Windows

Windows 7 to feature a 25 MB kernel

More than 200 programmers are working concurrently on slimming down the Windows kernel for Windows 7, the next version of the operating system. Called MinWin, it consists of just 100 files and weighs in at 25 MB compared to Vista's 5,000 files and 4 GB core.

More than 200 programmers are working concurrently on slimming down the Windows kernel for Windows 7, the next version of the operating system. Called 'MinWin', it consists of just 100 files and weights in at 25 MB compared to Vista's 5,000 files and 4 GB core.

MinWin does not have a graphical interface and will not be productized. Still, its size will "Kill the old perception about Windows being bloated software that needlessly takes up space," according to Eric Traut, who holds the title of distinguished engineer at Microsoft.

Excerpt from ComputerWorld:

A lot of people think of Windows as this really large, bloated operating system, and that may be a fair characterization, I have to admit," said Eric Traut ...

"[So] we created what we call MinWin. It's still bigger than I'd like it to be, but we've taken a shot at really stripping out all of the layers above and making sure that we had a clean architectural layer there.

The new microkernel will be used internally for all upcoming versions of Windows, including for its media centers, servers, and even small embedded devices.

Additional reading:

The release date for Windows 7 is expected in 2010, according to Microsoft.

What are the chances that Windows 7 is to Vista what Windows XP was to Windows ME?

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About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

70 comments
jimamily
jimamily

We?ve all heard the term broadband for years now, but what does that even mean? The term broadband came into being when the world of internet switched from dial-up?or narrowband?to a faster internet connection capacity. 8Mb Broadband Guide http://8mbbroadband.com/

rui.jorge.sa
rui.jorge.sa

This is so gonna be a recreation of Windows ME but NT style. Why can't Microsoft reinvent itself and come back from the not so deep hole of crap OS? Best OS I've seen so far from them, according to price/functionality/requirements is XP, then it's Windows 98.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Was this whole thing planned so Windows could supplant the Linux OS designed for the "one laptop per child" global project? Someone on a discussion about that factor woke me up to this possibility. The project director was forcing Windows to downsize so they could run on cheap low power components. The Linux package already fit the bill of course, but this was necessary to get Gates and his philanthropic power behind the project. Redmond instists that people will be given a choice; but modifications were made to the motherboard to make this possible. I don't know how they'll get it to fit once they get the GUI, wireless drivers, ect. onto the kernal. Knowing Redmond the temptation to bloat will be irresistible

Absolutely
Absolutely

Bundling apps like Works and Internet Explorer [u]with[/u] a [i]bona fide[/i] operating system would have been fine with me, if all apps could be removed, and apps were properly defined as all modules not [u]directly[/u] responsible for hardware control, the correct definition of an operating system. 25MB looks like a plausible size for a set of instructions to interface with the latest models of all i386-compatible hardware, but it's at least 12 years too late.

HatGuy
HatGuy

"Real Soon Now (RSN)" I'm sure. XP -> Vista suggests, what, 8-10 years? Maybe only 5 years if there are no spec changes, etc.? I'm not holding my breath, that's for sure. (Thanks to Jerry Pournelle for the quote and acronym.)

tituska
tituska

hop this means less specs for hardware

JCitizen
JCitizen

sell "distribution units" to slap on later kind of like open source, but you pay dearly for the distro? Imagine the confusion the non IT public would have with that; as if Vista wasn't confusing enough.

gkandhan
gkandhan

That's great news. I have always appreciated Microsoft in the ways they advitise their product. Think this is going to be one more feather on the hat.

skippysboi
skippysboi

Windows without the GUI,....wait, wasn't that DOS?

dhenderson
dhenderson

Uhh... Maybe it's just me, but how can it still be called WINDOWS if there aren't any? "No graphical interface" - so, they made a 25MB version of DOS? Whoop-dee-doo. Congratulations.

nentech
nentech

May have get some more ram for my pc 25 Megabytes It better be a 64bit OS They have a lot more work to do They will have to increase the size of all the add on components How will hardware vendors stay in business if it gets smaller? Worst if it runs on old hardware No need to buy a new PC just to run the OS Col

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

You put the memory stick in and the computer boots to XP.In theory it should work in any computer even with an OS running.However,in the real world you're stuck with drivers and so on.

