posted by Thom Holwerda on Fri 30th May 2008 14:49 UTC
IconWe have learnt quite a lot about Windows 7 this week, and one of the things was that Windows 7 would not get a new kernel. The call for a new kernel has been made a few times on the internet, but anyone with a bit more insight into Windows' kernel knows that there is absolutely no need to write a new kernel for Windows - the problems with Windows lie in userland, not kernelland. While the authenticity of the Shipping Seven blog is not undisputed, the blogger makes some very excellent points regarding the kernel matter.

I have written numerous times that there is nothing wrong with the Windows NT kernel currently powering about 90% of the world's desktops. It provides advanced security features, it's extremely stable, very portable, and supports just about any piece of hardware in the x86 desktop and server markets. "In conclusion, scrapping Windows NT would be a pointless exercise. It is a mature, stable, and, yes, secure system by design." I wrote a year ago, "Do not make the mistake of thinking that simply because Microsoft refused to enforce proper security policies from the get-go, that NT is an insecure system by design."

The Shipping Seven blog seems to agree with this position. "The 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 kernel has evolved quite nicely over the years, and (in my opinion) is one of the best bits of code we have," the blogger writes, "You do not, and should not, do a total rewrite of a kernel in a widely-used OS between releases." He makes a valid point: how often, exactly, has the Linux kernel been rewritten?

It also seems as if a lot of people are confused by the concept of MinWin, introduced by Eric Traut in October last year. MinWin is not a new kernel. It is not a ground-up rewrite of the Windows NT kernel. MinWin is just as he described it: the Windows NT kernel stripped of a lot of things. Nothing new, nothing fancy. Traut also specifically mentioned that MinWin would not become a product in and of itself.

The Shipping Seven blogger reiterates that you already more or less have MinWin; theoretically, you could strip Windows Vista down to just the NT kernel using the command line. Personally, I have no idea how you would go about that, but the authors of vLite do. Sadly, this tool is unsupported by Microsoft.

I agree with the comments on the blog post: Microsoft should provide a tool similar to vLite for Windows Vista - in fact, Microsoft could even buy out the vLite people, seeing as the company has done so before with other tools they found useful. Bless the tool, help improve it, and give us the ability to control every aspect of Windows.

If it's already so componetised as they say, what's the big deal?

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