Archive for December 12, 2022

Monday, December 12, 2022

Blog Updates (Late 2022)

Over the last month or two I’ve made several improvements to this blog:

Hopefully, none of these changes has introduced any new problems. If you see anything wrong, please let me know.


The Swifty Future of Foundation

Tony Parker (tweet):

The swift-corelibs-foundation project helped launch the open source Swift version of Foundation in 2016, wrapping a Swift layer around the preexisting, open source C implementation of Foundation.


Today, we are announcing a new open source Foundation project, written in Swift, for Swift.


With a native Swift implementation of Foundation, the framework no longer pays conversion costs between C and Swift, resulting in faster performance.


Multiple implementations of any API risks divergent behavior and ultimately bugs when moving code across platforms. This new Foundation package will serve as the core of a single, canonical implementation of Foundation, regardless of platform.


Open source projects are at their best when the community of users can participate and become a community of developers. A new, open contribution process will be available to enable all developers to contribute new API to Foundation.

This sounds great. My understanding is that Foundation started as Objective-C and was re-written for Mac OS X to wrap Core Foundation, where possible—much like swift-corelibs-foundation wraps CF in Swift. This added some overhead but unified the implementations. Since then, Foundation has been rewritten back into Objective-C, which made it faster. Now, it sounds like the plan is to rewrite it in Swift and extend Swift to allow Objective-C to call the Swift implementation of the old API.

Tony Parker:

We’ve prototyped this approach and are pretty sure it will work out well. A reimplementation of Calendar in Swift is 1.5x to 18x as fast as the C one (calling from Swift in various synthetic benchmarks like creation, date calculation). And it’s completely compatible with the existing C and ObjC entry points, too.

David Smith:

This means that now

  • Foundation has the option to use a memory safe language internally
  • Most system components that Foundation depends on have the option to use a memory safe language internally
  • Embedded environments like the Secure Enclave can use Swift
  • Pure-Swift processes use less memory
  • Swift Strings use less memory and are faster
  • Swift WebAssembly programs can be much smaller to download
  • NSString<->String bridging can use Foundation/CoreFoundation internals directly, resulting in some speedups

Tony Parker:

Many of Foundation’s features have been subsumed by direct support in the language. These types are currently not planned to be brought forward into the new package[…] On Darwin, the Foundation framework will continue to maintain implementations for these types in a combination of C, Objective-C and Swift.

It’s seems somewhat undetermined what the plan is for functionality in the old types that is not available elsewhere.


Update (2023-01-12): See also: Sergio De Simone (via Hacker News).

CleanShot X 4.5

MTW (via Ryan Jones):

  • ✨ Introducing Background Tool in Annotate - easily create beautiful social media posts that stand out from others
  • 🎨 Crop Tool will now recognize background color - automatically detects background color when you expand the canvas
  • 🗑️ You can now remove files from Capture History
  • 🔍 Added filter option to Capture History

It’s $29 for one year of updates or $8/month with unlimited cloud storage.


FTC Sues Microsoft to Block Activision Blizzard Purchase

Federal Trade Commission (via Hacker News):

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to block technology giant Microsoft Corp. from acquiring leading video game developer Activision Blizzard, Inc. and its blockbuster gaming franchises such as Call of Duty, alleging that the $69 billion deal, Microsoft’s largest ever and the largest ever in the video gaming industry, would enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.

In a complaint issued today, the FTC pointed to Microsoft’s record of acquiring and using valuable gaming content to suppress competition from rival consoles, including its acquisition of ZeniMax, parent company of Bethesda Softworks (a well-known game developer). Microsoft decided to make several of Bethesda’s titles including Starfield and Redfall Microsoft exclusives despite assurances it had given to European antitrust authorities that it had no incentive to withhold games from rival consoles.

Tom Warren and Jay Peters:

“We continue to believe that this deal will expand competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s vice chair and president, said in a statement to The Verge.


Microsoft offered Sony a 10-year deal on new Call of Duty games last month, but Sony hasn’t yet accepted the offer. A similar deal was agreed upon between Nintendo and Valve, though. It could see Call of Duty heading to Nintendo consoles if the Activision Blizzard deal is approved.

John Gruber:

We’ll see how it plays out, but my gut feeling is that this is a mistake on the FTC’s part. The video game industry is incredibly competitive today. Yes, Xbox and PlayStation are the only two high-end consoles, but the Switch is quite arguably Nintendo’s most successful platform ever. And it’s not like Sony is some shrinking violet and lacks for its own exclusive titles. Exclusive titles are a big part of competition. It’s also the case that the dominant players in console and PC gaming are not the dominant players in mobile gaming (Apple and Google).

Florian Mueller:

I’m even more disappointed in what’s going on now, with the FTC wasting resources and losing credibility only because of some decision makers’ desire to be seen as boldly anti-Big Tech. And it isn’t even really anti-Big Tech because Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) has the potential to contribute enormously to a level playing field in mobile app distribution, ultimately benefiting the little guys.


In yesterday’s analysis of the complaint, I explained that the FTC hasn’t lied here--but it is fair to say that the FTC, which is hard pressed to find any argument for blocking a totally lawful and even procompetitive merger, has misled a lot of people into thinking that Microsoft walked back on a promise on which the clearance of a previous game studio acquisition depended.

Microsoft published a document (PDF) that explains what exactly happened around that acquisition: Microsoft kept its word.


Update (2022-12-26): Florian Mueller:

Yesterday, Insider Gaming reported something that could play quite a role in the various regulatory reviews of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard King. According to unnamed Sony-internal sources, PlayStation chief Jim Ryan said at an employee Q&A Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass offering doesn’t worry him in the slightest[…]

Update (2023-04-26): Florian Mueller:

What is at stake now after the UK Competition & Market Authority’s unbelievable decision (summary (PDF)) to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard King (ABK) is not just the credibility of that particular regulatory agency and its leadership. The more fundamental question that will have to be answered now is whether the rule of law is intact.

See also: Hacker News.

Update (2023-06-13): David Shepardson:

The FTC said Microsoft and Activision had signaled the deal could close as soon as Friday and asked a federal judge to block any final agreement before 11:59 p.m ET June 15.

Update (2023-06-15): Florian Mueller:

The FTC case places the emphasis on a vertical input foreclosure theory relating to videogame consoles. That one has been rejected by the regulators in charge of 40 countries. Even the UK CMA dropped that one after it made a mathematical mistake that was quite unbelievable and doomed that theory of harm.

The FTC complaint does also mention cloud gaming, so the FTC will try to somehow convince the United States District Court for the Northern District of California that the CMA decision weighs in favor of a TRO and a PI. But cloud gaming as more of an afterthought in the FTC's original December 2022 complaint, and they now had to bring a federal complaint consistent with the one they filed with their in-house court.

Update (2023-06-23): Stephen Totilo (via Hacker News):

In an appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court, lawyers representing a group of gamers suing to block the deal over antitrust concerns point to a purported internal Microsoft email they describe as “uncontroverted evidence that Microsoft had the intention to put its main competition, the Sony PlayStation, out of the market.”

Update (2023-07-11): Tom Warren (Hacker News):

A California judge is allowing Microsoft to close its acquisition of Activision Blizzard after five days of grueling testimony. Microsoft still faces an ongoing antitrust case by the Federal Trade Commission, but Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley has listened to arguments from both the FTC and Microsoft and decided to deny the regulator’s request for a preliminary injunction.