On Monday, Microsoft debuted its long-awaited Windows Mobile 6.5 update at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. But as Microsoft moves forward with its “Midori” operating system incubation project, the longevity of Windows CE–the platform that Windows Mobile is based on–is in doubt, according to internal company documents viewed by Technologizer.
The documents refer to a “general sense that Windows CE is far, far closer to its end-of-life than Windows.” Indeed, Microsoft does not believe that the existing ecosystem of Windows CE devices, applications, third-party developers, and customers will force it to continue developing Windows CE indefinitely. “The device space is evolving fast enough that legacy support is less of a concern (than it would be to migrate users from the existing Windows code base,” it noted.
Midori is a componentized, Internet-centric operating system being architected from the ground up by a team led by Eric Rudder, senior vice president for technical strategy at Microsoft. Last summer, I reported that Microsoft was considering creating a layered, thin platform for mobile devices out of it–a product which could replace Windows Mobile over the long haul.
In such a scenario, Microsoft might end up with variants of one basic OS platform–Midori–on both traditional PCs and other mobile devices. The caveat is that Microsoft remains uncertain how far the company can go with a single codebase at Midori’s core.
According to the internal Microsoft documents, “There’s a limit on the hardware range that can be addressed with a single codebase, no matter how factored and substitutable the components. The litmus test of whether a device is too small to support with code may be if it can download code. Even if we cannot execute our code on tiny devices (light switches & smart sand), we may be able to extend our model to those devices, in the form of naming, the protocol for remote calls, etc.”
The documents noted that a general-purpose device OS must be carefully designed to be reconfigurable into myriad of configurations. That is not impossible to accomplish–Apple did it successfully with OS X, which powers both Macs and iPhones. Microsoft’s Visual Studio development tools are being updated with Application Lifecycle Management that will make it easier for it to create multiple versions of Windows based on the same codebase (assuming that Microsoft uses Visual Studio to develop Midori).
As I previously disclosed, Midori is designed to have a single framework for all device types called Resource Management Infrastructure (RMI). RMI is designed to manage and monitor I/O bandwidth, memory, power, and other resources, and to take them into account as it schedules tasks for processing. Microsoft believes that Midori’s power-based scheduling would be a good fit for mobile devices.
“I think we’re about to deluged over the next few years with Mobile Internet Devices as Intel pushes the Atom chip and AMD rushes to catch up,” Forrester Research principal analyst Jeffrey Hammond told me. That would seem an interesting place for Midori as the hardware is pretty similar [to traditional PC design], but power and form factor are different.’