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Rumor: Windows 8 & Windows Phone Code Will Be Combined

By - Source: The Register | B 26 comments

Microsoft may be merging Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" by using the MinWin stack.

There's speculation that Microsoft may be merging the code of Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" and Windows 8 next year. This rumor falls into the "One Modular OS To Rule Them All" theory that we've heard for some time, an idea that Microsoft's Windows 8 would ultimately encompass the PC, the tablet, the Xbox and the smartphone.

Recent speculation behind the code merge partially stems from an announcement made by CEO Steve Ballmer on Monday that Windows Phone division president Andy Lees would take the reigns of a "time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012" with Windows Phone and Windows 8.

"We have tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential," Ballmer said without adding any further details.

Terry Myerson, who worked with Lees on Windows Phone 7 and 7.5, will take over as head of Windows Phone, Ballmer said. Lees himself signed on with Microsoft back in 1990, and before that served as corporate vice-president of Microsoft's server and tools marketing and solutions group. He moved over to mobiles as part of the entertainment and devices group restructuring in 2010.

Hal Berenson, a former Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft, believes the company is merely switching out the Windows Embedded Compact code of Windows Phone with parts of "MinWin," which is described as the "detangled core Windows kernel/file system/networking stack code." Microsoft supposedly wouldn't want to actually shove Windows 8 into a phone nor does it want to throw out all of the "Windows Phone OS" customized bits layered on top of the core, so the company is likely taking the MinWin route.

"[MinWin] is not a complete rewrite of the [Windows] kernel, but a reorganization of the APIs, so that components only call down the stack, and not up it," explains Microsoft's Mark Russinovich via the Windows Now blog, clarifying that it's not an actual kernel. "It is isolated in the build tree from the rest of Windows, so it can be innovated on by itself. It is fully bootable, 25-40 MB of disk space, and contains the executive systems, memory management, networking, and optional file system drivers. It’s fully testable, and Microsoft is working on a large suite of test cases to run against it. And it *is* indeed in Windows 7."

Previous reports indicated that Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" would arrive by mid-2012, but Microsoft later dismissed those claims. The software will likely launch alongside the general public release of Windows 8 or sometime thereafter. However it's believed that the use of MinWin will not only help accelerate the mobile OS release, but deliver cross platform coding simplicity and a significant boost in functionality. Software engineering costs would also be reduced because the desktop and mobile teams will be working on a common Windows stack code.

We expect to hear more about the possible merging of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 in just a matter of weeks at CES 2012.

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  • -6 Hide
    kalogagatya , December 14, 2011 4:14 PM
    Hmm my only fear is that such a code albeit being good at it, will not excel in any of the mentioned applications... and that is windows 7 strong point.
  • -4 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , December 14, 2011 4:31 PM
    Why is that robot from Lost in Space, going Danger, Danger in my head?
  • 0 Hide
    NapoleonDK , December 14, 2011 4:36 PM
    25-40MB reminds me of TinyXP. I can't wait to see what Microsoft does with this! An android rom can be between 80-200MB when fully featured. I doubt MinWin in its current state includes any sort of display drivers or interface (outside of command line/telnet), but if it's lean, mean, fast, and compiled for ARM, then I see a lot of developer base and enthusiasts that will love to take it apart and see how it works.
  • Display all 26 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    waethorn , December 14, 2011 4:39 PM
    GreaseMonkey_62Why is that robot from Lost in Space, going Danger, Danger in my head?

    Don't worry: the Sidekick is already dead.
  • 1 Hide
    TeraMedia , December 14, 2011 5:20 PM
    Now if I could plug a phone line into my old laptop with Windows 8 installed, and use it to dial, answer, and talk on the phone through my headset, that would be nice. No more desktop phone required. Add in caller-id and dialing from address book entries, and who would want to use a desk phone ever again?
  • 1 Hide
    willwayne , December 14, 2011 5:33 PM
    I thought everyone knew this. In order to accelerate the growth of the Windows Phone (and Windows desktop) App stores, it only makes sense to allow developers to write their code (mostly) once and target phones, tablets, and "PCs". Especially since they are all just personal computers anyway...

    Same basic thing as iOS 5 / OSX Lion and Android / Google Chrome. At least, as far as user experience is concerned within the apps.
  • 0 Hide
    Netherscourge , December 14, 2011 5:41 PM
    So Microsoft is going to make a Windows 8 ecosystem for PC/Phone....and possibly a Tablet?
  • 0 Hide
    Netherscourge , December 14, 2011 5:41 PM
    ...and the Xbox 360/720
  • 0 Hide
    endif , December 14, 2011 6:48 PM
    Why can't Windows 8 perform automatic SSD caching? With all the hype within the SSD market Windows should be nurturing this form of media just as much as it is trying to in the tablet sector.

