Microsoft's ServiceOS: A potential piece of Microsoft's cloud play, post-Windows 8

Summary:Last summer, Microsoft researchers were describing their ServiceOS project as a "multi-principal OS-based browser" designed to provide control of web applications and devices. This year, the description of ServiceOS has evolved

I've been tracking for a few years now the Microsoft Research project known as MashupOS, then Gazelle, and most recently ServiceOS.

Last summer, Microsoft researchers were describing ServiceOS as a "multi-principal OS-based browser" designed to provide control of web applications and devices.

This year, the description of ServiceOS has evolved. Charon at -- who tipped me recently to Microsoft Research's Drawbridge library OS initiative, sent me a link to a new abstract explaining ServiceOS that lead researcher Helen Wang posted for the recent TechFest 2011 research fair.

(ServiceOS wasn't one of the TechFest 2011 natural-user-interface-focused projects that Microsoft touted publicly this year. I guess it was featured during the part of the TechFest fair that wasn't open to selected press and analysts.)

The changes in how the Softies are explaining ServiceOS are pretty significant. The new abstract specifies that ServiceOS supports thesoftware-as-a-serive (SaaS) paradigm. Via ServiceOS, a "master copy of a user's applications resides in the cloud and cached on her end devices," the new abstract explained.

"The ServiceOS project aims to address many challenges faced by our Windows Phone platform, post Windows 8 platform, the browser platform, and Office platform," the abstract said.

At TechFest 2011, according to the abstract, the researchers demonstrated a MinWin-based ServiceOS prototype. They showed how traditional applications, like Microsoft Word, can run on ServiceOS and how rich Web content, like a YouTube video, can be embedded "without sacrificing security."

As with all Microsoft Research projects, there is no guarantee as to if or when they will become -- in part or in total -- incorporated into Microsoft's commercial product line-up. However, Wang seems to have a pretty solid record, in terms of her technology-transfer success rate. I'll be watching to see how ServiceOS morphs next....

Topics: Microsoft, Cloud, Enterprise Software, Innovation


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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