a fair while. He’s been crying foul ever since Microsoft announced their plans for the Universal Windows Platform model, accusing the Windows maker of trying to “close down the Windows ecosystem”.

So when reports started emerging that Windows Cloud was locking users down to applications that could only be installed from the Windows Store, Sweeney saw red. He fired out a volley of tweets on the weekend, but early this morning the red mist had been dispelled by mushroom clouds.

Not willing to download Dodgy OS.iso from a random account on Twitter, I hadn’t played around with Windows Cloud and therefore couldn’t confirm any of the claims. But Digital Trends had no such qualms (because they had a virtual machine ready-to-go) and found a setting in “Apps & Features” that lets users install applications from anywhere.

By default Windows Cloud allows only apps from the Windows Store, and there is some logic to that. Giving users ultimate power over their machine is more or less how people end up infecting their machines with all sorts of malware, viruses and other garbage. But – and I won’t be the only one saying this – while security is ever-important, a better solution to that is for more users to become educated about how they use their computer, not instilling restrictions on what they can and can’t install on their machines.

And while Sweeney might be right about what Microsoft wants to do in the long-term, the basic principle is solid. Windows 10 has complete control over the operating environment of UWP apps, a design feature that ensures a malicious app or malicious code in the app can’t leave that environment and screw with the rest of your OS. (That doesn’t mean some one won’t, or hasn’t, found a way around those restrictions, but that’s the idea.)

To clarify things further, it’s important to understand some of the context surrounding Windows Cloud. From the various reports out there, Windows Cloud is being designed as a Windows 10 variant to Google’s Chrome OS platform. The overarching idea is that it’ll be a speedy, low-overhead version of Windows 10 that can stream content to any device, a bit like a modern spin on Windows RT.

That said, it hasn’t stopped Sweeney from beating the drum:

This story originally appeared on Kotaku.

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