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

25MB is still a ridiculously huge size, especially when you consider that there are Linux distributions that are under 80MB. I was reading something last week about MS-DOS, and how Bill Gates was alleged to have said that no one needd more than 640k of memory. Boy, if they had only kept that philosophy! LESS memory meant that programming had to be tight and concise. MORE memory means sloppy programming and bloatware. Sometimes I think we were better off in the "olden days" when everything fit onto a floppy.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Gosh, that's...small? I hate to date myself, but I remember (and I'm not the only one!) when the entire OS kernel would load in less than 100kB. As for the comparison, I think tschruefer got it right. Vista = Bob, Win 7 = XP (or even 2K)

paulmah
paulmah

Do you reckon are the chances that Windows 7 will be to Vista what Windows XP was like to Windows ME?

qhcomputingny
qhcomputingny

Use Windows 7, then post about it. You'll eat your words....

apotheon
apotheon

They'll be crowing about how "small" their 25MB kernel is for a while, I'm sure. Ironic that, for instance, the standard Linux kernel only recently got too big to fit on a 1.44MB floppy.

AstroCreep
AstroCreep

Well, originally it was going to be released at the end of the decade. "Originally" is when it was still referred to as "Blackcomb" and while Vista was still in development and being referred to as "Longhorn (so yeah, this was back in 2003 or so). I wouldn't be surprised if it's delayed way past the "End of the decade" forecast seeing as how Vista's only a year old...but being as how Vista's adotoption has been marred by such negativity from both the consumer and buisness world, it wouldn't surprise me if the opposite happens and MS pushes Blackcomb/Vienna/Windows 7 through the production line so that we can get it in time for the 'End of the Decade' timeframe.

ina_don
ina_don

Lets just clearly and easily concede!! Linux has kicked windows 2 hard, they have noticed and it will just be them studying (or they've completed studying) the linux kernel, trying to add some stuff or code it in a different language or way to avoid issues and compiling it for the market. And that being the case, all other stuff will work just like Linux with X a separate sub-system. So no need to bother buying Vista anymore. MS are basically now starting to try diverting attention from Vista if they've started pushing Win7 while Vista is struggling so bad!

GRAYGOAST52
GRAYGOAST52

IM JUST A COMPUTER NUT,BUT CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT A KERNAL IS,SO I CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT EVERY ONE IS BLOGING ABOUT THANKS

seanferd
seanferd

I suppose it would depend on what Microsoft thinks when it thinks "windows". Yeah, they probably mean the windowed GUI. Programmatically, "window" means something else, and came before the GUI. Get a real expert to explain this. Also, many more GUI objects other than what you might expect are windows. Think: processes, threads, windows. I stand ready to be corrected. edit--> It seems that many also are not noticing that this will not be a product.

glgruver
glgruver

You'll need to run this in WINE...er something called ENIW.

Zaitoshi
Zaitoshi

It's not so much a 25MB MS-DOS as it is a fully 32 (or 64)bit multitasking, networked, commandline driven OS. A.k.a. the succesfully cloned Linux/Unix/BSD/everything other than windows. Seriously though, I hope they'll start stripping down more products this way. Take a look as Office 2007 for instance. All MS products keep growing in size. I'm glad someone woke up and smelled the coffee.

cmnetworx
cmnetworx

I don't see why they cant get below 25 mb.. Here they have 98 under 8mb.. http://www.embeddingwindows.com/8mb_windows98.html This website also has info on a slimmed down version of xp on a flash drive as this guy was saying. It is pretty small, but I was not able to find it on the website this time..

leeroberthill
leeroberthill

Sounds like Windows XPE.. More likely to be booted from a CD but im sure you can USB boot it.. Some really good distro's of it about, especially good for troubleshooting / fixing dead installs.. You can even create your own (not sure of licencing issues though so please check), with "Bart's PE Builder", including your own specific drivers and programs.

Oktet
Oktet

That sounds like Puppy Linux, or Backtrack Linux, I actually have both distro's on two separate USB flash drives, and they work superbly fast, both distro's are bootable, and don't require any additional drivers. Will Windows be able to achieve the same feat?

