RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

Summary: Rumor alert: Might the coming Windows Phone 8 operating system have even more in common with Windows 8, architecturally, than the OS kernel itself?

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As the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012 conference quickly approaches, rumors about the next version of Windows Phone are starting to fly fast and furious.

One rumor I've heard from a couple places now is that Microsoft may start talking publicly about "Apollo," a k a the Windows Phone 8 operating system, at the show, which kicks off at the end of February. (Will the Softies talk "Tango," too? I haven't heard.)

As Microsoft rumor patrollers may recall, there's been lots of talk and speculation -- informed and less so -- that the next version of the Windows Phone OS will swap out the current core (Windows Embedded Compact) for some variant of Windows. The most believable/likely version of this rumor has Embedded Compact being swapped out for MinWin, the detangled Windows corel. Microsoft has neither confirmed nor denied this.

On January 24, new Apollo-related information appeared in a Russian forum -- which I discovered via tweets from @AngelWZR -- about Apollo.

To be clear, this is all still in rumor category. I don't know the author of the info, the source of this info, or the accuracy rate of information in these particular forums. But the English translation of one post there made it sound as if there is some kind of Apollo documentation circulating out there which corroborates the Windows Phone kernel-swapping rumors that surfaced last year.

Here's the part of the post in question:

"Windows Phone 'Apollo' brings together platform parity with Windows 8, experience parity with Windows Phone 'Mango', and a set of new features and functionality developed for Windows Phone 'Apollo'.

"Platform parity means that the phone OS is now based on the Windows NT kernel instead of the Windows CE kernel. Windows Phone 'Apollo' uses the Core System from Windows 8, which is a minimal Windows system that boots, manages its hardware and resources, authenticates and communicates on a network, and can be managed at a basic level....

"The final significant changes of note are the adoption of ESENT, also known as Jet, for the database engine, and the managed-code runtime. Rather than using the .NET Compact Framework from Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 'Apollo' uses the Core CLR produced by the Developer Division at Microsoft."

My translation of the translation:

  • Windows Phone 8 will look and feel a lot like Windows Phone 7.5 Mango and include some new unnamed features.
  • The "core system from Windows 8" mentioned in the posting definitely sounds like MinWin to me. (And remember, there have been a lot of MinWin sightings in Windows 8, and MinWin was part of Windows 7, as well.)
  • ESENT (the Extensible Storage Engine) is a variant of what often is called the "Jet Blue" database engine. ESENT is the database engine for Active Directory and many Microsoft Windows components.
  • And the Core CLR referenced here? Sure sounds like this has to do with Microsoft codename 'Redhawk,' if you ask me.

Redhawk, my codename tipsters have said, is a new managed-code execution environment that would be more lightweight and more appealing to developers who have been put off by the perceived overhead of the current Common Language Runtime (CLR) at the heart of the .Net Framework. (Also remember: there have been sightings of RH and RHP in leaked Windows 8 builds.)

Yes, I know I am reaching. But it's sounding more and more to me that the game plan for Windows Phone 8 is to align with Windows 8 -- not just in terms of a common design language and interface (Metro), the same HTML5 Internet Explorer browser and integration with Windows Live and Azure -- but also in terms of a common core.

Other guesses here? Will there also be a common programming environment and dev tools shared by Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 by the time all this rumored convergence comes to pass? And what will these changes mean to current Windows Phone developers who've already built Windows Phone apps?

Update: A couple of the folks with whom I chat on Twitter think the "core CLR" reference in the Russian forum post has to do with the Core CLR that Microsoft introduced at Mix in 2007. It well could -- and could have broader implications as to the relationship between Windows Phone 8 OS and WinRT, the new Windows 8 runtime. As I tried to make clear in my post, I am simply trying to read the tea leaves and am speculating here. So speculate along with me!

Update No. 2: There was more to the original 4PDA.ru post, as Makram Daou at MobileTechWorld.com noted. Here are a few more tidbits from the original poster, with no information as to where this information is coming from:

  • ”Texus Shell (TShell) is a tool that allows you to interact with Windows Phone “Apollo” phones via a Windows PowerShell command prompt. You can copy files to the phone, execute processes, attach a debugger, run commands using the phone’s command interpreter, and run test content stored on WTT test servers”
  • ”The Windows Phone “Apollo” release ports the ambient light, proximity, magnetometer, compass, and gyroscope sensors from Windows Phone “Mango”. It also incorporates the accelerometer, which was a standalone implementation in the previous OS version”,
  • “You can use Hyper-V to test x86 builds of the phone OS”

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Mobility, 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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  • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

    Ultimate goal: every Windows 8 app is a Windows Phone 8 app too.
    Jeff Kibuule
    • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

      @dagamer34 That's what I'm hoping for.
      jamiet
      • One Binary To Rule Them All...

