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

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 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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  • that's by no means a' who's who' list

    More likely a 'who's he' list.
    These guys are no match for FOSS and Linux in particular.
    Rather than failing to reinvent the wheel, they should just adopt Linux and do themselves a service for doing the right thing.
    Linux Geek
    • Before you make yourself look any more uninformed than you already have ...

      ... you should do some research on what Singularity and Midori are and what they aim to achieve.

      UNIX (inc Linux, BSD, OSX, etc), Windows and all the OS currently in use today are all essentially derivatives of similar approaches to building OS' for largely single-processor machines.

      The industry is already moving to a heterogenous, massively multi-core future where ALL of todays' OS and app platforms will struggle to scale well.

      It would be astonishingly naiive to spout your limited and religiously polarized views on OS design in relation to some genuinely new thinking about how OS will have to change in the coming decades.
      • Agree..

        If the *nix community doesn't pull together to create a completely new OS then they could get left even further behind.
        • Talk about uninformed...

          You wrote: <i>"... left even further behind"</i>

          That sentence might hold true... in a parallel Universe with reversed time flow... ruled by M$ astroturfers...

          But wait...

          this is the zdnet talkbacks, this is a parallel Universe with reversed time flow... and ruled by M$ astroturfers.

          Well, I guess you're right after all, just don't take it outside of the parallel universe that is zdnet or you'll cease to be right.
          The Mentalist
          • So how is Linux ahead?

            The current NT kernel is a more modern design.

            There are more PC's and Servers running Windows.

            Linux is used more in non PC hardware devices but this OS isn't designed for that. I stand by my statement that they will be left even further behind, especially in the areas where Windows is currently designed to run. Do you honestly think that if the *nix community don't get behind a new OS then it will have any hope of competing with Midori on the desktop?
          • How? Two words: Technical Superiority!

            The desktop is the past, hence my mention of time reversal, we're talking about the future here.

            Ah, don't forget flexibility, that's another important attribute of Linux that helps cement its technical superiority, I leave it to you as a bonus. You don't have to thank me.
            The Mentalist
          • The Mentalist sums you up very well!

            Its techinical superiority doesn't seem to be cementing itself very well on the desktop. Maybe a new brand of *nix cement is needed e.g. a new OS
          • Dubious claim

            Linux is, as I have stated many times, a fascinating creation particularly from a technical perspective. HOWEVER, as its desktop penetration numbers have clearly shown, it has thus far failed to make its presence known on the desktops of the majority of PC users.

            Linux has spent the last 17 years first trying to catch up to UNIX and later with Windows and OSX. Because of this, the Linux community is still almost entirely focussed on the technical features of Linux rather than end-user benefits.

            It took a billionire with an axe to grind and a generous disposition to start to turn this tide when he formed Ubuntu, but he still has many years ahead where his generosity will be required until Ubuntu can truly compete with Windows and OSX in terms of end-user features, support, etc.

            Whilst Linux it is indeed a perfectly capable OS for some, it is not (yet) for the many. Until the Linux community stop re-inventing the wheel and start to consolidate efforts, focussing on concentrating their development activities on trying to forge their own future rather than trying to mirror the features of Windows and OSX, Linux doesn't stand a chance on the desktop.

            And by the time they do, they'll be horribly out of date, having been superseded by whatever Apple and Microsoft create to help us take advantage of the massively many-core future we inevitibly face.
          • Market forces rarely favor technical merit. Remember VHS vs Betamax?

            A powerful market force (porn) decided the winner. The same happened on the desktop only the force was different.
            The Mentalist
          • Uh...UNIX, the BEST OS on the planet, cost over 3K (in 1992)!

            Linux, while it took 14 years to complete (the other years were improvements, addons, windows compat., etc.) is FREE.

            Far better to have a FREE UNIX than paying over 5K (today) for UNIX!

            And UNIX is FAR better than Windows (regardless of how may UNIX tech's Microsoft has stolen).
            No More Microsoft Software Ever!
          • Linux ahead

            Unix/Linux were built from the ground up to include networking. Windows has it as an add-on. Even back in the DOS days, DR (Caldera, etc,) came with networking as an installable option as part of the OS. We used it long before Windows came upon the scene.

            The plethora of Windows machines are due to excellent marketing (and some other not so above the board techniques), not excellent design/programming.
          • Windows NT had networking in from the start.