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

Wasn't the kernel of CP/M only about 4k?

etruss
etruss

These questions always sound like one of those comparison SAT questions. They are so vague that meaningful response is not possible. Of course, in these situations it encourages discussion since the question is so open that anything is a valid response.

vinodfuture-ids
vinodfuture-ids

a "25 mb Kernel" Now Windows Will show what they r made up of..!!

paras
paras

Every time Microsoft launched a new Windows OS, it got bigger, heavier, slower and most PC's needed an upgrade. Whereas every time Mac launched a new OS it more compressed, better and faster! Finally Microsoft seems to understand...less is more!

Wally Bahny
Wally Bahny

Windows 7 couldn't be any worse than Vista, could it...?

cvjack
cvjack

The idea behind this whole Vista scheme is simply for M$ to rake in more $$$ - the same as it was for ME. WinME was a giant piece of crap that never made it onto a single computer at my business. I predict the same for 'VistaME'. It will die before any of my systems ever have it installed. In addition, I've found that I can still purchase laptop and desktop PCs on-line that do not FORCE me to run Vista. It's strange how quickly Vista disappears when the purchase of a dozen laptop computers hinges on dumping Vista in favor of XP Pro or no O/S at all. For now, I'll stick with XP Pro for all my current systems but in the future, I will consider using Ubuntu and/or Linux. BTW, a BIG thank you goes out to M$ for forcing me to consider alternatives to the bloated, sluggish, extremely costly, poorly conceived M$ stratagem called Vista. If not for its release, I never would've discovered that Ubuntu runs all of my currently required applications nicely. Thanx M$

Evisscerator
Evisscerator

What I would say to you folks is this. Taking a good look at their microkernel development, it would be an equivilent to a MS DOS product or even the Windows Power Shell 3.0. Without all the GUI files to lord over it, its really nothing !

barrettavery
barrettavery

I am an avid Mac user, so when I see Microsoft blundering along I am cheering :) Since the more they blunder the more Mac is making a stand. But still, 25MB as the kernel core, that is impressive. I wonder what they are going to do to keep their OS Flashy? Will they bost a lightweight core but then load it down with the graphics stuff that the end user expects? Hmmm...only time will tell!

ginkep
ginkep

I'm still do have QNX demo floppy and this statement makes me laughting :)))

casimiro.barreto
casimiro.barreto

Nobody quoted (up to the moment) that they are calling Windows 7 MinWin and categorizing it as a "micro kernel"... Having worked with some micro kernels I think that a 25MB micro kernel is quite typical of Microsoft... so you may expect the whole OS much larger and sluggish than the current Vista.

apotheon
apotheon

MS Windows 7 doesn't seem all that great to me. For instance, everybody seems to be in awe over the "small" size of a 25MB kernel for Windows 7, but to me that just looks like it's an order of magnitude larger than a modern OS kernel needs to be. Contrast that, for instance, with the kernel sizes of the open source BSD Unix systems, Linux, and MacOS X (which uses a modified Mach kernel). While you're at it, you may as well contrast MS Windows 7's version of UAC with su and sudo on any Unix-like OS.

JCitizen
JCitizen

doesn't come out with a "Newbie" ready distro; that already has the features compiled for all the gizmos that the public seems to be voracious for; with VMware to play their favorite non Linux games and all. Wouldn't seem like an impossibility, would it? Ubuntu seems close candidate with all the claims I keep reading online. I'm not familiar with all the supported flavors though; or how much they charge. Even if they charged $70 a year it would take a few good years to equal the cost of one non-OEM Windows license.

raylinkz
raylinkz

I think they should just bite the bullet and rename the OS 'weenie'.

igtddave
igtddave

The huge size of the Windows OS is the result of patch job over patch job or band-aid over band-aid. The OS is of serious need of restructuring/rewriting from scratch. Each OS since Win95 has been a build off of each other (and not a very good build at that). And with each addition came numerous holes, glitches, and security issues. It's about time they go back to the basics.

apotheon
apotheon

Washburn T14 with blue quilt-top finish! I'm just testing that hypothesis that "anything is a valid response." Feel free to ignore. I agree, though, with your point(s).

brianbrian
brianbrian

This is so wrong! Upgrading your Mac OS to the never version required buying a whole new ~$1000 machine! Only now you can upgrade to Lepoard from Tiger without having to get new hardware. But it hasn't always been that way.

nentech
nentech

They were only interested in sales for the least amount of work So they bolted on the newer stuff instead of integrating it into the OS Also you need to look at what other companies they invested in Increase size and design it to slow down the system People will then go out and buy new hardware to get some of the speed back This change in attitude has happen because of 3 things 1. Portable PCs (Notebooks,Laptops) which need to conserve battery life 2. Hardware development is slowing/changing (Green PC?s and increases in speed are getting hard to find) 3 People are now looking at more choice in OS?s Col

cmnetworx
cmnetworx

I must also thank M$ for their release of vista, it caused me to look into alternatives.. If I hadn't been as irritated by vista as I was I would have never discovered that I can do all of the same stuff in Ubuntu, and the transition was pretty easy, far from what I was expecting with linux.. I won't ever be going to vista!

