Goodbye, XP. Hello, Midori

Goodbye, XP. Hello, Midori

Summary: June 30 is the day that Microsoft begins phasing out Windows XP by no longer providing copies of the operating system to PC makers and retailers for preloading on new machines. It's also a good day (thanks to a recent New York Times opinion piece) to start looking ahead to what comes next -- after Windows.


June 30 is the day that Microsoft begins phasing out Windows XP by no longer providing copies of the operating system to PC makers and retailers for preloading on new machines. It's also a good day (thanks to a recent New York Times opinion piece) to start looking ahead to what comes next -- after Windows.

That answer could be Softie Eric Rudder's mysterious "Midori" project.

First, the back story: As San Jose State Professor Randall Stross notes in his Times article, "Windows Could Use a Rush of Fresh Air," Windows has become big and unwieldy. That's why Microsoft has been working for the past several years on reducing dependencies within Windows. And that's what MinWin, the slimmed-down Windows core that Microsoft's Core team has built (which supposedly won't be at the heart of Windows 7) is all about.

Microsoft also has been investigating for the past several years what a non-Windows-based operating system might look like. That project, which recently hit the 1.0 milestone, is code-named "Singularity."

This is how the Singularity team described its mission:

"The Singularity project started in 2003 to re-examine the design decisions and increasingly obvious shortcomings of existing systems and software stacks. These shortcomings include: widespread security vulnerabilities; unexpected interactions among applications; failures caused by errant extensions, plug-ins, and drivers, and a perceived lack of robustness. We believe that many of these problems are attributable to systems that have not evolved far beyond the computer architectures and programming languages of the 1960's and 1970's. The computing environment of that period was very different from today…."

As Microsoft officials have said, Singularity -- a microkernel-based operating system written as managed code -- is for research purposes. Microsoft has no plans to commercialize it.

But what Microsoft hasn't discussed publicly -- which I address in my Microsoft 2.0 book -- is that Microsoft is working on a derivative of Singularity, code-named "Midori," which could end up seeing the light of day somewhere down the line. From Microsoft 2.0:

"There's a seemingly related (related to Singularity) project under development at Microsoft which has been hush-hush. That project, codenamed 'Midori,' is a new Microsoft operating-system platform that supposedly supersedes Windows. Midori is in incubation, which means it is a little closer to market than most Microsoft Research projects, but not yet close enough to be available in any kind of early preview form.

"What's also interesting about Midori is who is running the project. One-time Gates heir-apparent Eric Rudder is heading up the effort. Midori is being incubated under Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie's wing. 'Everyone under him (under Rudder on Midori)  is a multi-year vet, has a super fancy title, and is going back to their roots and writing code like they probably did in the old days,' one Microsoft tipster told me.

"When and how Microsoft will roll out Midori is still a mystery. But it sounds like the company thinks the project is serious enough to dedicate a considerable amount of time/people/resources to it."

I tried asking the Singularity team about Midori earlier this year and got a very nervous looking "no comment" in response.

Anyone out there have any more to share on what Midori is?

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • How great would it be-

    to have a lean, mean system that would do the basics, and leave some of the add-ons to other companies.

    Microsoft has blown any chance of Vista ever getting any respect, as the timing of '7' seems almost a stopgap measure.

    with '7' only being a fixpack to Vista (per Microsoft's explanations) the public will want something substantially different - and hopefuly better. Business will probably accept '7' as long as it doesn't have broken drivers.

    So it would be back to the corporate OS, individual user OS, much like Windows 98 - Windows 2000 - not such a bad place to be, as it would be fewer revisions to support than the many flavors of Vista now.
    • How long...

      How long can it take to create a new kernel?
      • To do it "right"

        • We're talking about Microsoft here remember

          With all the time and money in the world they released Vista, so don't hold your breath, and don't let your memory be too short - all of these new things they're announcing are just vapourware, trying to keep people believing in the company.

