Of course I am going to be drawn to a Lifehacker article exploring reasons why the new Mac store is going to suck (to be fair posted as half of a pair of articles, the other exploring the store’s virtues). I’ve made no secret of my wrath at Apple’s authoritarian control of their mobile platform. Mostly this arises from my frustration with the fact that there is no good reason for it to be this way. Given that you could describe the Mac App Store as a fancy package manager, the extra rules and constraints chafe all the more.
I will admit to being curious at the source of Whitson Gordon’s list in this article. Some of the items I’ve read elsewhere, like the inability to offer seamless paid upgrades, but some are complete surprises. I find it a little hard to credit that Apple is seriously going to forbid desktop applications from starting themselves when a user logs in, run components in the background, or forbid asking for escalated privileges. If true, these limitations really would turn the Mac into more of an appliance than a computer.
Mostly what I have to wonder is how the presence of the store is going to affect the environment of a typical Mac over time. The biggest reason not to get to incensed at Apple is that (for now) OS X doesn’t in any way prevent the more traditional ways of installing software. In fact, Anil Dash offered some food for thought on taking advantage of that fact to provide a competing app store with more sane policies. (My thoughts on the matter are here.)
The comparison of an app store to a Linux package manager is not far off the mark and it is easy to understand the appeal of bring some version of this concept to normal users (for values of normal excluding hackers, tinkers, early adopters, et. al.). A straw poll of comparable Linux users is likely to reveal that for distributions with robust package managers, hand compiled or manually installed software is a fraction of the total software on a system swiftly approaching zero. Why would a tool from Apple for installing and keeping software from all comers up to date be any different? That’s what drives my prediction of Macs becoming little better than beefier iPads with bundled physical keyboards.
Why the Mac App Store Sucks, Lifehacker