The following question came in from a reader who happened to catch one of my posts on a programming email list.
As usual, I quite enjoy your detailed analysis coupled with historical contexts, since I learned my trade through those days (Sun SPARC workstations, VAX minicomputers running VMS, etc.). They are always entertaining, usually edifying, and sometimes nostalgic for me. :)
I’m curious, though, about one particular point you made:
Windows isn’t even going to be Windows 2 years from now. It is going to be a Microsoft front end on top of what used to be Ubuntu Linux. They’ve already started the process with Windows 10.
Is this just prescience on your part, or is this based on some published road map from Microsoft? I abhor Windows 10 along with the direction the operating system has taken, but if they are planning to truly run on a UN*X-based foundation, as Apple decided to do with OS X, then there might be some interesting times ahead that would keep me from jumping fully to Linux and sandboxing Windows into a VM.
Well dear reader,
Lots of little things published by Microsoft and Windows 10 itself __AND__ the fact OpenSource projects don’t get sued over data breaches.
Microsoft has publicly stated it is creating DOT-NOT Anywhere (don’t remember the exact name) as well as C# anywhere in an attempt to make their obsolete sh*t usable on the current desktop. Windows 10 is the first step (integration) at putting a Windows looking desktop on top of Linux.
You may recall Microsoft paid Novell lots of money to create the first draft of this many years ago. It was called Mono and it yielded one OpenSource product, Evolution. While Evolution was pretty good early on, it was soooooo tied to the Gnome desktop it never got a real following.
Keep in mind Windows started out as a task switching GUI on top of DOS which was criminally marketed and sold as “Windows Operating System.” You typed “win” at the C: prompt and when you exited Windows you were right back to the C: prompt.
While Windows NT, when it was on the Alpha, really was an actual OS because Cutler based it on an improved VMS, the tiny minds at Microsoft could not understand logikals, RMS, file versionning, passing via descriptor and the host of other improvements (I was actually doing a project at DEC when the Alpha was being built) so, the Microsoft weenies stripped it back to DOS. While they keep adamantly telling those too lazy to look that Windows 7, 8, 10 (what happened to 9?) “are completely different from DOS” few who ever worked at that level believed them because the bootstrap was pretty much the same. Different file names, but not really that different of code.
Somewhere on-line you can pull down a free copy of MSDOS if you feel like doing some hardware debugging. At some point many years ago MS released a version of DOS for download to kill the OpenDOS, FreeDOS and half a dozen other DOS projects which were gaining steam. Each project was having trouble with one of the Microsoft memory managers needed to run Windows 3.x cleanly. I forget their names. One got loaded in CONFIG.SYS and the other in AUTOEXEC.BAT. I just did a quick search and stumbled onto this discussion where everyone claims until they are blue in the face that such a release never happened, but I distinctly remember reading that very thing on more than one DOS project Web site. Pretty much when all forward effort stopped on most projects. FreeDOS suddenly seems to be quite active again though.
Ah yes, and there is this “MSDOS 7.1” from some group in China, but I digress.
For more than two decades now when you dropped to the command line you dropped to DOS. They kept telling everyone it was running in a VM and not letting you out to the base OS, but, dropping to a VM does not prove it is not still the base OS. Even when 98 and 2000 were released MS was telling the public they weren’t DOS booted, but now the “official” word seems to be:
MS-DOS 6.22 (1994, last standalone version)
MS-DOS 7.0 (1995, Windows 95A)
MS-DOS 7.10 (1996, Windows 95 OSR 2, Windows 95 OSR 2.5, Windows 98, and Windows 98 SE)
MS-DOS 8.0 (2000, Windows Me)
Ah yes, PowerShell has had some pretty massive security breaches as well.
Why? Because Microsoft never could create business class software they just did a __lot__ of marketing to dupe people into buying it and, more importantly, duped people into reporting far more sales than actually occurred.
Officials from Equifax are going to spend the next month, if not longer, being hauled in front of Congress. Beating up executives from corporations which cause massive consumer identity theft is about the only Bipartisan thing to occur in Washington. You may remember Bill Gates got this same pleasure when Janet Reno was screwing the human race not putting him in prison at the behest of the Clintons? Well, guess who is going to be behind yet another breach at some point? Some company will be using Microsoft Windows on a server which gets breached without a pre-existing patch from Microsoft and they too will get a return trip before Congress. If it is a wide enough breach they will also get to appear before the EU and get yet another round of sanctions along with the peepee whacking.
The ONLY way to sidestep this is to make the kernel and terminal all OpenSource Linux projects. “The Community” won’t be prosecuted because they are volunteer. This means all of the networking and other security are completely out of Microsoft’s hands. This also means that the beyond wretched “Windows Registry,” a source of countless attacks as well as system stability issues, goes away. Whatever Linux uses to keep track of things is what Windows will use now.
In order to make Windows more stable and secure, Microsoft has to abandon Windows.
So yes, to answer your question, within two years Windows will be just like OSX. A task switching GUI layered on top of an actual operating system. Windows 3.1 is back in vogue.