OSDev.org

The Place to Start for Operating System Developers
It is currently Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:48 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Microsoft to replace NT with Linux
PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:21 am 
Offline
Member
Member

Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:24 am
Posts: 927
Split from viewtopic.php?f=15&t=42259 because it was getting off-topic there. Also moved to a non-technical sub-forum, as this is more about business then tech. The journey so far:
vvaltchev wrote:
Given how much Microsoft is investing in Linux, I'd guess it's even possible that one day the NT kernel will be replaced by a sort of Microsoft-patched Linux kernel.

nullplan wrote:
I've heard that before, and... no. No, I don't think that will ever happen.

vvaltchev wrote:
Well, the theory is that Microsoft is just a single (even if big) company that has to maintain & develop, alone, a huge project like the NT kernel and that costs a "ton" of money, every year. Given that a considerable part of "desktop" users are moving away to other platforms (phones, tablets or other operating systems) and the future indicates that this trend will continue, Microsoft will earn less and less from the Windows product, as a whole. That's why the company is heavily investing in the cloud services and other stuff. Windows is being slowly de-funded, in my understanding. About 10 years ago or so, the company started to de-fund the Windows testing infrastructure, moving towards a "community testing" model with telemetry. Each release has still internal testing (of course), before reaching beta testers etc, but not at the same level as in the past. So, the idea is that the company might consider at some point the idea of writing a compatibility layer and replace their kernel with a kernel supported by a large community. Their support cost will drop by a lot, in the long term. Of course, that would require making everything *so good* that end users won't even notice. If they do notice, as you said, that would be a huge problem.

Said that, I have to clarify that I'm not exactly hoping this will happen: it's just a theory that makes sense, to me. In other words, I wouldn't be surprised if that happened. But actually, I'd prefer this to not happen because competition is a good thing. If we end up with just a single kernel, its quality over time will decrease.

And now the continuation.

I still don't think any of this is going to happen. The Windows wellspring is seriously not drying up as much as some visionaries claim. They don't earn the lion's share of their money with licenses to private individuals[1], they do it with licenses to companies. To OEMs to put in their computers. And that is still going strong. OEMs also make their money by selling to companies. And just speaking for myself: I can't do my job (software development) on a tablet. Neither can the accountants, the hardware designers, the managers, marketing... I cannot think of a single department that could switch to tablets. Even HR has some specialized software that must run on Windows. And on the production floor they need specialized software that was written once for Windows. Some of the newer stuff is .NET and could conceivably run on Linux, yes, but on a tablet? Doubtful.

Even the premise that MS are the only ones working on their kernel is flawed. Most of the work happening on kernels these days is hardware support, and there are tons of third parties out there contributing drivers to MS at no cost to them. In fact, MS for a long time had the audacity to charge money for the driver development kit, and people paid it. The DDK still has to be paid if the use is commercial, if I'm not mistaken.

And even if I were to grant that their money is drying up, then it still would not make sense for them to replace NT with Linux for Windows. This compatibility layer you talk about is pretty darn expensive to make. Creating it under the premise that the market is failing would be throwing good money after bad. It would make more sense to abandon Windows entirely once it stops being profitable, but there can be no honest claim of that right now, can there? And before that, to revitalize interest in Windows and the kernel, it would make way more sense to open-source NT and start to compete with Linux on that front. That wouldn't mean open-sourcing Windows entirely, just the kernel. There's still plenty complicated userland to go along with it, that would remain closed-source.

And if you doubt they would compete for developers with Linux, ask yourself what the point of WSL is, from a business perspective. It is not to rub your belly in particular. It was to make Linux developers feel more at home, to make them not switch to Linux for tasks that might require it. WSL as a business move is the exact opposite from replacing NT with Linux.

[1] I had a trip down memory lane, and I only ever paid 30 bucks directly for a Windows license, and while I did buy ca. 10 OEM licenses over the course of my life, how much money could they have made from me when the whole machine cost 300€? Not enough to fund their enterprise, that's for certain.

_________________
Thou hast outraged, not insulted me, sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Microsoft to replace NT with Linux
PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2021 12:45 pm 
Offline
Member
Member

Joined: Fri May 11, 2018 6:51 am
Posts: 110
nullplan wrote:
I still don't think any of this is going to happen. The Windows wellspring is seriously not drying up as much as some visionaries claim. They don't earn the lion's share of their money with licenses to private individuals[1], they do it with licenses to companies. To OEMs to put in their computers. And that is still going strong. OEMs also make their money by selling to companies. And just speaking for myself: I can't do my job (software development) on a tablet. Neither can the accountants, the hardware designers, the managers, marketing... I cannot think of a single department that could switch to tablets. Even HR has some specialized software that must run on Windows. And on the production floor they need specialized software that was written once for Windows. Some of the newer stuff is .NET and could conceivably run on Linux, yes, but on a tablet? Doubtful.
I totally agree with your points about the use of Windows in the business world. Just, I don't know the actual numbers, so I'm not able to compare the Windows OEM/retail income with the one from volume licenses.

nullplan wrote:
Even the premise that MS are the only ones working on their kernel is flawed. Most of the work happening on kernels these days is hardware support, and there are tons of third parties out there contributing drivers to MS at no cost to them. In fact, MS for a long time had the audacity to charge money for the driver development kit, and people paid it. The DDK still has to be paid if the use is commercial, if I'm not mistaken.
Well, clearly I'm talking just about the kernel itself and the Microsoft drivers. HW vendors support their own drivers. Not sure how big is the revenue from DDK licenses.

nullplan wrote:
And even if I were to grant that their money is drying up, then it still would not make sense for them to replace NT with Linux for Windows. This compatibility layer you talk about is pretty darn expensive to make. Creating it under the premise that the market is failing would be throwing good money after bad. It would make more sense to abandon Windows entirely once it stops being profitable, but there can be no honest claim of that right now, can there? And before that, to revitalize interest in Windows and the kernel, it would make way more sense to open-source NT and start to compete with Linux on that front. That wouldn't mean open-sourcing Windows entirely, just the kernel. There's still plenty complicated userland to go along with it, that would remain closed-source.
That's another possibility, of course. I'm not excluding anything.

nullplan wrote:
And if you doubt they would compete for developers with Linux, ask yourself what the point of WSL is, from a business perspective. It is not to rub your belly in particular. It was to make Linux developers feel more at home, to make them not switch to Linux for tasks that might require it. WSL as a business move is the exact opposite from replacing NT with Linux.
Sure, the point of WSL is to attract developers.

Anyway, I'm not defending the "crazy" theory that Microsoft will replace NT with Linux. It's just a possibility. One smaller-scale example of that kind: Microsoft announced that they'll abandon their Edge browser in 2019. Now they have a Chromium-based browser that will just look like Edge. Soon, it will replace Edge definitively: https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-edge-legacy-phase-out-232116614.html.
They saw it costed too much to have their own full-featured and modern browser and the benefits were not enough, so they dropped the whole project.

Still, I honestly hope NT won't be replaced. It's better to have real alternatives and competition.

_________________
Tilck, a Tiny Linux-Compatible Kernel: https://github.com/vvaltchev/tilck


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group