On the road to Midori: RedHawk, MinSafe and Sapphire

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


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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  • Finally...

    So finally, Microsoft is embedding the .net framework into windows.. of course I totally agree, I mean I wanted that (http://www.amreldib.com/2007/12/windows-7-what-it-rumored-to-have-and.html) to happen.
    The managed code concept will really put the OS in charge of running all the applications and their security and other issues that are the problems with Windows.

    Freeing themselves from the backward compatibility, I think that this is just a concept the developers are following while developing the base product. But Microsoft is not dump to ignore its own customers, Vista's biggest problem was the backward compatibility. I think that Microsoft is going to imped some kind of virtualization layer that ensure the backward compatibility with windows applications. Of course that will result in some issues for some applications that won't work on the new OS, but the total benefits are going to be worth it.

    Finally, Microsoft is doing the right thing..
    • Don't believe a word of it

      think WinFS and understand that this is Microsoft, a company that will say anything and lie, cheat and steal just as long as it is making noise to keep itself in the public's perception.

      It'll be awful, just as Vista et all.

      It won't work, it'll be pre-Alpha quality on release, and will be replaced when it finally becomes stable(ish) many years down the road.

      There's enough history to know this is true, and all the while Linux is just getting better, and gaining momentum.

      Shareholders aren't the be all and end all of life. Nor are computers that just work, but they sure beat computers that don't work just to feed the greedy, recycle old money and stifle progress.

      MS is dying. Tick tock, tick tock.
  • RE: On the road to Midori: RedHawk, MinSafe and Sapphire

    Microsoft is keeping so quiet on Windows 7 that the community has got really impatient now and started spreading FUD.
  • Time to give Win32 a rest

    Managed code is the way to go
    • Yes lets...

      Yes, lets get rid of Win16, Win32 and so on...

      AND along with that all those millions of applications that we use today!!! Imagine the roar of people complaining then?!?!

  • Left hand... What is the right hand doing?

    Hate to say it but MS is suffering the same issue many large companies suffer, specifically being too compartmental and not knowing what the other departments are doing.

    Anyone that has done dev work for MS Office knows this all too well. The Office developers and the Visual Studio team (think VSTO) rarely talk to each other and do not like doing so. If you force them to sit them in a room together and start talking about issues both will instanly point the finger at the other.
  • Not sure I'm reading this right....

    RedHawk and Minisafe are replacements to the CLR with no requirement for backwards compatibility with the current .Net architecture?

    It wouldn't be a surprise but I'm ready to watch folk justify their codebases being dumped again.
  • Code Word Pornography

    There is some level of code word exhaustion at this level of
    discourse. A little while ago the announcement of the "under
    promise/over deliver" initiative effectively defeated it's
    purpose. In the same way, this parade of code words makes
    Microsoft look like a self congratulation factory. People are
    interested in product not promises. Particularly from a
    company that has a record of coming up short in the promise
    fulfillment department.
    Harry Bardal
    • the intent of code words

      i think you make an excellent point. people want a good end result, not loads of hype leading up to a not-so-great end result. while it's kinda cool to hear about these kinds of possibilities, they're so far off (if they ever see the light of day) that i'm not inclined to put a whole lot of weight on them.

      more delivering, less promising, please!
      • Who is creating the hype?

        The MEDIA is creating the hype... not Microsoft.

        Microsoft is not speaking about this stuff... its the MEDIA that is to blame here. NOT Microsoft.
      • others need to follow this as well...

        "more delivering, less promising, please! "

        The perfect answer to the Linux developers constant statements of "it will be fixed eventually", or how about KDE4 begin release before it was anything but crapware with promises that it's going to be great.

        MS isn't the only group that over promises, everyone wants theirs to be best liked.
  • Well, it's like Java . . .

    "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."

    Well, it's like Java: The CLR is a virtual machine, not a real compiled application. Sure, there's JIT compiling, but even that's not as fast as a fully compiled application. It's basically no different from Java as far as performance goes.
    • Differences

      Amount of memory used. Much higher in Java.

      I saw a link where they were comparing language performance for a variety of tasks and I think they used a bunch of benchmark code. It turns out that there wasn't a huge difference in performance overall but Java consistently used much more memory than almost anything else including .net and I'm not talking 20% but more like 5x to 10x. And for certain applications this had an affect. It certainly makes load times longer.

      Direct access to hardware (in one sense).
      There is a performance issue if you have to use things like Swing or other libraries because you don't have direct access to windows api's. But if you are just crunching then there's not much difference.

      'Course there's Java VM with Java (mostly) and there's .NET clr with C++, C#, VB, Perl, Eiffel, COBOL, Fortran, F#, D, Ruby, Python, J#, Ada, scheme, etc. etc.

      And like java (I think) you can NGen which eliminates the JITting. And .net is never interpreted, it is always compiled.
  • Addition produces strange results

    Midori + Sapphire = Misfire (to fail to achieve the desired result, effect, etc.)
  • this news is pure FUD !

    this news is pure FUD !
  • Midori, typical Microsoft cant even invent a name...

    Not a company to waste brain cycles on being intelligent,
    innovative or clever, they hijack another name that belongs
    to something, or someone else. Names like Google and
    Yahoo are catchy and stand out in a consumer's mind,
    whereas names like windows, vista, excel, midori are
    already associated with other parts of everyday life.

    Microsoft is so hard up for original ideas that they cant
    even invent a name by themselves, much less create an
    original technically sound product or service. The lack of
    useful brain cycles at a company 90,000 "strong" (if thats
    what you want to call it) speaks for itself. Ballmer, Gates
    and the rest of them are about lamest bunch of do-
    nothings the tech industry has...
    • wow...

      you actually hate them so much that you're insulting what they chose to call projects. That is so sad. And yet funny, you have nothing better in your life than hatred of MS - because they were successful in achieving an over-whelming market share as a business. Believe it or not people sometimes like to be paid to work, especially when they turn out something that supports much more than other OSes.
  • RE: On the road to Midori: RedHawk, MinSafe and Sapphire

    midori= green in Japanese, also a liquor.
  • RE: On the road to Midori: RedHawk, MinSafe and Sapphire

    Yeah, because Apple, Operating System 10, and finder are totally original names on their own rights.

    I don't think I've ever seen a post on here that was more biased and full of bull than YOUR post. I'm not going to argue that Microsoft is an all over wonderful company, they screw up a lot and...they resulting bashes against them for it are justified, All you're doing are hate mongering, and that's never good.
  • The road to somewhere else is well-paved also.

    We'll just see if Microsoft can follow its every-other trend of successful OS releases. i'm keeping my OEM of XP Pro for any new computer i buy between now and the next Windows. i have no interest in Vista. If the next one isn't better, i'll be looking at Linux for a transition to full 64-bit computing.