Microsoft's super secret non-Windows OS project lives!

Microsoft launched two new operating systems in late October; Windows 8 for Intel and AMD processors and Windows RT for ARM-based chips. Windows Phone 8 will be in the hands of the public on Friday. However, the company is still the middle of working on a new OS that is not based on the Windows kernel. The project hasn't exactly been given a huge marketing push in Times Square.

ZDNet.com reports that the project is called Midori and it's actually been quietly in the works for a number of years. However, there's been no word about its current status for some time. That changed with a presentation at the OOPSLA 2012 conference in October and a research paper called "Uniqueness and Reference Immutability for Safe Parallelism."

In part, the paper states:

Our type system models a prototype extension to C# that is in active use by a Microsoft team. We describe their experiences building large systems with this extension.... A source-level variant of this system, as an extension to C#, is in use by a large project at Microsoft, as their primary programming language.

Again, Microsoft has yet to shine a huge light on "Midori" but since it's been in in the works for several years now, it's likely that we will hear something about this non-Windows OS in the near future.

Source: ZDNet.com
Secret image via Shutterstock

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41 Comments

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I'm pretty sure MS and other tech giants are working on stuff that'll see the light of day in 2030 or even later :shrug:

FMH said,
What does this mean for Microsoft and operating systems?

It means that they have been heavily investing in new a new operating system architecture that would leverage the advancements made with verified managed code, parallel and distributed computing.

This paradigm shift will change how we have to deal with computer security and will likely be the next major revolution in operating systems. The guys working on this are hard core developers that invested an insane amount of time rethinking the OS from the ground up.

Can't wait to see the bits.

FMH said,
What does this mean for Microsoft and operating systems?

It means that they have been heavily investing in new a new operating system architecture that would leverage the advancements made with verified managed code, parallel and distributed computing.

This paradigm shift will change how we have to deal with computer security and will likely be the next major revolution in operating systems. The guys working on this are hard core developers that invested an insane amount of time rethinking the OS from the ground up.

Can't wait to see the bits.

TheCyberKnight said,

It means that they have been heavily investing in new a new operating system architecture that would leverage the advancements made with verified managed code, parallel and distributed computing.

This paradigm shift will change how we have to deal with computer security and will likely be the next major revolution in operating systems. The guys working on this are hard core developers that invested an insane amount of time rethinking the OS from the ground up.

Can't wait to see the bits.

So, could this be the basis of Windows 9?

Almost certainly not.

Windows NT, the basis of Windows NT 3.1 through to Windows 8 is a mature platform that's gone through an unbelievable amount of development and testing to get to where it is today. Even with improved engineering techniques there's no way they could catch up to that quickly - and why would they when NT does everything so well already. Indeed they just finished consolidating on NT with Windows RT and Windows Phone 8, phasing out their other OS core, Windows CE. Building a new OS from the ground up to rival Windows would be a really, really hard thing to do.

What's more likely is that they'll take stuff they learn from prototyping this new OS and use it to inform future development of NT where they may well transpose functional and architectural changes. It's also quite possible that it may find deployment in some new specialist scenario that NT is not a good fit for.

It's not impossible that it or something like it will replace NT eventually, indeed NT was originally built for a research project called N-Ten. However if it does it will be a gradual process over many release cycles as the legacy cases that need NT are killed off. Chances are they'd be co-existing for a long time.

Edited by singularity87, Nov 9 2012, 12:43am :

singularity87 said,
Almost certainly not.

Windows NT, the basis of Windows NT 3.1 through to Windows 8 is a mature platform that's gone through an unbelievable amount of development and testing to get to where it is today. Even with improved engineering techniques there's no way they could catch up to that quickly - and why would they when NT does everything so well already. Indeed they just finished consolidating on NT with Windows RT and Windows Phone 8, phasing out their other OS core, Windows CE. Building a new OS from the ground up to rival Windows would be a really, really hard thing to do.

