MS Concurrency Guru Speaks of “new operating system”

If you are interested in high-performance programming on Windows, you know the name Joe Duffy, whose book Concurrent Programming On Windows is absolutely top-notch.

Today he posted an intriguing notice on his blog “We are hiring.” Check out some of the things he says:

My team’s responsibility spans multiple aspects of a new operating system’s programming model…. When I say languages, I mean type systems, mostly-functional programming, verified safe concurrency, and both front- and back-end compilation….All of these components are new and built from the ground up.

Huh. I’ve argued before that the manycore era requires a fundamental break in OS evolution. Every aspect of the machine has to be rethought; the fundamental metaphor of a computer as a von Neumann machine with, perhaps, a phone line to the outside world has been strained to the breaking point. Forget “the cloud,” we need to think about “the fog” — a computing system where every resource (including resources outside the box at which you happen to be typing) can be accessed concurrently, securely, and virtually.

I don’t think that the OS for the manycore era can evolve from any existing desktop OS. That’s why I think that the “Windows 7 vs. OS X vs. Linux” debates are short-sighted and even the “Windows vs. iOS vs. Android” debates are only skirmishes to determine who has the money, mindshare, and power to eventually win the real battle.

It needs to be said that Microsoft has lots of incubation and research projects whose results either are left to wither or are watered-down and incorporated into mainstream products. But the involvement of a top non-academic thought-leader makes me hopeful that Duffy’s project may have a bright future.