Microkernel expert Shapiro to join Microsoft Midori effort

Summary:Jonathan Shapiro, one of the chief developers of the BitC language and Coyotos operating system, is joining Microsoft to work on Midori.

Jonathan Shapiro, one of the chief developers of the BitC language and Coyotos operating system, is joining Microsoft to work on Midori.

Shapiro announced via the BitC mailing list that he will be joining Microsoft in August in a "fairly senior position."

Coyotos, like Midori, is a microkernel-based operating system. If and when it makes it out of incurbation, Midori is expected to take the form of a distributed, object-oriented operating system which ultimately may supplant Windows. Microsoft officials repeatedly have refused to comment on Midori's timetable or goals, but Microsoft Senior Vice President of Technical Strategy Eric Rudder is said to be heading up the project.

Coyotos and BitC are intertwined projects. According to Wikipedia, BitC is a language being developed by researchers connected with the Johns Hopkins University and The EROS Group, LLC, as part of the Coyotos project. BitC's goal, according to Wikipedia is two-fold:

"(t)o merge the advances of modern programming languages; sound type systems with abstraction, sound and complete type inference, let-polymorphism, and mathematically grounded semantics — with the requirements of systems programming; first-class treatment of state, support for prescriptive low-level representation, explicitly unboxed types, and performance comparable to C.

"Eventually, to support formal program verification of low-level systems programs, such as kernels/microkernels."

The specification for the first released version of BitC and its compiler were "converging rapidly into its final form," according to Wikipedia. Shapiro said on the BitC mailing list that he is "trying hard to get all of the planned features for the initial release completed before I depart." He acknowledged, however,"that may not turn out to be possible," and said he was seeking someone to take over as a more active steward of the project.

Coyotos, for its part, is seen as a successor to the EROS operating system. "Since mid-2006 the Coyotos developers have been working with the developers of GNU Hurd to make Coyotos a suitable microkernel for GNU Hurd," according to the Wikipedia entry, but "progress is slow."

(GNU Hurd is GNU Project's intended replacement for the Unix kernel.)

Topics: Operating Systems, Collaboration, Microsoft, Open Source, Software, Software Development

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Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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