When news first broke about Microsoft's "Singularity," observers said it was exactly what Redmond needed to do in the wake of the Windows Vista disaster -- opt for something completely different. Scrap everything Windows and start again.
Singularity, according to what I read then, would certainly be different. The OS and its associated tools and libraries are built from nothing but managed code, and its use of software-isolated processes could result in performance savings of as much as 30 percent, Microsoft Research developers told ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. It is a research project. It is not intended to precede Windows 7, Foley said. In fact, it is completely separate from Windows.
That was in March. Now a Singularity derivative, code-named Midori, is apparently in the incubation stage of development. According to Foley, "incubation" means:
it's likely to be launched sooner than a typical Microsoft Research project, but not so soon as to obviate the need for Windows 7 and Windows 8. In other words, we're looking at a new non-Windows operating system to debut some time before CEO Steve Ballmer retires...
Foley's colleague Ed Bott says it will still be awhile before anything replaces Windows. In a post on Monday, he noted:
If Microsoft really does turn this project into a commercial product, I believe it will exist alongside Windows for several years, at a bare minimum.
Completely killing off the old technology to introduce the new is not how Microsoft does things, he says. Never mind the fact that a new OS based on a new kernel would make customers nervous and would create innumerable incompatibility issues.
Well, I buy the incompatibility argument, and of course no one wants to scare off customers who are typically resistant to change in the beginning, so it probably will be a few years before we see a commercial version of a non-Windows OS. But Bill Gates really has left the building now, and it wouldn't surprise me if a version of Midori debuted sooner rather than later -- just so Steve Ballmer can shake things up a bit and make a statement.