Timbo Zimbabwe
Timbo Zimbabwe

"Since the more they blunder the more Mac is making a stand." Yep... up to a 3% market share. That is quite a stand they're making. BTW, they are opening themselves to the PC hardware market because.... why?

sbillings
sbillings

If you look at the entire computer universe as a pie chart, MACs only make up a small sliver of that pie and always will. Whether MACs are better or not is irrelevant, they simply do not share enough of the market. The best example of better technology losing would be Beta vs VHS. Back in the tape days, Beta was far superior to VHS BUT... because Sony didn't license out it's design, VHS won. That allowed every TV maker to make a VCR thus also allowing massive marketing to take place. Beta fell to a hich market-- It was the format used in the broadcast industry and that's it. Same as MACs, they're a nich product. It's a FACT. I agree that Windows has become very bloated. Case in point-- VISTA. I am the only person in the entire medical practice I work for that uses Vista. Even though we won't be going to Vista anytime soon, my manager had me install Vista on my PC because inevitably one of our doctors is going to buy a PC with Vista on it and we'll need to know how to support it. My machine is gasses-up with 2gigs of ram and a dual core P4. It needs it to get out of its own way. There is NOTHING that vista does that XP can't. XP is pretty solid. Vista hasn't caused me many problems but it is just so darn bloated--unnecessarily. I can do without the eye-candy but leave it on because again, a doc will be running it on his PC. How does all that flash help me type a document or perform basic computer tasks? I see Vista as being the next ME, God what an awful crappy OS Windows ME was--Trying to be XP on the Win98/Win95 kernel. I welcome Min-Win.

Oktet
Oktet

Kernel=Chicken

eward
eward

95 and 98 we built on top of MS-DOS (just like 3.1) But 2k/XP were reworked on the NT framework. They were a new build completely, not built off 98. Also, note that Vista was originally being built from XP, but that was scrapped. They used server 2k3 as the foundation for Vista.

favorunmerited
favorunmerited

I still have my enhanced Apple ][e, and think about it more than I should. One floppy to load ProDos and Appleworks; Pop in the other floppy, and I had all of the documents I'd ever created or edited. The ribbon printer had me worrying about the price of paper, not the ink. And I could sort by stages, i.e., date of oldest circuit board, group all similar circuit boards together and sort by date, Then sort by s/n within each date. Excel still doesn't do that, and Access is more trouble than it's worth for such a simple task. Sorry for the side rant. I bought a P.C. because of the aformentioned hardware upgrade with Macs, and I'm running XP on a 9 year, 10 month old IBM Aptiva, and I boot faster that the Vista machines I support, and the only thing I've tried to run that won't is Flight Simulator X, another MS product. The irony as I see it is, ProDOS for the Apple ][ was written by Microsoft. Greg

Slayer_
Slayer_

Windows 95 with 32 mmb of RAM and 200mhz processor, booted in 6 seconds flat (8 if u include POST). Shutdown was instant, you clicked shutdown, screen went black and it said it was now safe to turn off your computer. Gotta admin, full productivty in 8 seconds of startup time is pretty good, i mean after 8 seconds you could start up word or w/e if you wanted too. Word97 took about 2 seconds to fire up on that machine. Word 2000 took about 8 seconds.

