Wednesday, October 7, 2020

OS X is built on a UNIX kernel... will Microsoft Windows be, too?

Open-source software guru Eric Raymond has authored an argument that the presence of Linux on the desktop is imminent because Microsoft will soon run out of options to improve Windows. 

In his on-line html-based journal, Raymond argues that the porting of the Edge browsers to Ubuntu is a harbinger of the future. Microsoft developers are now embedding features in the Linux kernel to improve Windows System for Linux (WSL).  This points in a potential technical direction -- one influenced by Microsoft’s revenue stream and how has changed since the launch of its cloud service in 2010. Look at Proton, the emulation layer that allows Windows games distributed on Steam to run over Linux. 

According to  Raymond, Microsoft Windows becomes a Proton-like emulation layer over a Linux kernel, with the layer getting thinner over time as more of the support lands in the mainline kernel sources. The economic motive is that Microsoft sheds an ever-larger fraction of its development costs as less and less has to be done in-house.

A big advancement at Apple, when Steve Jobs returned, was the transition to OS X, built on top of the NeXT operating system core of BSD Unix. 

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