There’s now an App Store for the Mac to match that of the iPhone and iPad, and it carries the same battery of restrictions. Some restrictions, accepted as normal in the context of a mobile phone, seem more unfamiliar in the PC landscape. For example, software for the Mac App Store is not permitted to make the Mac environment look different than it does out of the box. (Ironic for a company with a former motto importuning people to think different.) Developers can’t add an icon for their app to the desktop or the dock without user permission, an amazing echo of what landed Microsoft in such hot water. (Though with Microsoft, the problem was prohibiting the removal of the IE icon—Microsoft didn’t try to prevent the addition of other software icons, whether installed by the PC maker or the user.) Developers can’t duplicate functionality already on offer in the Store. They can’t license their work as Free Software, because those license terms conflict with Apple’s. The content restrictions are unexplored territory.

Jonathan Zittrain.

None of this makes sense to me. Apple prevents developers from re-shaping my desktop environment without my permission, and that’s “an amazing echo” of Microsoft’s refusal to let computer makers remove IE from the desktop of their machines? The two situations are completely disanalogous. If Apple is preventing apps sold in the Mac App Store from doing weird stuff to my computer — but allowing me to do whatever I want with it — isn’t that protection of the freedom of the user than than some form of manufacturer’s tyranny? I don’t get it.

Similarly, Apple isn’t trying to prevent me from installing free-as-in-speech software, just not featuring it in the Mac App Store. Isn’t that a pretty big difference?

I usually love Zittrain’s work, but I don’t get this article at all. I wonder what I’m misunderstanding.