More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

Summary: After a first tip this week on Microsoft's Jupiter -- a new "application model" for Windows 8 -- I started nosing around to learn more about this mysterious new Microsoft codename. Here's a brain dump of what I learned after talking to a couple of sources of mine.

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After a first tip this week on Microsoft's Jupiter -- a new "application model" for Windows 8 -- I started nosing around to learn more about this mysterious new Microsoft codename.

Here's a brain dump of what I learned after talking to a couple of sources of mine who spoke on the condition of anonymity, but whom I believe are in the know about the project.

Jupiter is going to be a new user interface (UI) library for Windows, built alongside Windows 8. It will be a thin XAML/UI layer on top of Windows application programming interfaces and frameworks for subsystems like graphics, text and input. The idea is Jupiter will bring support for smoother and more fluid animation, rich typography, and new media capabilities to Windows 8 devices. (Not surprisingly, the more fluid UI capabilities also are on the feature set list for Silverlight 5.)

The high-level goal for Jupiter is to help Microsoft revitalize a world where developers write applications tailored for a specific platform. The days of "killer apps" optimized for Windows driving demand for Windows PCs are waning (if not already long gone). Microsoft's hope with Jupiter is to provide Microsoft and third-party developers with a new framework, plus the next versions of Microsoft's various development tools, to build what Microsoft is calling "immersive" applications.

Immersive apps are not meant to be Windows desktop apps. Nor are they necessarily pure Web apps. They are applications that will be built using C#, Visual Basic (and maybe C++). These apps will be developed using the new Windows 8 app model and take advantage of its inherent servicing and packaging technologies and that will be available via the anticipated Windows 8 app store.

Because Jupiter will be built off the same core XAML technology used in Windows Phone and Silverlight, there's a good chance some of the Silverlight code developers already have written will be able to be reused to develop this new class of apps. Does this mean Windows Phone apps will automatically work on Windows 8 and be available from the Windows 8 app store? I don't know but I am doubtful.

One of my contacts described Jupiter this way: "It has to do with XAML + Native Code on slate/iPad-like devices. I think this is Microsoft's approach for putting Windows on the smaller device without the bloat."

For now, Jupiter is supposedly a Windows 8 thing only, but could potentially be adapted to work with older versions of Windows and maybe Windows Embedded operating systems, as well. Jupiter will actually ship as part of Windows 8, I am hearing from my contacts. A subset of Jupiter also will ship as part of a future version of the .Net Framework, according to what my sources said of Microsoft's plans.

Microsoft officials are not commenting on Jupiter. That's not too surprising, as we heard from Microsoft execs at this week's Consumer Electronics Show, they aren't even willing to acknowledge that Windows 8 is what they're calling the next version of Windows....

Any Windows, Windows Phone and/or Silverlight developers out there have any thoughts to add (or questions to ask) about Jupiter? I, for one, am curious whether Jupiter will be part of Windows 8 on both the newly announced SoC ARM/AMD/Intel systems and existing generation of 32/64-bit PCs or not...

Update (January 7): Soma Somasegar, Senior Vice President of Microsoft's Developer Division, responded directly to me on Friday with a comment on this post. He reiterated that Microsoft is not yet ready to talk about the next version of Windows, but did say that "some of the information in this post is not right and out of date, not reflecting Microsoft's current thinking." When I asked for more information about which parts of this information were incorrect, Somasegar declined to comment.

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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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  • Reminds me of Longhorn

    Not that Longhorn was bad, since its the basis for Windows 7. But the strategy sounds like Microsoft is planning revamp areas of Windows like they did with graphics, audio and network stack in Windows Vista. Although this strategy sounds like its at a much higher level. Looking at one of Long Zhengs screenshots I noticed that the kernel version is 6.2, so Microsoft is being very careful not to break any existing investments in Windows 7.
    Mr. Dee
    • Current UI regressions aren't exactly encouraging.

      The usability regressions and stupid gimmicks in Windows 7 (and Vista) vs. XP reveal that Microsoft has lost its way (or possibly its talented designers) since it advanced the state of the art in the '90s. And that goes for its development tools too. Visual Studio was without peer, but now suffers from the same ridiculous defects it did 15 years ago and a whole bunch of new ones. We're talking about glaring design flaws that were inexcusable in Visual C++ version 1.5, let alone Visual Studio 2010.<br><br>Now MS is going to try to spew out another vague all-encompassing platform? If it seemed that this was going to be a lean, mean new UI description language on top of a new, modern OS... well, that'd be great. But there's no way that's what this is going to be.

      Microsoft needs to pare down and do something right (modern and lean) from the ground up, or simply give it up.
      dgurney
      • RE: More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

        @dgurney The glaring flaw is the programmer who is still working in Visual C++ instead of a managed modern programming language/framework.
        Tiggster
      • Stupid gimmicks?

