Monday, May 28, 2007

When will MS-Windows start using the Linux Kernel

Many moons ago (In April 2005) I posted a little prediction that Microsoft will start selling a product based on the Linux Kernel. This has not happened yet, but I hear other people say the same thing quite often lately. I'll quote my original slashdot journal entry here for completeness' sake:
... Microsoft is making money because their Windows operating systems are popular. While it is not the subject of this Journal entry, I do want to briefly touch on why I think this is so: 1) Microsoft "allowed" us to copy and play with Windows and, as a result grow used to and become familiar with it when we were young! 2) As a result, people expect to use Windows in the workplace, be it corporate or otherwise. 3) In similar vein, Microsoft encourages game development with their free DirectX driver. This gains new followers and the cycle continues. But: I do not think Microsoft will forever be able to continue this road. In particular, I think the strength of Linux's underlying kernel is hurting Microsoft. But (on the above but) nothing stops Microsoft from building their own Linux derivative product (except maybe pride). Imagine running Linux with the full true MSFC built in, and the full MS Windows APIs available to programmers. Essentially a "windows wrapper" around the Linux kernel, sold by Microsoft. Every game, productivity application, back-office program and specialist application runs on this powerful operating system unmodified, and so does Linux and X-Windows applications (due to the built-in X-server and MS-style windowing manager). Microsoft will be able to boast online kernel upgrades, device-driver upgrades, kernel parameter tuning, and have all the Open source application in the world running on their OS instantaneously... Also all the benefits of the open source community's support carries over to this new version of MS Windows So, I see a day, not too far away, when this will be reality. In fact, sign me up as the first user of MS-Linux! P.S. Before I get any flames - I am no expert on how an MSFC call is different from an API call, or how many layers of emulation would be required to make this Windows-on-linux-kernel product a reality, but this is probably in any case a moving target.
It would only make sense. We have GNU/Linux, GNU/OpenSolaris, and eventually why not MS/Linux. Microsoft can save a packet in OS development cost, and all the Linux-vs-MS-Windows wars can stop. Back then I boldly said "sign me up as the first user", but lately the freedom of Open source software became much more important to me. I do not foresee that Microsoft will give away their MS/Linux product for free, in fact I am sure it will be a closed-source proprietary affair. But then again, Sun surprised us, so why not Microsoft? Just like Sun had, I expect Microsoft to have a long and laborious legal battle ahead of them with licenses and patents of other included products - that is if they were to ever open up their platform, so don't hold your breath.

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