First, the Mac App Store was opt-in.
Then, it was opt-out.
Then, it prompted when applications were run if they weren't installed from the App Store.
Then it required admin access to allow sideloaded applications.
It's abundantly clear that Apple is using the winning formula from iOS and applying it to OSX. Slowly, of course, but mark my words: within the next release or two of OSX, you'll see at least a few of these:
-require a terminal command to enable sideloaded apps,
-prompt every time a sideloaded app is run without the ability to suppress it.
-require a third party patch of some kind.
-require some sort of jailbreaking procedure.
-threat of voided warranty if sideloaded apps are found.
OSX isn't a walled garden yet...but Tim Cook is absolutely building a wall. And his customers are paying for it.
For starters, there's a limit to apps in the Mac App Store. They can't install device drivers, nor can they be "demo" apps.
Admittedly I'm not a daily Mac user, but I'm having a rough time coming up with hardware that fits the limitations. Device drivers? I'm having trouble coming up with one that doesn't come from Apple directly. Even specialty/media hardware tends to either be class compliant or properly autodiscovered, and typically the super-specialty hardware (like MRI machines or factory floor operations equipment) tends to be PC specific.
And then those apps are sandboxed - they do not have full access to the filesystem. So this excludes a whole bunch of utilities.
Okay, so WinDirStat and XYplorer and Defraggler are out...
Finally, Gatekeeper only pops up the message when a app is copied from "untrusted" sources. What's untrusted? Stuff downloaded from the internet. Not stuff obtained from USB sticks or optical media, or even... the compiler.
Apple doesn't sell machines with optical drives anymore, and very few pieces of software made it to flash drive distribution. Basically everything is download now, so Gatekeeper is going to apply to like 99% of software installed that isn't from the MAS. The compiler makes sense, because it's the same user account doing the compiling as is approving the message from Gatekeeper...and again, applies to developers and basically nobody else.
And the Mac App Store has a $1000 limit on pricing.
That's where IAPs come into play. The kitchen sink edition of the Waves plug-ins costs about $7,000, but one at a time they're like $800. People regularly spend more than $1,000 on phone apps; desktop app devs aren't going to let something like that slow them down.
And there's the few developers who will never be on there - Adobe and Microsoft, in particular.
So as long as people want to use Photoshop, Office on Mac, keeps it open.
This is probably the best case made. Part of me is thinking that Apple and Microsoft can absolutely come to some sort of arrangement, and that while Adobe may largely be in the same boat, they've managed to figure out how to make annual releases of Photoshop Elements a thing for a decade beyond its feature-completeness. Serif has got a bullseye on Photoshop with their $40 Affinity Photo, and Apple's gutting of the 'pro' versions of their products to be on par with midrange PCs makes me wonder how much they care about pissing off pro photographers.
As long as AutoCAD costs more than $1000, it will be open. (AutoCAD LE, though, is sold through the Mac App Store. Autodesk has said they make more per copy of AutoCAD LE than through their resellers).
AutoCAD is far from an OSX staple. it spent about 30 years being PC-only prior to its release on the Mac in 2011, and only a very small number of the very expensive Mac Pros have Firepro or Quadro cards to take advantage of the rendering capabilities beyond the LE version.
As long as people want to connect oddball music devices or other device to the Mac requiring a device driver, it will have to be open.
Oddball music devices = CoreAudio Class Compliant or MIDI. I haven't seen a Presonus/Tascam/Focusrite/Rane/Pioneer device that required a device driver install for a Mac in over a decade. Virtually every printer I've installed in the last five years has had its driver auto-downloaded and auto-installed; even Windows 10 does this almost perfectly now.
As long as people want to use utilities like disk management, disk repair, etc, will keep it open.
Are there any besides Disk Utility that matter? Even the Microcenter shelves don't seem to have them. I'm not saying they don't exist, but I am saying that Raxco does not have the clout to avoid having Apple say "too bad, so sad".
And yes, the compiler is trusted. So even in the worst case, it would result in macOS being the first commercial OS that supports open-source over closed source applications. (Take that, RMS).
Well, you may be right - they won't *truly* close it, they'll just close it to other companies that want to distribute closed source software independent of the App Store. You can always get VLC that way, but that's not nearly the same as the present system as it currently stands. Remember, we're dealing with a company who is perfectly fine telling people with $300 Beats headphones "use an adapter".
The only thing non-Mac App Store apps cannot do is access iCloud...
That's not a bug, it's a feature. MAS apps can access iCloud, store data in iCloud, and have their own slice of data in iCloud. Users pay for 1TB of cloud storage, and all their data syncs along with their apps. "Meet your new Macbook. Same as your old Macbook." This is a selling point.
Hell, even iOS is not bound by the walled garden - open source applications can be loaded on any modern iOS device via a Mac without approval from Apple or paying $99. XCode can compile and use a sefl-signed certificate for iOS apps. Sure you have to reload them every 30 days or so, but it's an era of openness that hasn't been seen before.
So, to install an OSS application on my iPhone, I need to:
-own a Mac.
-generate a certificate.
-compile the code.
-load the app.
-rinse and repeat monthly.
That is one HELL of a definition of 'open'. It is basically every possible roadblock aside from actually-disallowing compiling. Android has a thousand things that piss me off, but it's about 90% as practical and convenient to get apps from F-Droid or AppBrain or Amazon as it is from Google. Downloading APKs from the internet are almost as simple (dumb, but simple). Apple provides no such analogue.
Apple may be moving slowly along the trajectory, but their trajectory and momentum is toward closing things, not opening things.