qhcomputingny
qhcomputingny

Comparing an Apple IIe to any computer today is ridiculous and shows just how annoying Mac users are with their fanboyisms!!! So what if it could boot quickly.. What did it boot into that could even compare to what pc's can do today? Windows 7 is great, Vista now with SP1 is fine. Funny how people hold on to this Vista BS as if it's the cool thing to talk about... Vista had issues at first, many of them were hardware issues with devices that didn't have proper drivers, which in the end wasn't Microsoft's fault anyway. I have Vista running on a PIV with 2GB of Ram and it runs fine. It's not the "greatest" in the world, but it isn't as bad as everyone keeps making it out to be. Step into 2009 and stop living in '06!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I remember the days when adjusting config and autoexec was 90% of the tweaking needed for an MS dos/win system with the last 10% happening in the PIF. Games all needed a minimal config/autoexec so my general boot just loaded win.com at the end since I needed it up for a two node BBS. (I could never get Deskview to behave quite right as a multi-tasker though I did prefer it even with some bleed through background views)

bpsull
bpsull

Unless PCs move towards the PDA style, almost 'always on' type of operation or there are some significant efforts to reduce the number of processes that need to be loaded when the machine boots. Also, in a similar vein, I really wonder if anyone of my approximate age group remembers having a PC that didn't directly boot to Windows (as in the days of Windows 3.x when you started Windows from the DOS command line).

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...was an Apple ][e with a 6MHz 8080 card running CP/M. And that was booting off of floppies. I think it's absurd that 25 years later, it takes several times longer too boot a 2.5GHz machine with gigabytes of RAM and high speed hard disks. It's because the only thing that has expanded faster tham Moore's Law is the code bloat within Microsoft Windows.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Solid State hard drives on a USB 3 interface would certainly speed things up. I just noticed that somehow the word "kernel" snuck in to my original post. I intended the sentence to read: [i]I hate to date myself, but I remember (and I'm not the only one!) when the entire OS would load in less than 100kB.[/i] No point in changing it now...

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

I just wonder if there will ever be a generation again that knows what it's like to have a computer that takes less than 5 minutes to boot up.

JCitizen
JCitizen

my brother into thinking he has to do this. I assumed he was correct because of the difference in hardware between his Tiger unit and the new Intel units. I don't blame him for believing it because it has happened to him before.

apotheon
apotheon

Apple finally learned a lesson from BSD Unix and GNU/Linux -- that OS upgrades should not always necessitate hardware upgrades to maintain any kind of reasonable system performance. Microsoft may be learning that lesson as well, a few years after Apple did. I'm not holding my breath, though.

OO_Dragon
OO_Dragon

Yeah, people are really moving towards portability more then anything it seems, Microsoft and hardware company's will have to change accordingly. Like the new solid state hard drives, being that they do have a limited time they can be written on, (years of casual writes... but still) so vista is not going to be your OS of choice, it does way to much in the background, and has a lot of files. with a smaller OS they can just offload all the small temp writes to RAM so the HDD doesn't end up taking a lot of hits, which also increases the performance a hella lot!

JCitizen
JCitizen

that having a huge market share can make more money than exclusionary business practices. You are right about the forced obsolesence of the past; I gather most Apple diehards like my brother forgave and forgot because they were wanting a new machine anyway; and new capablility to interact with Apple gizmoze. Although I haven't forgiven them for past transgression; at least now with their PC hardware base you could modify it to run something else. And I am positive this is legal and I will argue this strenuously with anyone that cares to waste carpal tunnel time. I agree with you that Apple is probably making more money with the mobile gadget market right now; but they did finally come out with a few reasonably priced computer units this last round; like the MiniMac. And I bet they are noticing the volume advantage now. Although I don't know how successful the Mini was in sales volume; but it couldn't have hurt Apple's standing with the public, as they could now be seen as concerned with pricing things for the general public and not just some kind of elite ivory tower crowd.

t.rohner
t.rohner

When i remember correctly, a considerable amount comes from Ipod sales. As nice their products are, they switched too many times. 68000 to PPC to Intel, SCSI to USB/Firewire, OS9 to X. Leaving the users with obsolete hard and software. And they were extremly expensive in the time when PC's became a commodity. Of course, this doesn't drive their religiously following crowd away...

JCitizen
JCitizen

I don't think Stevey J. even cares if he sells volume or not. If the pie chart keeps going at the rate they are accelerating; I would be worried if I were Stevey B. Especially if Jobs wakes up and discovers the principle that volume pricing can create volume profits. Switching to the PC hardware platform makes this possible..Not today though; I doubt.

spaul940
spaul940

I worked for Sony at the time of the great BETA vs. VHS debacle. The reason that RCA choose VHS over BETA is that Sony insisted that the "B" be on every RCA BETA machine. RCA refused - negotiations failed - and VHS won the deal! DUMB!