Core of “Windows 7” taking shape: meet the “MinWin” kernel

Eric Traut, one of Microsoft’s chief operating system design engineers, gave a fascinating demo (WMV) recently at the University of Illinois, where he talked about where the Windows core is going and ended with a sneak peek at the kernel of the next version of Windows, known by the exciting codename of “Windows 7.” The demo showed what Windows would look like if it was literally stripped down to the core, showing the kind of work that is going on to optimize the aging NT kernel.

Traut runs a team of about 200 software engineers at Microsoft that is responsible for the core kernel scheduling, memory management, boot sequence, and virtualization technology such as Virtual PC and Virtual Server. The latter technologies are becoming more and more important as servers get more powerful and gain more and more CPU cores, and it was clear from the demonstration that Microsoft is placing significant effort into integrating virtual machine technology into everything that they do. The release of Virtual PC as a free download last year was just the beginning: Windows Server 2008 will ship with significant VM enhancements, and Windows 7 will only carry on from there.

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