Microsoft's Plans For A New OS

Everyone's read something or other about the next version of Windows that will replace Vista, usually referred to as Windows 7. But it's all still Windows. David Worthington, over at SDTimes, says he's gotten a look at internal Microsoft documents that outline their development plan for Midori, a non-Windows Operating System. Microsoft understands that Windows is essentially a pre-Web product, and sees that the Google-led march toward virtualization and Software as a Service will eventually make Microsoft the black-and-white television of the Internet. Midori, built from the ground up as a non-Windows OS, would make them as big a king of the Internet as they were of the desktop.

The Midori documents indicate that the proposed OS would have a non-blocking object-oriented framework API. This would have strong notions of immutability—in the sense of objects that cannot be modified once created—and strive to foster application correctness through deep verifiability by using .NET programming languages.

At the presentation layer, Microsoft is making a clean break from the existing Windows GUI model, where applications must update their display on one and only one thread at a time, and the associated problems that affect OS stability and make it more difficult to write multithreaded applications.

The Midori documents indicate that the company has not decided what user interface abstractions are appropriate when applications cut across boundaries, or how to combine the best qualities of rich client applications and Web applications.

“A lot of these problems are being solved, at least partially, by the ideas of store-and-forward and message synchronization,”
[Forrester Research senior analyst]Hammond noted. “Google Gears, Adobe AIR, even the mobile OSes with things like SMS can handle occasional connectivity. Why shouldn’t this be built into core OS communication protocols, especially if they are asynchronous by default?” he asked.

Bill Gates was always a stickler for backwards compatability, but Bill Gates is gone. As proposed, Midori would achieve backwards compatibility with Windows products through virtualization. Until Microsoft stops achieving backwards compatibility by starting out each iteration of the Windows OS with a pile of their old code, the size of the OS is always going to grow, so it appears they're on the right track here. If you sift through all the complaints about Vista, it really only boils down to two problems: the program's too big to run on old machines, and lots of old drivers were left in the lurch when big chunks of the OS were changed without Microsoft's usual fetish for backwards compatibility. Midori, as proposed, would fix that, and allow the OS to be made from scratch without "breaking the Internet." It would also be the end of the heyday of loading all sorts of software onto your desktop machine, too. Good riddance.