Hints in the code of Microsoft's .NET Framework have led some to draw a surprising conclusion: Microsoft may be developing a new OS, based on its "Midori" tech demonstrator, that is a radical departure from its OS history. Long derided for being complacent about planning for the future of computing tech, it seems that MS really does have action plans in place.
SD Times has gathered some opinions around the few facts we know so far. Midori is a product of Microsoft Research's Singularity project, designed to produce an Internet-centric OS that works with "distributed concurrent systems" (think multicore technology in the latest chips, with 4, 6 or even 8 tiny CPUs in one chip package.) According to one of the publication's contributors, Larry O'Brien, the Midori code is an "attempt to create a new foundation for the operating system" that's different in that it looks like MS is prepared to "break with compatibility" with previous OS attempts, or "at least wall off compatibility to a virtual machine."
Is this a new OS that breaks with the successful but mind-bogglingly slow progression of Windows? Or will it, too, pile incremental improvements (better code, improved security, UI changes and so on) on top of a roughly unchanged code "heart" beating inside? MS looks like it's winding Midori into its cloud-based .NET system, meaning it may be an off-PC OS that never really dwells on your hard drive, instead coming over the wire from the cloud. This would be a new thing for users, and it would let MS keep tighter control over how the OS worked, as it would all "live" on MS hard drives in MS servers. It would also position MS in a better place to combat cloud-OS efforts from competitors like Amazon and Google. But it's not obvious how MS would sell this new radically clever system to users, who are all conditioned to thinking of MS products in the style that they've always worked. So instead Midori may be intended to be used only in special locations, such as in data center computers, where its parallel processing skills would work very well.
The one thing we do think we know is that Midori is definitely aimed at parallelized code writing—which makes it much more future proof than an OS like Windows. Expect to hear that word "Midori" bandied about more as time passes.
Image via Picasa user Sotti
To keep up with this news and more like it, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter. That QR code on the left will take you to my Twitter feed too.