The MinWin Meme
A few months back, conventional wisdom said that Microsoft had big plans afoot
for the next version of the Windows client after Vista, known currently as Windows
Much of that expectation arose not from whisper releases or leaks out of the
Redmond campus, but rather from an innocuous
technical presentation given by Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Eric Traut
at the University of Illinois. (You can view the portion touching on Windows
7 at the I
Started Something blog.)
In the presentation, Traut spent a few minutes demoing Windows 7 to the audience
and referred to the MinWin kernel, the bare-bones, stripped-down, core OS code
base that industry watchers think may end up driving a new generation of Windows
development. At points, Traut seemed to imply that MinWin is to be the core
of Windows 7 itself and that it's an internal project not for public release.
In short, he seemed to contradict himself.
"We created what we call MinWin. This is an internal only -- you won't
see us productizing this, but you can imagine this being used as the basis for
products in the future," Traut said, before launching a new window on screen.
"This is the Windows 7 source code base. It's about 25 megs on disk. Compare
that to the about 4 gigs on disk that the full Windows Vista takes up."
That's all it took. Bloggers and Microsoft watchers speculated that Windows
7 would feature a radically streamlined core. The implication was that the next
OS waypoint would be a sharp departure from the legacy established by Windows
The thing is, Traut never said -- or intended to say -- anything of the sort.
The kernel project known as MinWin, which does seem designed to undo Vista's
vast and lumbering code base, won't
be in Windows 7. The next client OS out of Microsoft, we've recently learned,
will be very much based on a refined Vista core, albeit with enhanced mobile
support and aggressive integration with Microsoft's Windows Live online services.
But Traut's presentation and the misdirected meme it launched are a telling
preview of what's to come in the arena of Windows and Windows Live development.
Mary Jo Foley reported in our May 15 issue, Windows is being developed under
strict radio silence. And that means an army of bloggers, reporters and pundits
will be watching every cough and twitch out of Redmond in an effort to glean
where the company is going next. And I think we can expect a lot of false alarms
as a result.
What do you think of Microsoft's decision to lock down information about Windows
and Live development? E-mail me at [email protected].
Posted by Michael Desmond on 05/29/2008