Operating systems

Microsoft releases dev kit for Singularity, their 'concept OS'

Microsoft has made a 'research development kit' available for their 'concept OS,' dubbed Singularity. The new OS was written almost entirely in C#, giving it the benefits of managed code, including the ability to easily avoid buffer overruns, a major attack vector for viruses and worms.

Microsoft has made a Research Development Kit (RDK) available for their 'concept OS,' dubbed Singularity. The new OS was written almost entirely in C#, giving it the benefits of managed code, including the ability to easily avoid buffer overruns, a major attack vector for viruses and worms.

The new OS is currently little more than a kernel, lacking any type of user interface, but has left some observers wondering if Microsoft plans to abandon the Windows NT code base, the basis of their server operating systems for over a decade.

Microsoft's overview begins with a discussion of how they decided to create the operating system, saying...

Singularity is a research project in Microsoft Research that started with the question: what would a software platform look like if it was designed from scratch with the primary goal of dependability? Singularity is working to answer this question by building on advances in programming languages and tools to develop a new system architecture and operating system, with the aim of producing a more robust and dependable software platform.

There is at least one other project aimed at creating an OS out of C#, a high level programming language not normally used to create operating systems. SharpOS, the non-Microsoft project, released version 0.0.1 on the first day of 2008.

Singularity certainly looks like a step in the right direction as a secure, dependable operating system. Hackers will still try to find ways to compromise the operating system, but curing buffer overruns would put an end to one attack vector entirely. It is refreshing that people are working on an OS that is not based on 1960s technology and programming language, but the question is, will this concept OS make it out of the lab and onto the road?

17 comments
Jaqui
Jaqui

a black hole to throw more resources into and get nothing out of it in other words. They ask what an os designed for reliability would look like? what? are they ignorant? Unix was designed from the ground up for a multiuser environment with reliability and security in mind. ahh I understand, Unix doesn't count, because it has SECURITY in it, and Microsoft doesn't WANT SECURITY in their software.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

As a desktop OS, Singularity will have the same Catch-22 as Linux: no one will develop corporate-level apps without an established user base, and no one will use it without applications. (Unless MS subsidizes app development.) It may see the light of day as an alternative to Linux and others as an embedded OS, running dedicated applications on hardware other personal computers.

BillFerreira
BillFerreira

MS has a reliable code base, it is called NT 3.51. NT's reliability deteriorated when they decided to move ring 1 code into ring 0 (the kernel level) to improve performance. NT 3.51 would go 6-12 months between reboots. Then with 4.0 they moved the video drivers into ring 0 and it has been downhill ever since. No skilled OS architect would ever do anything that stupid. It is what happens when a vendor listens to the wrong customer requirements and fails to intelligently set priorities. But MS is not alone, IBM has done the same thing to their flagship mainframe relational database - DB2.

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

>>what would a software platform look like if it was designed from scratch with the primary goal of dependability?

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

MS started over with the Vista TCP/IP stack and that has some major issues. Fresh is not always good in security terms, especially when there is no peer review.

Bizzo
Bizzo

It'd be nice to see Microsoft bring out something new. Abandoning the NT (New Technology?) code base would be a blessing, especially if it can resolve security issues that we've been patching for the past decade or so. Not sure I agree with the name though. Singularity? Brings up images of black holes, dividing by zero and such. Should have called it #DIV/0!

Andy J. Moon
Andy J. Moon

Most "concept cars" never make it to the factory, much less the showroom, but I somehow doubt Microsoft would invest five years' time and money in a project that will never be viable in the market. Do you think Singularity will ever sport that "New OS smell?"

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I frequently wonder if they're working on their own distro, with a closed-source version of Office for Linux.

Bizzo
Bizzo

That's it. This new version, codenamed Singularity, will be called Winix. A further 4 1/2 years development, it will be due for release on 21 December 2012. The Mayans forsaw it. On December 21 2012, the first Winix OS machine will be connected to what's left of the internet, it's going to be full and almost unusable by 2010 anyway. The command #DIV/0! will be issued, this will send a message to all machines everywhere and will cause all non-MS OS's to fail, they will all be sucked through the tubes on the interweb towards this one machine. This will cause a massive blockage on one of the smallest switches, an infinite mass in an infinitesimally space, a singularity. All life will be destroyed. "Oh, sh1t. There goes the planet."

BBPellet
BBPellet

Doubt it will make it out of the lab, and if it does....it's a MS$ product so they will make it suck more resources...and cost more, with no real changes in the look and feel, and well security will go down the toilet!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Like IBM, MS will have a lab some place with row on row of computer running different OS for comparison. Now, if they have there own distro being assembled is anyone's guess but I don't doubt they have a room full of distros too take a look at any passing whim.

Jaqui
Jaqui

that they would be working on getting that adware works se instead of office on linux. Microsoft Works Sponsored Edition, a free set of office apps so they wouldn't lose any money on giving it away for linux.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

remember to let the air circulate for a while. I think some of the stale odors are affecting your brain :-)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I did get that you mean Microsoft Linux distrobution versus just running any old distrobution. I tried to respond to that and offer the suggestion that they already have a lab to study verious OS architectures so it may not be too far fetched a guess. In the research labs, who knows what wheels they are reinventing. :D

Jaqui
Jaqui

I knew what you meant. :D better revenue stream from the works se than a linux distro itself, so either way making that work on linux would pay MS better. ;)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I meant if they're working on an MS-branded distro for release, not just running others internally for comparison.

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