What's The Story With Microsoft Midori?

Rumours continue to circulate about Midori, a development project at Microsoft to build a non-Windows-based operating system. One thing seems clear: however interesting it might be, it won't be running on a machine near you in 2014.

Midori picture from Shutterstock

Windows development is always an area ripe for rumours, and the shift to annual updates for the main Windows OS doesn't appear to have halted speculation in this area. We've already encountered reports that the 2015 release of Windows is codenamed Threshold. Now we're seeing speculation that a non-Windows OS platform, long known as Midori, is accelerating towards a potential release

Why would Microsoft even want to work on a non-Windows platform, given the importance of Windows to its business? The main reason is to avoid legacy issues. Windows 8 still needs to maintain backwards compatibility with a wide range of existing Windows software. That not only creates code bloat, it also means developers often stick with well-established routines, rather than exploring new options such as cloud-based computing. Offering a new OS provides the potential to change that approach.

The Midori project has been reported on for quite some time, though Microsoft has never officially acknowledged it in public. Two events in late December put Midori back in the headlines. Firstly, Microsoft researcher Joe Duffy revealed details of a project he had been working on to create "systems programming extensions" for use with C#. Secondly, longtime Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley noted that Duffy worked in a team that was also working on Midori, said that the C# language was being used as part of the Midori development effort, and noted that Midori was now part of Microsoft's Unifed Operating System group, meaning it was more likely to be commercialised than when it had simply been a research project.

Duffy himself rejected the connection between his C# project and Midori in an update to his original post:

What was meant to be an innocent blog post to ease into some open community dialogue has turned into umm quite a bit more. As is hopefully clear from my bio, the language I describe below is a research effort, nothing more, nothing less . . . I do expect to write more in the months ahead, but all in the spirit of opening up collaboration with the community, not because of any "deeper meaning" or "clues" that something might be afoot. Too much speculation! I love to see the enthusiasm, so please keep the technical dialogue coming. The other speculation could die silently and I'd be a happy man.

Midori might represent one potential future strategy for Microsoft, but it seems unlikely we'll see those ideas influencing desktop and server systems for quite some time to come. If Microsoft wants to stick to its annual release cycle, we'll see another major Windows update sometime around September. That will be more like a point release than the major interface switch of Windows 7, though it's possible some new features will be introduced.


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