On the road to Midori: RedHawk, MinSafe and Sapphire

Summary:The road to "Midori" is paved with lots of other Microsoft codenames, according to tipsters who've been coming out of the woodwork since I made public my latest couple of posts on Midori, Microsoft's next-gen operating system.

The road to "Midori" is paved with lots of other Microsoft codenames, according to tipsters who've been coming out of the woodwork since I made public my latest couple of posts on Midori, Microsoft's next-gen operating system.

Before Microsoft delivers a brand new operating system -- be it distributed, object-oriented and/or microkernel-based -- the company is planning to deliver some new components that will pave the way for Midori. Two of these elements are code-named "Redhawk" and "MinSafe," according to a few tips I've received recently.

Here is my understanding of what's in the works:

Redhawk and MinSafe are two sides of the same coin. Redhawk is the codename for new managed code work being done by the Developer Division, while MinSafe is the codename for the complementary managed code initiative on the Windows side of the house.

Both projects are aimed at providing a new managed-code execution environment that will be more lightweight and (Microsoft hopes) more appealing to developers who are put off by the perceived overhead of the current Common Language Runtime (CLR) at the heart of the .Net Framework.

Redhawk deliverables may include a new back-end compiler and new runtime that would still provide type safety and garbage collection, but perhaps not the rest of the functionality that is currently part of the current .Net CLR.

The Redhawk and MinSafe teams are not restricting themselves to insuring compatibility with Windows or the .Net Framework. (That jibes with tips I've gotten about Midori being a "built from scratch" non-Windows-based operating system that won't necessarily preserve backward compatibility with Windows.) And the Redhawk/MinSafe are dabbling with how to deliver a new object framework on top of User Mode Driver Framework (UMDF), as well as a new base class library (BCL).

I am hearing that some of the Redhawk/MinSafe deliverables (specifically around the driver model)  could be incorporated into Windows 8 -- which, if the Windows client team stays on its current schedule, could be expected debut around 2011/2012.

I've got lots of questions based on these bits and pieces, but Microsoft is not ready to talk about Midori, Redhawk or MinSafe, a corporate spokesperson reiterated when I asked.

I'm also curious how/if Microsoft's work to provide a native (as opposed to managed) implementation of Microsoft's Web services platform that Microsoft seemingly is readying as part of Windows 7 fits in here. The AeroXP guys recently described this platform -- which Microsoft is planning to detail at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in late October -- as "WinFX minus .Net." I've heard this unmanaged services platform described by yet another codename: "Sapphire."

Keep those codename tips and educated guesses coming. Meanwhile, based on these nw clues, any observations about what the Redmondians might have up their sleeves for Windows' successor?

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Software Development, Windows

About

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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