          If you thought that they were worth believing in, Vista should put you right.
          • ZZZZZZZzzzzz....nt

          • Yup, that describes their rate of development nicely ;-)

          • I don't notice any announcement of anything being released here

            Mary-Jo is speculating about the possibility of something currently codenamed Midori being part of the future of Windows. Who knows if/when that will happen?
          • Lame story, really.

            This is just more of nothing.
            Maybe this, maybe that.
            I like XP, I have no intention of switching/updating, the cpmuter will die out before I need to upgrade the OS.
          • heh...

            not like the xbox360 is the number one system or anything...

            not like Vista works with the newest programs flawlessly, unlike XP

            not like Microsoft has an insane amount of the market due to good marketing and good products...

            of course not...

            also: we're in America, so it's vaporware. Webster ditched the u's in the British spellings because they were ridiculous. Good day.
        • And what makes you think Midori hasnt' been in the works for years already?

      • kernel isn't the problem

        The kernel isn't the problem: It's pretty minimalistic, with device drivers and other software providing all of the functionality we see today. What is the problem is - well, all of that other software. A lot of stuff was rewritten, but rewritten to be more stable, more flexible, and better support DRM. Unfortunately, that means all of that other stuff is a lot bigger.

        The kernel these days is just a very small part of the OS, with most of the OS being the other various components like the shell and the device drivers.
        • DRM is the problem

          It's about time Microsoft create a kernal that is for integration and let the Movie and Music industry wage their own war against piracy. Microsoft should stop being the software Company that wants to be our guardian against all evil.
        • Registry!

          When talking about problems you can not forget the windows registry. You can bet that a fast slimmed down version of windows will be minus a registry that is anything like what exists now.
    • as the timing of '7' seems almost a stopgap measure.

      I don't think so. This is about as often as they want to ship an OS. It was the long delay in shipping the next OS after XP that is the oddity.

      I think Vista II will show up right on time with a few improvements and people will b****h about that.
    • Ain't NEVER gonna happen...

      [b]How great would it be to have a lean, mean system that would do the basics, and leave some of the add-ons to other companies. [/b]

      The lean, mean part, could be done. The leaving of the add-ons to other companies - ain't NEVER gonna happen.

      You're at the computer store. You're looking at three boxes. One's got OSX. One's got Linux and the third has this Windows 'Lite' Midori on board. You compare features.

      Linux comes with all manner of bells, whistles, doo-dads, gee-gaws and other stuff.

      OSX comes with it's plethora of goodies.

      Midori comes with... Nothing but a few utilities?

      The average computer user will look at the feature list and will NOT like the idea of having to buy this, that and the other thing. Having to buy MS Office is bad enough. They WANT the bells and whistles. They WANT the goodies. They WANT bang for the buck.
    • How great it could be

      if more people could decrease their dependencies. For some
      companies it simply means ditching Office and downloading
      Open Office and installing Linux and/or buying Macs the next
      time, and for a few it must mean open standards and
      multiplatform development.

      It's time to realize that the emperor has no clothes, the
      article is mostly about vaporware.
  • RE: Goodbye, XP. Hello, Midori

    We need more solid alternatives to anything that M$ produce! Linux looks promising, but I feel it is still leagues away from home and business desktops.

    I never heard of this Midori project, but it doesn't surprise me in the least that M$ has a few tricks up its sleeve. Afterall, they want to continue to dominate the OS market. And they love to plaster bloated garbage in their packages and create such a unsound and insecure registry type systems.
    • like he said

      like he said
    • your feelings

      what you think is the feeling about Linux being leagues away from business desktops is probably something like number 1 4/5 trying to get sprayed all over the luxurious toilet for there are already numerous companies using Linux on their desktops. I don't understand your stance of not switching because you're quickly running out of even the feeblest of arguments.

      You really should give it a try.
      • It's obvious

        It's obvious he has not used or seen it in his neck of the woods. I certainly like the modern Ubuntu 8.04 much better than Vista.