        @dgurney are you saying XP is superior to win7? You obviously have lost your way. Win7 totally eliminates 95% of XP issues. It's so much more stable, the UI is immensely better (imho and that of millions of others who btw bought win7 retail because they wanted it, not because it "came on the PC"). I've been using Vista/now win7 since 2008 w/o any problems and I find the OS to be the best available quick honestly.
        My closest living relative has a Mac and has always been an Apple user and I don't feel OS X even comes close to win7 as an all around superb OS. It's much more niche.
        I use Visual Studio 2005 and 2008 every day and I'm not sure what you are even talking about? Like any generation of Visual Studio, I can knock out solid code in little time that gets the job done and that's all I need. What else is you look for in dev tools?
        xuniL_z
      • RE: More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

        @dgurney
        IF you think that 7 (or for that matter, Vista post SP2) is worse than XP SP3, then you have no credibility. The latter is less secure than than it's successors and the newer UI's are an entirely different league. I've used them all, and 7 > Vista > XP. The only exception to this is if you're running really old hardware. Even if I was running my Athlon 64/X800XL rig (from 2005), I'd choose Vista/7.

        The Search based menu/control panel/explorer is way better than XP.
        notsofast
      • RE: More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

        @dgurney
        Contrary to what others have said I will agree with some of what you have said. The main problems with Win 7 is that it simply cobbles on top of the preceding Windows kernel and UI (despite the re-write of the former). UAC uses existing Win XP control windows nested up to 4 layers deep to change permissions,etc. - ugly and inefficient (vs. say the graphical sudo privilege escalation in Linux).
        Win 7 maybe "more stable" but I was able to "blue screen" it with ease... The underlying model is still multiple layers of legacy support and a kernel that doesn't respond gracefully to error conditions at a privileged execution level...
        I don't prefer Win XP to Win 7 - but neither am I fooled by the puurty aero interface (although like 99% of humans I like the windows snapping and superbar features) - things a still fugly underneath!!
        Bob Wya
      • RE: More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

        @bob wya

        Ah, but Bob... your statement espouses that you went OUT OF YOUR WAY to bluescreen Windows 7. How many people have had that happen WITHOUT trying to do it or without a program that Windows WARNS you has a known issue that will blue-screen it, and before you run it next time, install X update? Not many, I think.
        Lerianis10
      • RE: More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

        @dgurney What glaring flaw. It is apparently glaring to you but not to me. And which VS that is without peer version are you referring too.
        DevGuy_z
      • RE: More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

        @dgurney You are the poster child of past programmers who didn't follow the proper path for modern computing. Usually identifiable by how they fail to follow the code recommendations given by the OS company themselves. A lost child in a sea of calm, lean and mean OSes just like Windows 7 (and Vista). These children fail to see the chaos that beget Windows XP, and refuse to give up control over a dying platform. Sorry to see people like you still exist in today's technology world dgurney. I hope you don't hit your head too hard when you fall off your train to nowhere.
        Narg
      • To all those who say windows 7 is better.....

        When I was using windows 7 I had 3 crashes per week. None of my software worked with the computer. And before you start saying replace your software with new 1, much of the software is not written anymore, there is nothing to take its place. 2, What software is out there to replace the old will cost over $5,000 to replace it so you give me the money. 3, I have had one crash on vista 64 due to java. 4 I have had 3 crashes on xp from 2005 to now due to viruses that were digitally signed and my comodo firewall allowing the program to connect to the internet just because it had a digital signature and make my computer a bot. So is 7 really better I don't think so from my own experiences.
        dougogd@...
      • RE: More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

        @dougogd@ Why would you try to upgrade if you know you are running legacy software? There is no reason to upgrade if you know that the software you are running is that old and cannot be upgraded and it is working. As far as viruses and the other nonsense you mentioned, I am starting to get the feeling that most of your problems are not OS related but rather a short between the keyboard and the chair.
        Cyberpyr8
      • RE: More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

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    • RE: More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

      @Mr. Dee : Longhorn was bad to the bone. Technically Windows 7 was really a "backport" to good ol' C++ COM+ libraries.<br><br>I think that 'Jupiter' (AKA a big planet with many moons) was a project attempting to centralize all UI development using a single core (Silverlight's style of XAML) and let the developer choose between different "moons". <br><br>Each moon would represent a different coding style:<br><br>1) Moon One: Silverlight 5 and C# using CoreCLR . <br>2) Moon Two: WPF2 and .NET Framework 4.5<br>3) Moon Three: Silverlight for Windows Embedded and C++ <br><br>I guess lot of in-fight has spurred inside Microsoft and I think that's the reason they don't want to discuss Windows 8 as different teams have different approaches, and they haven't been able to push the "Jupiter" agenda all along, in favor of a "twinui" selective style.<br><br>That is, all slates will be Jupiter-only (as ARM will not support Win32) and all PC's will be mixed. So their apps store will need to support both models.<br><br>With that said, Windows 8 is a bigger mess than Longhorn and that's the reason called this release "<a href="http://winphone4u.com/?p=287">the riskiest Windows release ever</a>".
      cosuna
    • RE: More on Microsoft 'Jupiter' and what it means for Windows 8

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  • Wow, something actually exciting from dev group

    A thin windowing layer on top of native code. I may just faint.

    Not being sarcastic. It's actually something that's been needed for a long time. Put a XAML windowing/widget kit together with a WTL like native code library would allow for much more exciting desktop applications than Windows Forms / WPF.

    They would definitely be a lot harder to write but the payback in performance on tablet like machines would be more than worth it.
    curph