Windows 8 And The New Sandbox Model

When it comes to the security of any system, there are compromises that must be made. And the compromises are many. If you want the computer to be heavily secured then you have to limit the access that people have on the computer. And you have to make it hard for the user to open up that access. When we say access we mean the ability for the computer to be able to talk to outside influences such as the internet. But if you want people to be able to access the internet easily then you have to leave the system more open and hope for the best. Sure there are some types of security that you can use to help but overall you have to leave a lot of holes in the system.

On the other side of that equation, if you are a programmer you expect to have a certain amount of power to work with. When you are talking about programming the word power is used to mean how deep you can get in the system. So if you are a programmer and you feel that your access to the power of the system is limited then you start to feel as if you are in a cage. You feel that you are limited to what you can do on the system and this makes your ideas limited as well.

Windows 8 And The New Sandbox Model

With Windows 8 Microsoft has decided that the average programmer cannot be all powerful on the system anymore and they are limiting what they can do on it. This is true at least when it comes to the Metro side of the operating system. Yes, Microsoft has announced that coming with Windows 8 there are going to be two sides of the operating system. The first side is an interface that you are familiar with known as the desktop side and the other side is the Metro side. The Metro side of the operating system is going to be locked off to an extent to programmers since you are going to have to deliver applications within the confines of the new Microsoft app store.

What is the Microsoft app store?

Over the past couple of years, we have seen Apple and Android phones install applications through a process of going through what is known as their app store. When you need a new app on these platforms you go through one centralized place. And in this place the apps have been vetted. Apple liked this model so much that they decided to step it up a notch and they placed an app store on the desktop side as well. You can now download apps in one place on an Apple computer. But also you had the safety in knowing that Apple had vetted the apps that were in there. Sure, you could still install apps that were found outside of this store but you had no guarantee of their safety.

Microsoft decided that they liked this plan also so they created their own app store that is coming with the new release of Windows 8. As we said earlier in the article, the apps that are going to be loaded in the app store will have limited access to the system. This is because they are going to be what is known as sandboxed. Sandboxing an app means that it is in its own virtual space and if something happens to it then it only affects that app and not your whole system. In the past if an app would crash then there was a small chance that it might take down the whole computer. This only happened if the crash was a serious one. But with the new Sandbox that Windows is employing, a problem like that should almost never happen.

This goes back to the point that we were making earlier in the article. When it comes to security of the system, compromises must be made. So now that Windows 8 apps on the Metro side are going to be sandboxed, this also means that there will be less innovation going on. Sure, this will not affect 90% of the apps that are going to be made. But it is that last 10% that you have to worry about. There is going to be a glass ceiling that programmers are going to have to worry about hitting all of the time. And you cannot just sneak a hack and use the system functions that you need. Microsoft will be vetting every app through an approval process. This means that if they find you using a function that is not authorized then your app will be rejected.

When it comes to the security of the system, you are always going to have to make compromises. We will see soon if the new sandbox model of Windows 8 Metro is the right compromise or not.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. […] to make sure that they are going to be effective on it. They need to know if there are any special parts of the new operating system that are going to affect the way that they work. So with the new Windows 8 being released, developers are making sure that Microsoft has everything […]

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