Apple Will Now Let Windows Store Have iTunes


Microsoft’s Terry Meyerson raised eyebrows on Thursday when he announced Apple would bring iTunes to the Windows Store. What’s less clear is whether those eyebrows went up in joy or horror — Apple’s iTunes isn’t technically required if you want to use an iPhone any longer, but it still enjoys widespread mindshare, and can be used for local backups, software updates, and playlist management.




Bringing iTunes to the Windows Store is a significant feat for Microsoft, even if the actual need for the software isn’t what it once was. In the same way that Apple Macs gained market share once they were capable of running Windows (even if a majority of Mac owners don’t use it), being able to advertise iTunes support in the Windows Store is a way for Microsoft to talk up the compatibility options and strengthening ecosystem of Windows 10’s store, even if most people don’t use it, either. And Microsoft needs quite a few more of these wins if it ever wants to persuade people that a laptop running Windows 10 S is a viable replacement for standard Windows.
I don’t use the word “persuade” by accident. I think Windows 10 S, which restricts users to apps that they can download from the Windows Store, has a valid role to play, particularly given how Google has turned Chromebooks into educational devices. Microsoft doesn’t want to see kids and teenagers using Chrome OS for their computing needs, and ceding the education market to Google in the K-18 segment is practically giving away the collegiate market later. Microsoft wants people on Windows, and it’s taking the steps necessary to keep them there. What’s more surprising is that Apple even agreed to such a move, given the company’s general lack of enthusiasm for supporting platforms other than its own.
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But Microsoft’s willingness to embrace other companies’ products clearly has its limits. According to Ed Bott, Chrome and other browsers definitively won’t be coming to the Windows Store, even though Microsoft has created tools that could simplify this process. The reason, according to a Microsoft representative:
Desktop Browsers installed from the Store aren’t more secured by default. They are secure only if, like Edge, they’re true UWP apps, so they run in a sandbox environment and they don’t have access to the overall system. Converted apps, instead, have some components which are virtualized (like the registry or file system redirection) but, except for that, they have the “runFullTrust” capability, so [they] can go out from the sandbox and perform operations that can be malicious.
There are, of course, good reasons to treat the browser like a special piece of software, given the hooks it has to the operating system and the manner in which browser security flaws can be exploited to give critical access to the rest of the OS. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that these same arguments are also being deployed by Microsoft as a reason not to allow third-party browsers on its own platform.
One could argue, however, that any user anger over that limitation reflects an old way of looking at the situation — one in which Microsoft has unquestioned and absolute control over what operating system people use in the first place. If you view the PC world as being comprised of Macs and PCs, than this view makes sense. If you think of it as being made up of Android, iOS, Windows, and Chrome OS, then Microsoft no longer has anything like a monopoly, and its actions here aren’t necessarily those of an entrenched monopoly throwing its weight around — they’re more like those of an embattled competitor trying to carve out meaningful distinction for its own products.


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