Windows Phone 'Apollo' to use "core system" from Windows 8

According to new information that was posted to 4pda.ru, Windows Phone “Apollo” will bring platform parity with Windows 8. We must stress that this new information has not been confirmed but does align to previously rumored information.

If you are asking what platform parity means, according to the source, this means that the phones OS is now based on the NT kernel where as it was previously based on the Windows CE kernel. The key here is that Windows Phone Apollo will use the same core system from Windows 8 which means that it is a minimal Windows system that boots, manages the hardware/resources, authentication and can be managed at a basic level.

The source also states that all desktop binary images must be signed with a trusted Microsoft certificate;

WOA platforms will require that all desktop binary images be signed with a trusted Microsoft certificate. Any unsigned code will fail to load ... This ... does not cover Metro Style applications for which there is a separately documented signing requirement and developer licensing

The final major change is the adoption of the ESENT platform, as stated below:

The final significant changes of note are the adoption of ESENT, also known as Jet, for the database engine, and the managed-code runtime. Rather than using the .NET Compact Framework from Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone ”Apollo” uses the Core CLR produced by the Developer Division at Microsoft."

All of these changes will help to bring the Windows Phone platform closer to that of the desktop experience. While no indication has been leaked about when the new update will be released, it shows the direction that the platform is heading.

The individual who posted the information also created another topic with the entire document according to another source, but that topic was quickly deleted as the individual feared it could track back to him.

Thanks to Roman for the tip!

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Recall that Windows Phone 7.5 had *just* introduced a database engine, in the form of SQL Server CE. So why would Microsoft ditch SQL Server CE for JET Blue (ESENT)? That's going *backwards* in terms of database technology.

Recall also that Windows Phone 7.5 abstracts all database operations through LINQ. Microsoft has had a LINQ-to-SQL provider for several years now. SQL Server CE was designed to use the same SQL dialect as its big brother, SQL Server, so Windows Phone was able to just reuse the existing LINQ-to-SQL provider.

In contrast, there is no LINQ provider for JET. Moving to the NT kernel would already be a lot of work -- so why would Microsoft create more work for itself, and swap out the database engine too?

Beyond that, there are also differences in terms of data storage. The SQL Server products support a lot more datatypes natively than the JET engines do. This could be a compatibility nightmare for code written for Windows Phone 7.5.

I just have a hard time believing this.

I just hope all the great technology in Windows CE isn't killed off. Windows CE is a great OS as a lightweight highly portable platform.

xpclient said,
I just hope all the great technology in Windows CE isn't killed off. Windows CE is a great OS as a lightweight highly portable platform.

We're talking about kernels here, which isn't really the same thing. What functionality are you speaking of?

Yes the magic of Windows is HAL. I bet someone at Microsoft writes a HAL for almost every CPU Arch out there.

ShiZZa said,
Yes the magic of Windows is HAL. I bet someone at Microsoft writes a HAL for almost every CPU Arch out there.

hmm, I wonder if Apple has an app for that?

new information

Not sure why people still dance around this a bit... Microsoft has stated it, they have pulled Cutler into group, and it has been on the books since NT was scheduled to replace WinCE back in 1998 at some point when hardware could handle a heavier OS.

Even if it doesn't happen for a year, it will happen...

WinCE is a great fast and light kernel model that borrows from NT, but it is locked many ways from an extensibility standpoint compared to NT, and NT today since MinWin can be broken down to essential layers horizontially and vertically unlike any other OS, and is the original technology that makes WinCE so portable with a general simplistic architecture HAL for compatibilty, easy translation, and high performance on various architectures.

(Linux and other OSes are 'portable' but they are not designed to be agnostically high performance when ported without a lot of changes to the base kernel in how everything from memory and registers and bits are handled. And without these rewrites, Linux is cumbersome, and slow and uses generic driver and modified separate HALs to even run, that are far from 'fast'.)

