Sandboxing is a good thing @marcoarment – a good thing!

Please read it again: Sandboxing is a good thing!

Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, and awesome Apple nerd (this is a compliment), argues that the Mac App Store is pretty much risking being relegated to the backbench by enforcing, among other things, sandboxing.

Let me explain, in simple terms, what sandboxing does:
Sandboxing enforces strict policies on what any given app in OS X can execute, access, and open. In a nutshell, of course.

Marco, to illustrate his point, uses examples of apps that are not allowed in the MAS, and apps that recently left it. Apps like Microsoft Office, VMWare Fusion, some stuff by Adobe, TextExpander, SuperDuper, and so on.

I take exception for two reasons:

1. There are alternatives to almost all of the apps Marco mentions, that use sandboxing. For example Apple’s own iWork suite. If Apple can do it, I’m sure Microsoft can get it done too. Sure there’s stuff like VMWare Fusion, that will need access to system resources not granted to MAS apps, so it will never be available on the MAS, but come on…apps like that are for a very small base of customers. Keep in mind: Through Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper implementation, it’s possible for apps like that to get a certificate by Apple, so even though they won’t be on the MAS, they are still “ok”.

2. Sandboxing protects the user simply by making sure that some, not all, malicious code in apps can’t screw them. Macs are generally safer to use than PC’s, but recent events have shown that they are vulnerable too.

I don’t think that 99% of users will care if they can’t get highly-specialized software on the MAS. They care about one-stop shopping of the apps they use mainly, like iPhoto, Aperture, Photoshop (Essentials, which is more than enough for most people), and the iWork suite.

There’s always going to be niche cases, of course, but I think that’s a small prize to pay for security.


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