Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Jan 2010 16:06 UTC, submitted by fireball
ReactOS The ReactOS project aims to be an open source Windows NT-compatible operating system which can run Windows applications and utilise Windows drivers. Obviously, this is quite a daunting task, and as such, progress has been relatively slow. As a result, project coordinator and kernel developer Aleksey Bragin has proposed a rather drastic solution.
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The microkernel architecture was used in NT 3.1-3.51, but in NT 4 some performance critical components were moved to kernel-mode (although not into the NT kernel itself, which is a separate module). AFAIK this is when Win32k was born. This move resulted in a big performance improvement, but also in less clean design and some security risks (win32k has been exploited to elevate privileges).

I'm not sure what exactly goes to win32k, but at least some of the usermode GDI functions are thin wrappers that just call their kernel mode counterparts.

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