NT is going to move more into what WinCE has done well, but is no longer needed. NT can replace WinCE on WP7 now, and with the .NET/Silverlight and XNA DirectX interface, it wouldn't look any different to users, all Apps would still run just as they do now, and it would gain better multi-core scheduling and other technologies from NT inherently that would allow the platform to offer less 'sandboxed' features and rely back on the NT security model that WinCE doesn't offer.

NT will replace WinCE in a lot of devices as hardware parity catches up to handle it, and we are there now with Android needing more RAM and CPU than Windows 7 on the desktop already, and still runs slower than a full Windows 7 install compared to an Android x86 install.

So this isn't 'news' or a surprise.


Also the XBox factor, there has been one voice from the XBox team that continually says the XBox is not Windows 2000 or NT based, but they are either really stupid or didn't have as much to do with the XBox as they purport. As the XBox and XBox 360 very much are NT kernels running a non-Win32 subsystem. (Maybe the non Win32 subsystem is what confuses them and others, as they don't realize NT doesn't require Win32.)

thenetavenger said,
Also the XBox factor, there has been one voice from the XBox team that continually says the XBox is not Windows 2000 or NT based, but they are either really stupid or didn't have as much to do with the XBox as they purport. As the XBox and XBox 360 very much are NT kernels running a non-Win32 subsystem. (Maybe the non Win32 subsystem is what confuses them and others, as they don't realize NT doesn't require Win32.)

Although the NT kernel was modified (read: DRM hardened) for the Xbox devices, the Xbox OS and dashboards were NOT built atop the Win32/NT/2000 codebase. The entire UI and DRM were built atop the underlying NT kernel -- an exercise which took until WinVista to fully flesh out into the commercial Windows space.

thenetavenger said,
Also the XBox factor, there has been one voice from the XBox team that continually says the XBox is not Windows 2000 or NT based, but they are either really stupid or didn't have as much to do with the XBox as they purport. As the XBox and XBox 360 very much are NT kernels running a non-Win32 subsystem. (Maybe the non Win32 subsystem is what confuses them and others, as they don't realize NT doesn't require Win32.)

Do you have any source for that?
I've never managed to find an official statement that says whether the XBox OS is built on top of NT or not.

Aethec said,

Do you have any source for that?
I've never managed to find an official statement that says whether the XBox OS is built on top of NT or not.

As a matter of fact, Microsoft sources have stated that the XBox OS is ***NOT*** built on top of NT. Instead, it is a partial reimplementation of some of the NT APIs. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/xboxte...hive/2006/02/17/534421.aspx

But this is just a rumor that refuses to die.

Owen W said,
This was known since forever ago, not sure why it's only hitting the news now.

This.
Gotta love all this "but it's just a rumor" talk - it's not a rumor, it's the truth. Some people need to read more stuff about MS Research.

MorganX said,
Hopefully this will result in a halfway decent Facebook app???? ;>

Probably not. It'll still be using Silverlight, and it'll still be on the ARM CPU's. I'd wager just some enthusiastic developers that actually care about that Facebook app would help it more, and not just some paid lackey at a consultancy company who's just filling in some check boxes and collecting his pay cheque.

Its not clear to me what the repercussions are. Does this create fragmentation? Does imply that WP7 devices will not be upgradable to WP8?

Will existing apps still work? Am I going to have to repurchase all of my apps all over again like I did going from WM6 to WP7? I have hundreds of dollars worth of xbox live apps and certainly don't want them to disappear.

The third party apps and games are written either in Silverlight or XNA - which are both generally platform agnostic frameworks. So as long as their base framework is ported, all the apps will continue working fine (and considering Silverlight and XNA already work perfectly fine on NT, there's not likely to be a problem.)

So all exisiting apps would work, and Windows Phone 7 devices would likely be upgradeable (as the NT kernel does work on ARM CPU's at this point).

