Microsoft Employee Hints at Windows Core OS Open Source Components

LinkedIn is advertised as a place where people can share their work experience, find jobs, and mingle with their peers. It's also a roundabout way for people to leak information about what they're working on, as demonstrated by a recent Microsoft employee profile that mentions "open source components" in Windows Core OS.

The profile in question is for a Security Program Manager tasked with managing "the Security of Windows Core OS from malicious actors and code." Considering that Windows Core OS hasn't been announced yet, describing work on it for LinkedIn seems kinda like saying you're the "Alien Resources Director at Area 51," right?

Anyway. The same Security Program Manager then said that he "improved the security posture of Windows Open Source Components through initiatives that investigate vulnerabilities found and establish a process for remediation.” Connect the dots between the two, and you have reason to suspect Windows Core OS will rely on some open source components. Which brings us here.

Rumors about Windows Core OS have circulated since 2017. It's essentially believed to be the core (see that?) of modular versions of Windows customized for various devices. Microsoft tried something similar with Windows 10–remember Windows 10 Mobile?—but Windows Core OS seems to be purpose-built for crossing platforms.

Reports have claimed that Windows Core OS provides the foundation for Polaris, the code name for the next desktop version of Windows, and a mobile operating system called Andromeda. It will probably also be used for upcoming Xbox consoles, virtual reality devices, and pretty much anything else Microsoft's working on. The hodgepodge of operating systems built on top of versions of Windows that weren't meant to be used that way could disappear.

Back to the matter at hand: TechRadar noted that incorporating open source tools in Windows Core OS is a bit of a departure for Microsoft. The company uses open source tools now, but it wasn't exactly fond of the concept. Then one thing led to another, so Microsoft acquired one of the largest proponents of open source software, GitHub, and vowed to maintain the platform's commitment to openness.

Now it seems open source tech will be part of the foundation Microsoft's building to help Windows stay relevant in a time when PCs are part of a much larger ecosystem. And at least one person is so committed to being open that he openly discussed an ostensibly secret project on a professional networking platform that Microsoft owns. We've come a long way since the whole "we're going to establish a monopoly over computing" phase of the '90s, huh?

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • mrecky.101
    "Windows Core" has been around for a while in one form or another. My W10 tablet even reported itself to be running that for a while (indistinguishable from Windows 10 Home in that application and now reporting itself as Home again). Possibly a glitch, possibly not - but as a device with severely limited memory and storage it's certainly a reasonable place to use it.

    As for open source ... didn't MS open-source the core of .Net? Isn't some of Windows itself built on .Net? Logical conclusion even in the absence of other o/s components is ...?
  • Dosflores
    21699557 said:
    As for open source ... didn't MS open-source the core of .Net? Isn't some of Windows itself built on .Net? Logical conclusion even in the absence of other o/s components is ...?

    Yes, MS created an open-source version of the .NET Framework called .NET Core.
    The Universal Windows Platform is built on top of it. So, Windows 10 is already based on some open-source components.
  • stdragon
    If it were not for Google, this would not be happening. Open Source is eroding market-share for MS. They need to maintain that foothold. If they must, I have no doubt the Window OS kernel would be open sourced will still rolling out their own OS for corporate use (Active Directory, SQL, Exchange...etc).

    Question is, would there ever be an Open Source equivalent of a Steam OS built on Windows for DirectX support? Hmmmm.
  • pascal.fb.martin
    This is official, not a leak: Windows Core OS will be open source. Most likely it is a basic Windows kernel only.

  • Incipient
    21700806 said:
    This is official, not a leak: Windows Core OS will be open source. Most likely it is a basic Windows kernel only.


    That is a very strangely worded forum post...but i don't see anything particularly official there.
  • DGurney
    Let's hope they clean up the mess that is Windows, or at least make it possible for others to do so.
  • HavocX
    The ignorance of Microsofts stance on open source expressed in this article is staggering. It hasn't been like described for more than five years.

    Microsoft of today:
    - is the largest open source contributor in the world (together with Google, which is doing more depends on the metric).
    - has open sourced the current generation of its .NET framework (Core), which runs on Linux and OSX.
    - has released an open source code editor (Visual Studio Code).
    - has moved all its main open source projects to an independent organisation, .NET Foundation.
    - has used open source components in Windows for many years.
  • eye4bear
    As well as all the pieces mentioned by Havocx, all of the various bare metal Linux distros that can be installed from the Windows Store are all open source and thus would need exactly the kind of person mentioned in the article as well. It would appear that the author forgot about all that open source software most of us have already installed into Windows from MS.
  • david.r.kalinowski
    So if they released an open source windows kernel that could really help wine and linux run windows native programs in theory.. if it had game support I would have no need to run windows standard any more...
  • cgoldkorn
    Microsoft + Open Source: who cares? In a ever-growing world of Linux servers, tablets and cell phones, desktops and notebooks are quickly fading away, just note their declining sale numbers.
    For corporate users, Macs are eating away what is left of Microsoft market share. In a not so distant future, Microsoft main revenue source may only be its game console business.