2: A dilapidated storefront

This was not supposed to be today's topic. But another wave of fail-to-launch bugs has hit anyone with the misfortune to have downloaded applications from the Mac App Store.

I got off easy this time. When I went to make recordings yesterday, I turned to Piezo, my lightweight audio app of choice. (Rogue Amoeba, its creator, has recently made a public exit from continuing to sell Piezo on the Mac App Store — as Federico Viticci pointed out, hardly news, and not the issue at hand either.) Prior to launch, a dreaded dialog box appeared: in order to use the app, I had to authenticate with my Apple ID to appease the Mac App Store.

This. Should. Not. Happen. Ever.

I understand that the MAS is a store — and like any store, it has to prevent people from pilfering its goods. But the DRM scheme that quietly went into place at the store's inception is just misguided. Any given Mac should have to be authenticated to the store once in its lifetime — that's necessary. After that, there should be no phoning home, no expired certificates, and if that's not industry standard, that shouldn't matter to Apple. They need to set an acceptable standard for their store.

Apple's vision of the future of computing is one in which apps are easily obtained from a central source. We know this is true because they've called their iOS hardware "the future of computing" and it's the only means of distribution on iOS. So anyone who's truly forward-thinking would be getting all their apps there. And someone who did, it seems, could wake up to a computer with no launchable apps, a computer devoid of functionality, a computer worse than the past.

The Mac App Store's certificate woes are different from the "Error 53" that recently rendered some iPhones unusable — literally bricked. But Error 53 was a (poor) response to a significant user-authorized if not user-performed action: replacement of the home button and Touch ID hardware. Those devices rightly interpreted their internal state as one in which a security feature had been tampered with. And anyone who's had their iPhone disassembled and reassembled can infer that might cause some failure. What did Mac App Store users do that would lead them to believe that all their apps would die yesterday? Nothing. They just let time pass. They just dared to use their Macs in the way Apple envisioned.

There are only two paths from here, and the road taken must be chosen by WWDC. In 10.12, either faith in the Mac App Store has to be restored — for ordinary users, power users, and developers alike — or the whole thing has to be shut down, condemned. A physical store in this condition wouldn't be allowed to stand. If Apple has any pride in the Mac and its future, they won't allow it either.