I don't see why Microsoft would bother putting in this much work to do that though, but I suppose with porting the NT kernel to ARM during Windows 8's developement, they probably don't see the need to continue using WinCE.

shamburg said,
Its not clear to me what the repercussions are. Does this create fragmentation? Does imply that WP7 devices will not be upgradable to WP8?

Will existing apps still work? Am I going to have to repurchase all of my apps all over again like I did going from WM6 to WP7? I have hundreds of dollars worth of xbox live apps and certainly don't want them to disappear.

Why wouldn't current WP7 devices be upgradable? Your phone's data is backed up when you update. This is why you have to be connected to your computer and not OTA.

All apps are coded in Silverlight and XNA. As long as WP8 supports those (it will) then there will be no issue with app compatibility. I would suspect this is a big reason why they didn't want to allow native code on the device.

pack34 said,

Why wouldn't current WP7 devices be upgradable? Your phone's data is backed up when you update. This is why you have to be connected to your computer and not OTA.

All apps are coded in Silverlight and XNA. As long as WP8 supports those (it will) then there will be no issue with app compatibility. I would suspect this is a big reason why they didn't want to allow native code on the device.

That's good. If they didnt allow upgrades and app compatability, it would be considered a huge failure.

shamburg said,
Its not clear to me what the repercussions are. Does this create fragmentation? Does imply that WP7 devices will not be upgradable to WP8?

Will existing apps still work? Am I going to have to repurchase all of my apps all over again like I did going from WM6 to WP7? I have hundreds of dollars worth of xbox live apps and certainly don't want them to disappear.


Woah there. They're talking about replacing the kernel. It will have nearly zero effect on the user experience or apps. The advantages will be better multi-threading, memory management etc. They're not going to change the app model, because they already did that with WP7. WP8 is basically the last step of a process of replacing WinMo completely. WP7 currently runs a modified version of the WinMo 6.5 kernel, aka Windows CE.

~Johnny said,
The third party apps and games are written either in Silverlight or XNA - which are both generally platform agnostic frameworks. So as long as their base framework is ported, all the apps will continue working fine (and considering Silverlight and XNA already work perfectly fine on NT, there's not likely to be a problem.)

I read this as: the Windows Runtime debuting with Windows 8 will be used on Apollo as well.

This has huge implications as it opens up the platform to more developers than C# or VB.net.

bdsams said,
What I want to know is if existing phones can get the upgrade or will it be new devices only.

This is Windows Phone not Android.

pack34 said,
This is Windows Phone not Android.

Just like you cannot install IE9 on a Win98 OS, there's no certainty that you can upgrade you device from WP7.x to WP8 should the underlying kernal and hardware architecture change.

So... not such a silly question.

~Johnny said,

I don't see why Microsoft would bother putting in this much work to do that though, but I suppose with porting the NT kernel to ARM during Windows 8's developement, they probably don't see the need to continue using WinCE.

They'll continue CE as NT is not a real-time kernel, whereas CE falls into that category…

So what will this do to benefit the OS in a nutshell? Is it just development opportunities mostly? I assume this is why they leveraged Silverlight heavily to start.

BoyBoppins said,
So what will this do to benefit the OS in a nutshell? Is it just development opportunities mostly? I assume this is why they leveraged Silverlight heavily to start.

I think this would mainly benefit Microsoft. Removes duplicated work across the windows phone and big windows divisions if they share the same core. Then the phone team can focus their attention elsewhere. If MS's job becomes easier it may mean more and better updates.

Big win for Devs...Microsoft showed off at one point that to code apps for Windows 8 and to code them for Windows Phone is something like one or two lines of code difference ( i beleive)...they would need this type of implementation to make that happen.

bdsams said,
Big win for Devs...Microsoft showed off at one point that to code apps for Windows 8 and to code them for Windows Phone is something like one or two lines of code difference ( i beleive)...they would need this type of implementation to make that happen.

