This is a game development forum, mate. We're all software developers (with a few exceptions). It's definitely something they can and should improve - part of the delay being that most of it is web pages in disguise.
I think Steam's GUI is just crap. yes, crap. it's painfull slow. they can speed that but they don't care.
This is Valve fault. I'm a software developer, so i know they can speed up this crap if they whant. what you don't realise is that Steam has no competition.
However, frequently it starts up fast - it's just during peak hours, so they probably need to add more and better servers - something more competition will definitely help.
For increased download speeds, they ought to integrate some sort of distributed torrent-like download system if they don't already.
Steam is by far the digital store winner, in the same way Microsoft is by far the desktop OS winner. But Origin is only a year old, and already has +9 million accounts (though how many are active accounts is another matter - Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3, Crysis 2 originally required Origin to be installed or were Origin exclusive, iirc).
Origin a competition to Steam? how many people like Origin? I've seen many complaining and none defending. in this thread, how many times steam was mentioned and how many times origin was? Steam already has no competition.
Impulse is also a real competitor - and Impulse has a loyal community (or had, I don't know how it's buyout effected the userbase), and an estimated (in 2009) 10% of the market. It probably has at least 3 million users - maybe even 5 million, but that's a guess on my part - in 2009 it had over a million.
Hard to find numbers, but their competitor 'Impulse' estimated that Steam had 70% of the digital market, back in 2009. Since that time, Impulse has been sold to GameStop, EA launched Origin, and Desura was launched, and I'm sure a dozen small fish probably were created as well.
you said Microsoft has 90% of the market share, but how many of those costumers are gammers?
I never was arguing that Steam isn't large, and I'm not arguing for less competition for Steam. Steam needs more competition, for sure! But fair competition.
54 million PC games estimated (probably underestimated - some estimate over 100 million) vs 40-50 million or more Steam users - 75% max, maybe lower.
and how many of those gammers are already Steam custumers?
I've told you why I cared several times already: Short term benefits of a mainstream Microsoft dominance does not outweigh the long term benefits of real competition that forces innovation.
And why you care? if microsoft show you better deals and don't impose the burden of having to run steam on the background while i play, then valve better catch up.
The 'real magic' of this store is what Impulse has been offering since 2001 (previously named StarDock Central)? Amazon.com does it also. Want to buy a digital copy of Microsoft Office? Amazon.com has that.
it's not unfair competition, it's competition. Games for Windows Live has been there for ages. if it doesn't offer nothing better, it won't be used by gammers, but the real magic of this store is other software. all of that software in one place will really make my life and the life of many other people much easier.
Other stores will offer more and more of that - Steam is offering it soon. If that's the only thing that puts Windows Store ahead of the other options, fine.
I'm all for Microsoft selling digital software - and they have for years. I'm fine with them innovating and improving their services to become more competitive, I'm just not fine with them doing something that courts have all-but deemed to be abusive in the past.
Once more: I am not complaining about competition - competition is good. I am complaining about a possible abuse of power, hindering competition, that reduces benefits and growth of industry, affecting consumers with a lack of benefits/features/services they otherwise would've had. The consumer is not going to lose anything they already have by Microsoft gaining dominance unfairly, but they will lose what they could've gained for free (better services and better deals) if real competition continued.
If it turns out that Windows Store doesn't slaughter all the competition, no harm done. If it does gain 85% or more of the market, I think we might lose out over the next 5 years with slower growth of features and benefits in digital services.
There is one benefit of the Windows Store that benefits the whole digital sales market: It widens the market to much more consumers, making it more mainstream and everyone benefiting. Hopefully it forces the the United States ISPs improve our poor networks as well (upstream and downstream).