            I can't believe you are comparing Windows NT to DOS. Windows NT 3.1 had networking in as one version was called Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server!
          • You're probably too young to know this, but ...

            Windows was indeed shipped with optional networking features up until Windows NT which included a full TCP/IP and NETBUI networking stack built-in.

            NT 3.5 was shipped a few months after Torvalds published the first source for Linux which, if I remember correctly, didn't include a networking stack.

            the reason why so few OS of the time included built-in networking capabilities back then, was because few people could afford a network and fewer people know what to do with one.

            Windows has indeed been a huge marketing success ... but then Windows' marketing has always been the focus of much derision from the ABM crowd.

            It would be facile (at best) to state that the only reason Windows succeeded above all other OS that have tried to compete with it purely because of marketing and underhanded business techniques:

            When it comes down to it, Windows gave more customers more of what they wanted than any other OS to date has done.

            You may not like that, but this is the reason people have and continue to buy Windows - it gives them what they want.
          • "The plethora of Windows machines are due to excellent marketing"

            NOT! It's due to forcing OEM's to pay for Windows with each computer sold. EVEN IF Windows was NOT installed!

            Hence, the monopoly categorization.

            Microsoft = a predatory, lying, stealing, cheating monopoly.
            No More Microsoft Software Ever!
          • @de-void Yes finally got p2p with 3.11(WFW) & NT

            (Greetings again)
            but that was when they were trying foist NetBuei/Netbios but luckily the Net/Web started to become of interest/popular & TCP/IP became the standard. circa '93~'95
            But even before and during there was Novell, Lantastic, Banyan, etc for DOS/Windows and the other OS's that had networking built in Concurrent Dos/DRDOS, Apple, Next, OS/2 any Unix and even Linux.

            MS was not the first.

            BTW the Source for Linux was released on to the Net in September '91.
            SLS (considered the first distro) October '92.
            Slackware soon followed (oldest surviving distro)
            The first NT 3.1 came out July '93, 3.5 in Sept '94

            And it was Slick/questionable tactics caused Windows to Dominate
            OEM agreements: no DOS without Windows, other DOS's warning screen, not allowing other OS's or bootloaders, etc, etc
          • @LazLong -

            "But even before and during there was Novell, Lantastic, Banyan" ... all of which were proprietary, fiercely marketed NOS' and all of which were available for DOS too ... they weren't UNIX features.

            "MS was not the first" I didn't say they were. I said that they weren't the last.

            Re Linux: Yes, the source for Linux was first released in '91. But that was a miniscule Linux back then. Was barely functional, worked on almost nothing. Was as buggy as a brand-new OS hacked together (using Minix to do so) by a part-time new OS engineer would be.

            And, no ... Windows isn't where it is today just because of <insert your favorite reason for MS' dominance here> ... that's just the ABM'er in you fighting to make itself heard.

            Windows is where it is today because it offers users what they want. It's been YEARS since PCs were allowed to be sold without DOS/Windows and even when they did, retailers could still sell PC's with different OS' so long as they paid their DOS license (this was the deal Microsoft struck for their work on getting the PC to work in the first place).
          • What do you mean 'non PC hardware devices'?

            Linux is used primarily in PC hardware. Including servers (internet servers specifically).

            It is also used in other devices.

            Please post links to your opinion, otherwise it reads like Microsoft FUD.
            No More Microsoft Software Ever!
          • I think your wrong on that...

            its just an assumption, but I'm pretty sure
            there are more copies of linux running in
            devices than there are on "PCs". I know I own
            more devices with linux than I own copies of
            windows. The only linux I run is in a virtual
            machine for niche tasks. Two routers, game consoles (don't remember which ones run linux),
            a watch and a few toys. At least four different
            devices running linux. And most people wouldn't
            even know, I'm into it and I don't remember
            which ones run linux.
            "non PC hardware devices" is pretty obvious as
            the PC is pretty much defined by the x86 architecture.
            But stating that linux has had tremendous
            success in devices is in no way "Microsoft FUD"
            whether it's true or not.
            "Please post links to your opinion"
            I see that you did not, but I'll refrain from
            offering implied insults here.
            The hate reeeaaaally bugs me.
      • you are confused

        unlike windoze, Linux had multiprocessor capability for years.
        Now M$ is trying to copy Linux and they don't even have a release date for it.
        Linux Geek
        • Windows NT...

          had multi-processor support from the beginning. What are they trying to copy?