They don't need this kind of implementation - seeing as they showed that as a live working demo It was a basic demo of course, but the code they showed can be done with the current tools on both platforms. The WinRT / XAML framework is pretty much the same as Silverlight in most areas anyway, most things transfer fairly smoothly between the two, ignoring the new controls and OS hooks.

Edited by ~Johnny, Jan 24 2012, 8:38pm :

bdsams said,
Big win for Devs...Microsoft showed off at one point that to code apps for Windows 8 and to code them for Windows Phone is something like one or two lines of code difference ( i beleive)...they would need this type of implementation to make that happen.

That's cool and all, but it's also not what they showed. What they showed was the ability to release an XBox Arcade game on the phone and for the XBox with only changing a few lines of code. Windows 8 at the time was not yet being shown off.

M_Lyons10 said,
Windows 8 at the time was not yet being shown off.
At the most recent BUILD conference (September; not CES), they did show off making a Metro application with Silverlight that only required two lines of XAML and maybe a flag or two to change to run on WP7. As XAML is not even really code, it was pretty impressive.

However, I strongly doubt that moving to the NT kernel would really effect Silverlight, or the .NET applications for that matter (that's the point of them after all: to abstract the stuff that might change away from them so that it's up to Microsoft to fix before you even see an issue). What it effects is the need for Windows developers to recreate desired functionality in two separate kernels: CE and NT. Now, the Windows team can add features to the kernel, and the Windows Phone team can add features to the kernel that everyone benefits from, including PC and tablet users.

It reduces workload and it simplifies future development across Microsoft, and that's a win for the entire Windows platform as a whole. This is almost certainly on their schedule simply based on the fact that Microsoft is pushing ARM into Windows 8. I would not be surprised if much of that work came from Windows Phone experience, and now the entire ecosystem will benefit.

Beyond that, sharing their code base only makes sense. Suddenly, drivers can share the same APIs rather than changing from PC to tablet to phone. Apple got it slightly right with the tablet and phone sharing, and Microsoft is obviously doing a similar merge with the PC and tablet in Windows 8. Now, they are simply going to the next logical step with the phone included.

On a lower level, I imagine that some code will have to be rewritten, but I suspect that we will see an improved process (executable/thread) scheduler, memory manager, and driver model on the phone as a result. Considering how well WP runs on a single core running on top of Windows CE, I have high hopes for it under the updated NT kernel.

This is why writing on top of .NET is so big, and I would not be surprised if that was why they blocked native code so strictly before on Windows Phone. If these rumors pan out, then it would prevent anyone except those that wrote native apps from having to rewrite anything. It would all just work, and it would probably be faster without any effort too.

This is the dream that Apple wants to approach with iOS and Mac OS X. iOS apparently already shares much of the same kernel, but they clearly work independently, as they work to slowly bring in some of the iOS features back into OS X.

bdsams said,
Big win for Devs...Microsoft showed off at one point that to code apps for Windows 8 and to code them for Windows Phone is something like one or two lines of code difference ( i beleive)...they would need this type of implementation to make that happen.

That demo was showing porting of an already existing WP7 Silverlight app, not revealing anything about a future WP8.

Of course how easy it is or isn't to port depends on the app as well.

etempest said,
Isn't the windows core kernel less then 15mb (even for windows) but everything's built on top of it?

MinWin, aka NT + core APIs, is 25 MB AFAIK.
I don't know how much the NT kernel itself weighs, however.

Aethec said,

MinWin, aka NT + core APIs, is 25 MB AFAIK.
I don't know how much the NT kernel itself weighs, however.

I think you're right. Either way, a first-gen WP7 has 16GB onboard storage... so 25MB for MinWin is a good use of space.

greenwizard88 said,
Desktop Binary Images? What are they... will this allow me to run all of my old school Windows games on my WP8 (if they're signed)?

