Microsoft's Midori: Who's on the all-star roster?

Summary:Microsoft officials have repeatedly refused to talk about Midori, other than to admit it is an incubation project (and with the disclaimer that it may never see the light of day). For a project that may never materialize, Midori seemingly has some heavyweight talent behind it.

It's been a while since anything new about Microsoft's Midori project has leaked. But thanks to a post on the "Codename Windows blog" plus a little poking around, I found an interesting list.

Microsoft officials have repeatedly refused to talk about Midori, other than to admit it is an incubation project (and with the disclaimer that it may never see the light of day). For a project that may never materialize, Midori seemingly has some heavyweight talent behind it.

First, a quick recap: Midori is all about building a new operating system that isn't based on the current Windows kernel. Headed by Senior VIce President of Technical Strategy Eric Rudder, Midori is/was slated to be a distributed, concurrent operating system, according to various tips.

Rob Jellinghaus -- a Principal Architect at Microsoft "working on an unannounced incubation project" -- posted to his blog on September 11a "list of worthy programmers." Jellinghaus doesn't ever state that these folks are working on Midori, but he does note that he is part of a team that "working on a new operating system stack from boot loader all the way to applications. I can’t really say much more, except that what we’re doing is not entirely unrelated to the Singularity operating system." Sure sounds like Midori to me....

Early leaks about Midori indicated Midori had roots in the Singularity microkernel operating system developed by Microsoft Research. Low and behold, a number of the programmers on Jellinghaus' "worthy" list have worked on Singularity, as well as on other distributed operating systems, compilers and other related components. (Jellinghaus himself was "one of the first outside contributers to the Google Web Toolkit. He also worked on the Xanadu hypertext system.)

On Jellinghaus' list:

•Daniel Lehenbauer: Describes his role on the unnamed Microsoft incubation project -- which he calls the "most exciting and revolutionary work to happen in the industry since (Xerox) PARC" -- as involving "the exploration of a radically different approach to the UI/Graphics platform which guarantees security, responsiveness, and leverages modern GPUs and manycore." Software Design Engineer Lehenbauer says the incubation team of which he is a part is "revisiting every layer of the stack from device drivers, through rendering engines, up to application frameworks and programming/computation models."

• Pavel Curtis: Software Architect, who, according to his profile on Wikipedia, "is best known for having founded and managed LambdaMOO, one of the best-known online communities of the 1990s. He created LambdaMOO during his 13-1/2 years as a member of the research staff at Xerox PARC, from 1983 to 1996, where he worked in the areas of programming language design and implementation, programming environments, and online collaboration systems."

• Jonathan Shapiro: One of the chief developers of the BitC language and Coyotos operating system, joined the Midori team this past spring, he acknowledged in a blog post.

• Ravi Pandya:  An "Architect, Technical Strategy Incubation," according to his blog profile. From a 2007 blog post: "I moved from Windows Security to an incubation group which is, as Chris Brumme so eloquently puts it, 'exploring evolution and revolution in operating systems.' I'm having a lot of fun working with a variety of interesting systems technologies, including security, distributed systems, many-core, virtualization, managed systems code, dynamic resource scheduling, asynchronous & adaptive user interfaces, etc." • Dean Tribble: A Principal Architect at Microsoft, Tribble led development of security and compliance features for Microsoft Exchange, and "now is incubating new operating systems technologies."

• Chris Brumme: A Microsoft distinguished engineer who was an architect on the Common Language Runtime (CLR) team. More recently, Brumme "has been one of the architects on an unannounced systems project." • Bjarne Steensgard: Since 2007, has been "part of an incubation team at Microsoft that is an outgrowth of efforts started at Microsoft Research." At Microsoft Research, he worked on the Marmot and Bartok compilers and runtime systems. (Bartok was influential in the development of Singularity, on which Steensgard also worked "since its inception," he said. Bartok also seems to figure into the Midori picture.) Before joining Microsoft, he worked on the Emerald distributed operating system.

•David Tarditi: A former Microsoft researcher who worked on Singularity.

Tanj Bennett: One of the 40-plus Softies running the revamped Microsoft ThinkWeek program. His area of specialization is "OS in the Future." Bennett also seems to have a connection with a Microsoft Research project known as the "Microsoft Solver Foundation," which is described as "a new framework and managed-code runtime for mathematical programming, modeling, and optimization."

• Joe Duffy: The Lead Developer and Architect for Parallel Extensions to .NET. Author of the book Concurrent Programming on Windows

• Leif Kornstaedt: Worked for several years on the CLR as a developer and a senior development lead; now "work(s) in Technical Strategy Incubation." His area of specialization, according to his Web page, is "design and implementation of a programmable middleware." He contributed to Alice, a functional programming language, and Mozart, an implementation of the Oz language.

Midori has been in the works since 2006/2007, based on the bios of some of these individuals. But there's no inkling of when it might emerge from incubation land. As I've reported before, Microsoft is working on a couple of related projects (codenamed "RedHawk" and "MinSafe") that are supposedly pre-cursors to Midori and which could work their way, at least in part, into Windows 8.

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems


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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