Microsoft builds mini Windows core

Microsoft builds mini Windows core

MinWin to serve as foundation for custom Windows versions

Microsoft has developed a minimised version for the next release of its Windows operating system codenamed Windows 7.

Dubbed MinWin, the software is essentially a stripped down version of the Windows kernel that takes up 40Mb of disk space. A full version of Windows Vista claims 4Gb.

MinWin does not have a graphical interface, forcing users to interact with the application through an integrated http server. The application is intended for internal use only, allowing the firm to create a wide range operating systems customised for specific tasks.

Microsoft currently markets Windows for a wide selection of devices ranging from desktop computers and servers to TV set-top boxes and network routers. MinWin will allow the software developer to quickly expand into new areas, argued Eric Traut, a distinguished engineer.

"This will provide us with the ability to move into a lot of new areas," Traut said at a lecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana. A video of the lecture was posted on the university's website.

MinWin's size kills an old preconception about Windows being bloated software that needlessly takes up space, he added.

"A lot of people think of Windows as this really large, bloated operating system and that's maybe a fair characterisation, I have to admit. It is large. It contains a lot of stuff in it, but at its core, the kernel and the components that make up the very core of the operating system actually are pretty streamlined."

The Damn Small Linux (DSL) distribution is the smallest Linux version around. Its developers aim to keep the distribution under 50Mb and the first version measured a mere 22Mb.

In contrast to MinWin, however, DSL offers a fully functional operating system including graphics engine and optional components such as a browser, email client and FTP server.