No. Desktop games are x86 and Windows Phone as of right now is purely ARM. The advantage this has is that in theory, every Windows 8 app will have a version that runs on Windows Phone 8 (as Windows 8 apps are required to support the docked view, which is perfect for smartphones).

The information came from an individual who has been around since 2005 and also posted another topic with the entire document but quickly deleted the post.

bdsams said,
The information came from an individual who has been around since 2005 and also posted another topic with the entire document but quickly deleted the post.

I don't want to be mean but read what you are writing, you are seriously using the guys account age on a forum to add credibility to what he says?

Do you even know who this guy is? And where is the document that he deleted did you at-least see it yourself?

Go check on Twitter, there was a long conversation about this post and how it's worded much like standard MS documentation, the guy who tipped us beleives it to be accurate. You sitting in your computer chair throwing out it is not, does not cover that fact that i sat on this for about 30 minutes trying to decide if it was posted by a crediable individual.

Yes it plausable? Yes. Does it align with previously leaked information about MS plans for WP? Yes.

Two differenint individuals posted that the information was crediable enough to make this post. It's not a shot in the wind, it leans towards credability and the verbage is bang on MS documentation.

bdsams said,
Go check on Twitter, there was a long conversation about this post and how it's worded much like standard MS documentation, the guy who tipped us beleives it to be accurate. You sitting in your computer chair throwing out it is not, does not cover that fact that i sat on this for about 30 minutes trying to decide if it was posted by a crediable individual.

Yes it plausable? Yes. Does it align with previously leaked information about MS plans for WP? Yes.

Two differenint individuals posted that the information was crediable enough to make this post. It's not a shot in the wind, it leans towards credability and the verbage is bang on MS documentation.

You do realise that because people know what Microsoft documents look like it makes them easier to fake accurately right?

Also two people speaking on Twitter about it hardly adds any credibility. Me and you are two people talking about it on here, what's the difference?

And even if it is likely to be true or not I just think this is the kind of thing that is wrong with journalism online people don't take bloggers serious enough because any blurry image of a new product or small rumor is posted without real fact checking. You've basically gone around a social networking site looking for people discussing it as confirmation.

I can understand that your hungry for scoops as all people who write for technology news sites are but I really think it could have been presented better. Your article name is "Windows Phone 'Apollo' to use "core system" from Windows 8" not "Rumor: Windows Phone 'Apollo' to use "core system" from Windows 8" which is all this is, a rumor.

bdsams said,
Becuase I trust the people on Twitter who have leaked information in the past, you have not done such things.

So because two people who have been right in the past say they think the document is similar to Microsoft documents that confirms the rumor? All they've confirmed is the document looks like a Microsoft one, they have not verified its content as true or false.

Well I guess it is time to spell it out for you since you can not seem to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Rumor 1: http://news.softpedia.com/news...to-a-Single-OS-221551.shtml

read that, entirely, not jus the title. See the information, looks a bit like what I posted above no?

Wow, that's an odd rumor, I know, I know!

Here is some great additional reading about the same topic, adds more information to the mix: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/...1-and-tango2-and-more/57900


But then, MS comes out and says that it will only be two lines of code to go from Windows 8 to Windows Phone ( http://windows7themes.net/wind...o-windows-phone-7-apps.html)

Golly jeepers, that all sounds similair to the documentation above, then you link that the NDA surrounding this information was the one posted above but was quickly removed...it kind of makes sense and appears legitamtie.

Then you add in two people, who have posted up MS information confirm that this is good informaiton, and I ran with it.

There is nothing far fetched about the post, it has been rumored for ages and ages...I know you want a smoking gun becasue that's what everyone demainds...unfortunetly, you will have to put the pices together in your head to fully understand the concept.

You can email me at b d sa ms at Neowin to talk further.

Additionally, other Microsoft based writers are picking the story up too as they feel it is credible...imagine that!

