Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

Summary: Dave Cutler, the father of Windows NT, is now working on helping Microsoft evolve Xbox beyond a game-centric console.

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Four years ago, Microsoft assembled a team, many with killer Windows pedigrees, to build Microsoft's public-cloud operating system, Windows Azure (codenamed "Red Dog.") On the all-star roster were folks like Dave Cutler, the father of Windows NT, and Hoi Vo, an expert in hypervisor development, among others.

A while back I got a tip that Cutler wasn't doing a whole lot on the Azure front any more, since the core platform was basically "done." He was still at Microsoft, and currently reporting directly to CEO Steve Ballmer. But word was he had moved onto new challenges.

Earlier this month, one of my tipsters filled in a related piece of this puzzle. Vo quietly had moved from the Azure team, where he was Director of the OS/hypervisor, to the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) side of the company. Yes, Vo's LinkedIn bio doesn't mention his new job, but according to my tipster he is now working in ISS Console Development research and development.

(ISS is the Interactive Entertainment Business Software and Services group headed by Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Treadwell. The group's charter is to develop and deliver "connected entertainment experiences for consumers.")

(I asked Microsoft officials for comment on Vo's move and was told "Microsoft doesn’t discuss internal movement to this degree." I also emailed Vo and received no answer back.)

So what about Cutler? He's earned the right to do basically whatever he wants at Microsoft. And word is that "whatever" has something to do with the future of Xbox.

I asked Microsoft for comment and got this statement from a spokesperson:

"Dave is one of our brightest minds and is currently working on projects that will help advance our goals in the consumer space as we continue to grow the Xbox from a game-centric console to a complete home entertainment device."

The spokesperson declined to provide any further details or say when Cutler left the Azure team. (I'm thinking it happened some time after March 2011, when his last boss, Amitabh Srivasta, left Microsoft.)

One of my contacts said to think about Cutler's new role as focusing on moving Xbox beyond a gaming platform. Does that simply mean he'll be helping Microsoft do what it's already on the path to do: To make Xbox more and more of a TV and/or settop-box replacement? Or is it something bigger, like helping Xbox also become a home videoconferencing/telepresence hub -- or maybe even a whole home-automation system? (Remember, Microsoft has a HomeOS research project exploring these kinds of scenarios.)

One thing to remember is the current Xbox operating system is loosely built on NT, and Cutler knows a thing or two about that operating system...

Any guesses (educated or otherwise) as to what Cutler is doing specifically in the Xbox space?

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems

About

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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  • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

    Personally I think it's ridiculous that I have two computers under my TV set--an HTPC running Windows 7 with Media Center, and an Xbox 360. If the Xbox 720 / Xbox 3 can take on the functions of my HTPC that'd be sweet. It would need to: 1) have support for Ethernet or USB based TV tuners (proprietary is fine but it needs CableCARD or something better) and DVR functionality, 2) have Blu-Ray, and 3) share media (photos, videos, recorded TV) over the network. It might be a ludicrous idea but if the DVR functionality ran on an isolated CPU/motherboard so that recording a TV show didn't slow down a game, but it all still ran in the same box and kept cool, that'd be sweet.
    jon@...
    • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

      @jon@... i guarantee that the next xbox WILL NOT have blu ray seeing as how its a SONY product.
      KatRider05
      • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

        @KatRider05 blueray is for losers HD-DVD was the better format. But never fear Microsoft's upcoming streaming technology will put an end to blueray.
        Stephen-B
        • What good is it anyway?