What's more likely is that they'll take stuff they learn from prototyping this new OS and use it to inform future development of NT where they may well transpose functional and architectural changes. It's also quite possible that it may find deployment in some new specialist scenario that NT is not a good fit for.

It's not impossible that it or something like it will replace NT eventually, indeed NT was originally built for a research project called N-Ten. However if it does it will be a gradual process over many release cycles as the legacy cases that need NT are killed off. Chances are they'd be co-existing for a long time.

I agree This Midori OS research could end in a near future in the NT 7.0 Kernel. The most secure and powerful version of Windows ever seen.

I do sincerely doubt that the work in this research paper about an extension to the C# programming language that improves writing multi-threaded code can be called an operating system

Edited by ~Johnny, Nov 8 2012, 5:46pm :

rahvii said,
Spoiler: is going to be called Windows

Sure about that? I'd agree.

Microsoft's next Windows 8 update is supposedly called "Blue". Midori is the japanese word for "Green"

Will this be a business and serious PC user-centric OS that runs legacy applications that Windows-8 is not? Abandoning a huge portion of one's customer base is not a good business strategy. Remember, consumers are fickle and will abandon a vendor as soon as something "newer and flashier" comes along.

1) Midori already exists, it is a part of the foundation of Windows 8's new frameworks.

2) This paper is talking about an updated variation of .NET technology and using it as a full application model that would RUN ON TOP OF NT as a virtual OS subsystem. (Just like Win32 is a virtual OS subsystem.)

3) This has to do with F# and work from the project to build not only a new subsystem kernel model (that sits on NT) but a new set of frameworks designed around these newer parallel and Async concepts for far better inherent multi-CPU performance.

4) Neowin Needs a technical editor that understands technology and doesn't just take what an idiot at CNet says and run with it.

(Does anyone NOT remember Mary Jo and others talking about MinWin, and continuing to talk about it, even after people from the NT kernel team explained it was NOT a new OS.)

Midori was a new OS kernel model built from .NET concepts. This is another variation that goes further than a managed kernel to a managed kernel that is designed for getting more performance out of multi-core/CPU which is also why F# was designed.

NT isn't going anywhere, nor does it need to implement this next progression of technology. (People truly do not understand how extensible NT is, and how it could host a new OS kernel model on top of itself, but it can.)

1) You're thinking about MDIL and RedHawk. That's not Midori. Midori is the fully managed OS.

4) Mary-Jo Foley is not an idiot. Yes, Neowin needs someone who actually knows stuff instead of paraphrasing it, but MJF is not some random journalist.

Idiot

Saying that somebody is an idiot invalidates the whole post with arrogance. Next time just state your view and wait for intellectual debate on that.

Nothing much to add. Right now whatever Midori is it's ambiguous at best: "No word on it's current status" can be anything from it's already implemented, still on production, or halted.

Spoiler: Windows 9 is in development OMG!!! BREAKING NEWS!!!!11

I really think you're confusing stuff.

Midori does not exist anywhere yet and F# has nothing to do with this.
Also, Mary Joe is not an idiot. Far from it.

Its interesting to see a company has many strategies in case something didn't work out very well. nevertheless as for Microsoft the future is definitely bright also for google. I am not sure about Apple though.

S3P€hR said,
Its interesting to see a company has many strategies in case something didn't work out very well.

It's safe to say most large companies, including Apple, have such strategies... Remember the switch to Intel? They executed one of those alternative strategies back then.

S3P€hR said,
Its interesting to see a company has many strategies in case something didn't work out very well. nevertheless as for Microsoft the future is definitely bright also for google. I am not sure about Apple though.

Every company at this scale has long-term strategies.

What people seem quick to forget is that many businesses last decades upon decades, often well over a hundred years, through countless market shifts, dips, twists and turns.

The self-styled tech enthusiast of today, however, seems to think that companies launch, are relevant for a time, lose relevance after a time, and then should GO AWAY FOREVER GOD DON'T YOU REALIZE YOU'RE IRRELEVANT NOW (Scott Adams, you've become one of these tools: http://www.dilbert.com/strips/2012-11-06).