I don't see the problem with this news piece, all I'd say is that it could maybe have a "Rumour" tag slapped on it but that's fine by me.

bdsams said,
Well I guess it is time to spell it out for you since you can not seem to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Rumor 1: http://news.softpedia.com/news...to-a-Single-OS-221551.shtml

read that, entirely, not jus the title. See the information, looks a bit like what I posted above no?

Wow, that's an odd rumor, I know, I know!

Here is some great additional reading about the same topic, adds more information to the mix: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/...1-and-tango2-and-more/57900


But then, MS comes out and says that it will only be two lines of code to go from Windows 8 to Windows Phone ( http://windows7themes.net/wind...o-windows-phone-7-apps.html)

Golly jeepers, that all sounds similair to the documentation above, then you link that the NDA surrounding this information was the one posted above but was quickly removed...it kind of makes sense and appears legitamtie.

Then you add in two people, who have posted up MS information confirm that this is good informaiton, and I ran with it.

There is nothing far fetched about the post, it has been rumored for ages and ages...I know you want a smoking gun becasue that's what everyone demainds...unfortunetly, you will have to put the pices together in your head to fully understand the concept.

You can email me at b d sa ms at Neowin to talk further.

Seriously being this snippy doesn't make you come across as a professional, just someone with a chip on their shoulder. If your posts can't hold up to even basic scrutiny like why is this source reputable then you need to get out of the news business as this is important to the credibility of what you write.

All you gave me to start with was the guys post history on a site I've never heard of and that he posted a document you've not even seen which no longer even exists on the site.

Then you say some guys on Twitter who you trust say the document seems like it could be from Microsoft but they are unable to confirm the claims within the document.

Finally you go with a Softpedia article to back up your claims but within the first line of the article after the Intro it clearly says: "Rumor has it that the upcoming Windows Phone 8, codenamed 'Apollo', and Windows 8 platforms would actually converge"

See that bit where it says Rumor? -- This forum post today that you've linked too doesn't really offer any extra information.

Don't get mad at me for questioning your sources bro.

Kushan said,
I don't see the problem with this news piece, all I'd say is that it could maybe have a "Rumour" tag slapped on it but that's fine by me.

I agree rumor tag needed until this is verified as fact.

Vice said,

I agree rumor tag needed until this is verified as fact.

I agree that it is rumor, but its not far fetched. Your acting like its the end of the world that he posted this up. Im happy this guy posted this, regardless of whatever bitching you have for him.

Vice said,

Seriously being this snippy doesn't make you come across as a professional, just someone with a chip on their shoulder.


Vice, I hope you realize you're at Neowin - Where unprofessional journalism looks better.

Yup, if he didn't say it like it was, then he's at fault. Unfortunately, you're basically ripping up this site. If you don't like it, then go find another digital playground.

Neowin is the least crappy of all online journals (next to Ars, although they're corporate sell-outs)... if they don't have attitude, then I have no reason to trust their judgement.

Moral of this reply: leave the dude alone... and if you're so awesome, why don't you become a staff writer, eh?!

Vice said,

Seriously being this snippy doesn't make you come across as a professional, just someone with a chip on their shoulder. If your posts can't hold up to even basic scrutiny like why is this source reputable then you need to get out of the news business as this is important to the credibility of what you write.

All you gave me to start with was the guys post history on a site I've never heard of and that he posted a document you've not even seen which no longer even exists on the site.

Then you say some guys on Twitter who you trust say the document seems like it could be from Microsoft but they are unable to confirm the claims within the document.

Finally you go with a Softpedia article to back up your claims but within the first line of the article after the Intro it clearly says: "Rumor has it that the upcoming Windows Phone 8, codenamed 'Apollo', and Windows 8 platforms would actually converge"

See that bit where it says Rumor? -- This forum post today that you've linked too doesn't really offer any extra information.

Don't get mad at me for questioning your sources bro.

Relax guys, it is just about software...........

Sadly we started a war on even less reliable information.........