        While it seems great if we don't have to tweak or re-compile apps for new operating systems... do we expect the whole digital ecosystem to "just work" with anything we write ever again? In my mind, we risk getting worse at managing change, which is a scary thought where technology is concerned. Diversity and variety are what drive progress.

        That said, I applaud efforts to modularize systems to the point where all we have to do is "re-compile" or adjust around 5% of the code to get it to run on a broad spectrum of hardware options. Hopefully, the broad spectrum will be improving continually enough to motivate us to intelligently branch our source code from time to time.
        scH4MMER
    • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

      @dagamer34 Ultimate goal, every windows 8 virus and security hole is a windows Phone 8 virus and security hole.
      normcf
      • Ultimate troll

        @normcf

        every windows 8 troll like normcf is a windows Phone 8 troll like normcf.

        LOL! :D
        William Farrel
      • Except there are no W8 kernel viruses or security holes.

        Just ABM'rs who wish there were.
        Johnny Vegas
      • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

        @normcf
        Ain't that the truth ... lol
        The 'Jet' database got me thinking .. Novell had a database called Jet ..it powered NDS and parts of eDirectory .. I wonder if there is any correlation here ?? It is a rocket-ship of a database and left MS's AD in the dust back in the day ..
        Hmmm ..
        My prediction on another past topic concerning WP7 was that it would fail to create any market share if it did not fully integrate itself into Win8 .. It looks like/sounds like ... WP8 might just be MS's cherry after all ..
        Only time will tell ..
        CND-Dude
      • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

        @normcf: Windows 8 is very secure , you should watch the keynote of Build !
        DAOUDIAymen
      • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

        @DAOUDIAymen "The most secure version of windows ever" is standard boilerplate text for each release of windows...
        SkiddMarxx
    • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

      @dagamer34
      Ultimate ultimate goal: every Windows 10 app is a Windows Phone 10 app is a Windows Xbox 10 app too
      (throwing stuff at the ceiling to see what sticks to it :P)
      Federico Churca-Torrusio
      • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

        @Federico Churca Torrusio
        I heard somewhere that the next version of XBox will be built on Windows 9-th core
        stepan hakobyan
    • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

      @dagamer34 - I think you hit the nail on the head here: [i]"Ultimate goal: every Windows 8 app is a Windows Phone 8 app too."[/i]

      That HAS to be the ultimate goal - one app platform that is able to scale across phones, tablets, laptops & desktops. Win8 apps are required to be aware of and adapt dynamically to their environment (e.g. the device's screen size, orientation, whether they're pinned to the side of the screen, etc.) It makes sense, therefore, that such apps should also be able to scale themselves correctly if run in a phone environment.

      What'll be most interesting is seeing whether Microsoft will port WinRT to WP8 and whether existing WP7 apps are supported on WP8 and/or Win8.

      Either way, the effort required to port a WP7 app to WP8/W8 shouldn't be huge, but the benefits are clearly obvious.
      bitcrazed
    • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

      @dagamer34 I think that could have a huge effect on bringing WP to the stage as a major player in the smartphone arena.
      d20dad
    • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

      @dagamer34 http://www.minddriven.de/index.php/technology/dot-net/windows-technology/why-windows-phone-needs-winrt
      MatJa
  • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

    I doubt they would make devs recreate their apps. It has taken them over a year to get to 60K apps, why would they start from zero again? There is no reason that they couldn't include the current app layer with the new one.
    Shmythey
    • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

      @Shmythey...Lol! 60K apps in a little over a year is a very impressive accomplishment; you make it sound like an eternity!
      1019902735
  • Yawn.............

    "Windows Phone ???Apollo??? uses the Core System from Windows 8, which is a minimal Windows system that boots, manages its hardware and resources, authenticates and communicates on a network, and can be managed at a basic level???."

    I wondered how long before Microsoft started copying the Linux Kernel Model.

    PS Yes all apps will need recompiled.
    DejaVu2
    • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

      @garyc2011 Apps written in .NET/Silverlight won't be recompiled, they target the CLR virtual machine, and don't care about the kernel.

      Also, the Linux kernel is not modular in the binary distribution sense - you can make it as small as you want by recompiling it, but not at the binary distribution level. Windows NT is modular at the binaries level, no need for recompilation. This is an important distinction.
      OxBAADFOOD
    • RE: RedHawk to be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, too?

      @garyc2011 Also, Linux/UNIX copied Windows dynamic libraries (DLL) model, everything before that in Linux/UNIX world was monolithic.
      OxBAADFOOD
      • woot ?

        @HalfAKilo <br><br>.net cf is NOT binary compatible with the full .net CLR<br>I actually recall as of .net 4.0 i think, you can compile .net dlls that will work in both silverlight and in the full .net framework. I would certainly imagine it would be possible to engineer the full CLR on Windows Phone so that it can load and run apps than ran on the compact CLR. Could amount to a legacy mode.<br><br>Also the drivers will need a rewrite.
        DejaVu2