There are well over 6,000 references to MinWin in the next major version of Windows, Windows 8, at least according to a recent news article from Softpedia. This is 60 times more than the amount of references to MinWin in Windows 7, which only has around 100.
But what is MinWin, you ask? It is the very core of Windows – but it’s not just the Windows NT kernel. MinWin is Microsoft’s effort “to create the smallest, standalone, bootable, core of Windows, that’s still usable,” says Marius Oiaga. This core of Windows contains the executive subsystem, memory management, networking, file system drivers, and of course the NT kernel, according to Mark Russinovich. That all means that the core of Windows (MinWin) makes no references to the rest of the Windows operating system as we know it, along with that MinWin can be modified without having any affects on the rest of the operating system.
Did I mention that MinWin is about 40MB? Softpedia mentions that work was being done to get it down to 30 to even 25MB – not bad.
It is no surprise that MinWin is becoming more and more significant (even though small in relation to the rest of Windows), especially with Windows coming to new form factors such as tablets.
I personally find MinWin fascinating because this shows that Microsoft is serious about having “Windows everywhere.” With MinWin being about 40MB it can be used on a slew of devices – tablets, media centers (televisions, set-top boxes, etc.), and even phones.
How awesome would that be for the next version of Windows and Windows Phone to be running under the same “core”? Even the next Xbox could use MinWin as well. The major difference between each of these would be pretty much the interfaces – which we can see all also starting to merge ala Windows 8 and the next Xbox Dashboard update. While there could certainly be differences in the API’s offered, they might not have to be either thanks to the .NET Framework – except for stuff such as cellphone features. This is all in my imagination, of course.
But still, just thought it was interesting…