London, August 5: Microsoft has started a new research project, Midori, to develop a software program that will help uncouple Windows from a single PC.
The company has revealed that a decision to develop Midori was taken because Windows is unlikely to be able to cope with the pace of change in future technology, and the way people use it. "If you think about how an operating system is loaded, it's loaded into a hard disk physically located on that machine. The operating system is tied very tightly to that hardware," the BBC quoted Dave Austin, European director of products at Citrix, as saying. He said that that created all kinds of dependencies that arose out of the collection of hardware in a particular machine, and raised concerns for Microsoft's business in case Windows ends up being less important over time as applications become more OS agnostic
A statement issued by Microsoft describes Midori as an ambitious attempt by Microsoft to catch up on the work on virtualisation being undertaken in the wider computer industry. Virtualising generally signifies creating a software copy of a computer complete with operating system and associated programs. It allows a reduction in the numbers of machines one needs to manage, and easy shifting to another machine in case one physical server fails.
A virtual machine on a PC also enables very old applications, which existing operating systems would not run, to keep going. Many virtual machines these days are tuned for a particular industry, sector or job. "People take their application, the operating system they want to run it against, package it up along with policy and security they want and use that as a virtual client," said Dan Chu, vice president of emerging products and markets at virtualisation specialist VMWare.
In such virtual machines, the core of the operating system can be very small and easy to transfer to different devices. Many believe that the idea behind Midori is to create a lightweight portable operating system that can easily be mated to many different applications. Michael Silver, research vice president at Gartner, said that the development of Midori was a sensible step for Microsoft.
"The value of Microsoft Windows, of what that product is today, will diminish as more applications move to the web and Microsoft needs to edge out in front of that. I would be surprised if there was definitive evidence that nothing like this was not kicking around," he said. He further said that the big problem that Microsoft faced in doing away with Windows was how to re-make its business to cope.
"Eighty percent of Windows sales are made when a new PC is sold. That's a huge amount of money for them that they do not have to go out and get. If Windows ends up being less important over time as applications become more OS agnostic where will Microsoft make its money?" he said.