    It seems like everyone and their mother would love to have an SSD but does not want to pay the high premiums in order to get it. 16-32 GB SSD drives are cheap, but can't hold my Windows installation and programs at the same time. Why can't I choose within Windows which drive is my storage and which drive is my boot drive?

    Windows already automatically recognizes which files I use the most within the indexing service. Why not take it one step further and automatically manage those files by migrating them to my SSD? Only the files that are needed, and nothing else. It would be nothing more complicated than an address translation at the hard drive level.

    This way even my mother could see the substantial performance boost without the complications of having to teach her how to judge which files should be place on certain drives. They could even modify their absolutely retarded idea of ReadyBoost(the initial idea of having a thumb drive store an extra page file). Instead it would be a more substantial feature within Windows that would actually be used.
  • -2 Hide
    jhansonxi , December 14, 2011 7:00 PM
    Finally, cross-platform malware without the Java overhead. Black hats rejoice!

    (In other words, code base commonality and communications integration always has a downside.)
  • 1 Hide
    nukem950 , December 14, 2011 7:12 PM
    This could be ok as long as I do not have to use the mouse like my finger(I don't want to have to do "finger swipes" with my mouse. I want a single click action.)
  • 1 Hide
    njt , December 14, 2011 7:38 PM
    ok now *this* is a very good move, a very late, very good move.
  • 2 Hide
    twelch82 , December 14, 2011 7:56 PM
    Combining the interfaces will make it easier to produce a multi-user operating system in the future that allows multiple concurrent sessions.

    Desktop computers aren't going to be replaced by tablets; they'll be replaced by a server that drives everything over WiFi from a closet, as normal as having a refrigerator or washer and dryer.
  • 0 Hide
    iLLz , December 14, 2011 9:15 PM
    Seems to me alot of companies are merging their product lines. Intel is merging Core / Atom product lines too which should be good for getting more performance out of Atom and better power management out of Core.
  • 0 Hide
    joytech22 , December 14, 2011 11:02 PM
    Well.. It would be more interesting if they did what some smartphones do but with Windows.
    My idea would be to launch Windows Phone when the device is by itself, but when docked with a laptop extension or something Windows 8 boots up.

    If Microsoft is reading this, you better pay me.. lol
  • -1 Hide
    Thunderfox , December 15, 2011 12:24 AM
    Was there ever any doubt? You have a product that runs on phone hardware, and you want to make your other product run on phone hardware. Seems pretty obvious.
  • -2 Hide
    acadia11 , December 15, 2011 1:23 AM
    Hye, I came up with the "one os to rule them all" slogan. Tom you need to freaking pay me for that I've been using it for 2 years now, singing the virtues of windows 8.
  • -2 Hide
    acadia11 , December 15, 2011 1:25 AM
    I said it before I'll say it again windows 8 is about to dig in that apple axx! Once you can run real windows apps on your phone, because, #1 hardware is powerful enough #2 one OS it's over for apple and android and their toy OS, people want to do real work on their phone now especially on the productivity end , it's not so much about the phone market but the tablet my friend, the tablet.
  • -1 Hide
    shriganesh , December 15, 2011 3:35 AM
    I am a windows fan. But I think it is going to be a huge security issue if win 8 codebase is merged with winmo 7.5 or Apollo code base! This is a boon for virus writers! Write a single virus for windows and infect tablet, pc, phone and media device (xbox)...!
  • 1 Hide
    palladin9479 , December 15, 2011 4:56 AM
    Ok some information on what "minwin" is. It's not an operating system and it's not new. It's been around since Vista, and isn't an actual kernel nor OS. Minwin is the name given to the subsection of Windows NT 6 (Vista/7/Server 2008/ Server 2008R2) that is absolutely necessary to run the OS, everything is optional. It has no GUI and runs on a command line, is stripped of all unnecessary drivers and features. It's the basic NT 6 kernel along with a CLI and whatever kernel drivers are required, that's it. It's not available to the public as a product, instead it's used by MS as a set of rules and practices to modularize their OS and give it better efficiency.

    Good article describing how it works

    What this article is saying is that Windows 8 phone will have the same basic kernel architecture as vanilla windows 8. It won't be the same OS but because their core kernel components will be the same software should easily port between the two. Software also won't auto-magically work, it will still need to be compiled for each architecture and often special design tweaks will be needed, but it won't need to be rewrote. This also paves the way for a future dual binary option, although that may not be optimal as space is limited on a mobile device.

    It also highlights how Windows has gone from a single monolithic kernel OS design to a modular design over the past decade.
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