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October 19, 2007 1:05 PM

Windows' elegant new core, coming in 2010

Posted by Brier Dudley

Eric Traut, a Microsoft distinguished engineer, showed off the company's new crown jewels at the University of Illinois last week.

Computerworld has the story and a link to a video of Traut's presentation here.

Traut gave the first public presentation on a new kernel called MinWin that will be the basis of the next generation of Windows, debuting in 2010. He's part of a team of 200 working on reducing the kernel.

From the story:

Traut showed off MinWin and bragged about how much leaner the microkernel is than the current core of Windows. While Vista uses 5,000 files for its 4GB core, MinWin weighs in at just 100 files and 25MB.

So instead of plastering new stuff onto the bloated kernel, Microsoft took a fresh approach and produced a tiny core that will presumably be more efficient and flexible.

The article talks about how MinWin seems tailored for virtualization, but it also sounds like it would better position Microsoft to compete with open-source software mobile devices, starter PCs and consumer electronics.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it must be a morale boost for the whole Windows engineering team to know that the foundation they're building on is finally getting sorted out.

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Posted by John

2:23 PM, Oct 19, 2007

Microsoft spent five years to produce Vista, the most underwhelming product of the decade. Considering the (at least) 5,000 person-years that went into it, and "You wonder where the money went" becomes the understatement of the century.

Now it's going to spend another three years on the _next_ version of Windows? Is this a joke?

Let's say it slips only one year, so it'll be out in 2011, with an average of only 500 bodies a year working on it. All those FTEs for all that time produces... what?

On one hand, they're the victims of their own success. I don't need another UI paradigm for my desktop or my office applications -- I'm very satisfied with how they are now.

OTOH, if they have the microkernel now, why do they need to put it in the oven for 4 years? And how important is the size of the core anyway, given memory trends? Even in embedded devices - and they have a slimmed-down Windows for those now, anyway.

To me this seems to be the negative inverse reciprocal of a morale boost. And a puzzler. What am I missing?

Posted by Brier

11:40 AM, Oct 22, 2007

Hi John, I was thinking about the mindset of engineers who like things orderly and precise.

The guts of Windows are a jumble - Jim Allchin said a big reason Vista was delayed was because of interdependencies in the code.

Fresh start seems to be a theme over there. I think it's interesting to see how that manifests itself in the new products.

Posted by John

9:14 AM, Oct 23, 2007

Looking at it strictly from an engineer's mindset, I agree. But by the time this NaI Windows gets out, think of how far the rest of the computing universe will have moved.

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