Where this can actually happen is when a company names itself after its product (think MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, 99% of web start-ups, etc). These companies are all too often doomed to acquisition and have no long-term viability.

But your IBMs and HPs, P&Gs and so on...these companies stick around because they're more than just one of their product lines. More than just consumer-facing. This is why the obsession of tech enthusiasts with the consumer is damning and wrongheaded. It doesn't reflect the real heartbeat of business, where loving the consumer is just good PR, not an actual business model.

Right and the growing pains was kept to a minimum with the switch to Intel. Funny how the haters have to get that "dig" in on anything.

.Neo said,

It's safe to say most large companies, including Apple, have such strategies... Remember the switch to Intel? They executed one of those alternative strategies back then.

Tyler R. said,
It'll probably replace windows someday. Can't wait for more info to leak!

There's replace, and there's replace. This is Microsoft, so even if it 'replaces' Windows, it will still end up being called Windows.

IIRC this has a small team who's been working on doing a full OS off of managed code. It might have been... 2 years ago? They showed it booting to the command line, because it had no GUI at the time. And when I say small team I mean like 5-10 people only. It's really a research type project and not something MS is looking to go to market with, though if it works and works well it could be used to replace the aging Windows CE for embedded and custom devices in the future.

GP007 said,
IIRC this has a small team who's been working on doing a full OS off of managed code. It might have been... 2 years ago? They showed it booting to the command line, because it had no GUI at the time. And when I say small team I mean like 5-10 people only. It's really a research type project and not something MS is looking to go to market with, though if it works and works well it could be used to replace the aging Windows CE for embedded and custom devices in the future.

I thought they wanted to, (down the line,) make Midori the consumer version of Singularity or something like that...

GP007 said,
IIRC this has a small team who's been working on doing a full OS off of managed code. It might have been... 2 years ago? They showed it booting to the command line, because it had no GUI at the time. And when I say small team I mean like 5-10 people only. It's really a research type project and not something MS is looking to go to market with, though if it works and works well it could be used to replace the aging Windows CE for embedded and custom devices in the future.

You're thinking about Singularity (or maybe Barrelfish?).
That was an open research project, the source code is available.

Officially, Midori doesn't even exist.

GP007 said,
IIRC this has a small team who's been working on doing a full OS off of managed code. It might have been... 2 years ago? They showed it booting to the command line, because it had no GUI at the time. And when I say small team I mean like 5-10 people only. It's really a research type project and not something MS is looking to go to market with, though if it works and works well it could be used to replace the aging Windows CE for embedded and custom devices in the future.

I've been following this a bit ever since finding Singularity when it was still being worked on. Midori is somewhat a restart of Singularity. Singularity being a research project to attempt to rewrite an OS to today's standards (considering all major OS's have their base more then 20 years ago). Its kernel structure was renewing, somewhat based of NT. But instead of just being modular, each kernel component ran in a virtual environment. Being able to reboot the entire system without an old fashion power-off reboot. To a point that it is virtually impossible to bring down the kernel to a crash.
Also security was redesigned, some of which seems to've found its way back into NT.
Also seems that some more flowed back into NT with Windows 8.

NeoPogo said,
Why not continue work on Courier! Courier was awesome in concept.

Yes it was. I would have bought one over the Windows 8 Tablet to be honest.

NeoPogo said,
Why not continue work on Courier! Courier was awesome in concept.

wasn't sinofsky the one who axed that project?
sad really, i'd have bought it for work.

NeoPogo said,
Why not continue work on Courier! Courier was awesome in concept.

Because we have Courier new....

(just kidding)

Lead Wirst said,

Not really WOW, MS has a number of OS's under research or development. Here is one call Singularity http://research.microsoft.com/.../pubs/default.aspx?id=52716. Wiki entry for Midori mentions this might be the commercialization of Singularity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midori_%28operating_system%29


In all fairness, Midori is based on Singularity. Midori's modular kernel structure is based on it.
Some of Midori's research ends up in NT btw. There's some in Windows 8