          You watch movies, while the NSA logs into your Kinect and watches you in 3D?

          http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/12/tech/web/microsoft-nsa-snooping
          T1Oracle
      • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

        @Stephen-B,
        Dude, quit drinking the Kool-Aide.
        bmonsterman
      • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

        @KatRider05
        That doesn't mean MS wouldn't license the tech from Sony. VAIO's all run MS Windows... so there is a relationship there.
        kstap
    • Cutler was the father of VMS too

      @jon@... A lot of NT ideas were "borrowed/based on" the sane principles of VMS. He is the only person to have had a chance to develop two operating systems, both of which were highly successful. I would not call working on XBox the highlight of his career
      GoForTheBest
      • BTW, he never liked Unix

        Though Unix was also developed on DEC machines, Dave Cutler never liked anything Unix. VMS and Windows NT (unto 2000) show a very clear and precise OS that could easily beat the pants of any equivalent Unix machine. Windows XP onwards is a different story of a fox slowly becoming an elephant. Anyway, that is what MS did with Foxpro too, they took a fox and made an elephant out of it.
        GoForTheBest
      • Go back before VMS

        Dave Cutler worked on DEC's RSX11M real time OS before that. RSX HAD to fit into 64KB of memory (and the data into another 64KB). Dave would rewrite entire sections of programmers code in order to save a dozen bytes. Anything beyond that became an overlay or in today's terms a disk hit.
        wingnut1024
    • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

      @jon@...
      Same here. I built the htpc for blu rays and streaming comcast and 360 for games. To my surprise I got into pc games and use 360 for a lot of streaming. Now 360 will soon allow comcast streaming with more to come. Just swapped the primary use of the two.
      Anti Fanboy
    • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

      @jon@... I agree one box not two. FYI I come from the media entertainment side and have no interest in gaming. It is time to upgrade to a full-fledged video processing machine. To me, the DVR needs to have a green low power state that can be awakened quickly. I see all sorts of potential in Win8 but I've found Win7 Media Center to be promising as well and I've heard that MS more or less completed work on Media Center in Win 7. All interesting clues. I am going to wait for the smoke to clear before I run out and get a i5 or i7 Win7MC.
      erlewis@...
  • yawn...

    wake me up when he starts working on Linux or android!
    The Linux Geek
    • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

      @The Linux Geek
      What linus torvalds not enough for you?
      Viper589
    • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

      @The Linux Geek

      Sir, I am not judging... but your comments are really of bad taste... earn a bit of respect by having a constructive criticism... or else get help.
      owlnet
    • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

      @The Linux Geek I suggest you stick to reading the Linux articles
      Imrhien
    • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

      @The Linux Geek

      Cutler isn't qualified to work on Linux... he hasn't murdered anyone. Can you say, "puts the lotion in the basket?"
      jackbond
      • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

        @jackbond

        ?
        OffsideInVancouver
      • RE: Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox

        @jackbond
        LOL... good one!
        kstap
  • Cutler or no, whatever MSs non gaming plans for xbox are they will fail if

    they require an external box. Very few will buy a separte unit for an additional cost if the tv they just bought has an alternate solution integrated into it (ala google tv). They need to get onboard in the chasis with the tv oems and integrated into the tvs menu command structure. I mean really, cmon now, how hard is it once youve connected the tv to the home network, ethernet or wireless, to search out for MCE on there and be an extender for it? Get the oems to put in a couple web cams and a mic, and give them kinect, bing, skype, xbox live, and W8 metro app capability. Seriously they could own this if they made an more than half an effort. Save the separate console idea for the few who want high end gaming. Even there it probably only has one more iteration left. I mean look what smartphone gaming is doing to psp's and ds's. SmartTV gaming will be doing that to console gaming after the next round of consoles anyway. Better for MS to get out in front of it. I facepalm just thinking about their lack of progress in this space the last 5-8 years. I mean whos driving this thing, Captain Schettino?
    Johnny Vegas
    • The problem with Google's ...

      @Johnny Vegas,

      ... TV approach, is that you get a lack of consistent user experience. Therefore when people go from one TV to the next in their houses, many of them are going to pull their hair out. The set top approach allows you to bring essentially the same user experience to a cross section of TVs.

      What I hope MS does, is create several reference designs for the new Xbox, so that manufactures can bring out models having various configurations. Also incorporating Windows Home Server, and the HomeOS concept (which allows you to control devices throughout your home from the Xbox and other devices) into some of these devices, would be great.
      P. Douglas