Linux-based Windows. Once again the donkey to the wheat

Linux-based Windows

Last year Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, Computer World columnist had u proposedn Windows 11 based on Linux. A few days later Microsoft made announcements that disproved it. This year it is the turn of a history of the open source movement. Eric S Raymond be the one imagine that Windows will become a kind of Wine, that is, a bridge between Windows applications and the Linux kernel.

En a post notes that Microsoft's core business has changed since Azure was introduced, Its product line of solutions for the cloud, today Azure constitutes its main source of income, while the sale of desktop computers are falling. From there he takes the theoretical leap and comes to the conclusion that Windows will stop making profits and will turn into losses.

Here I have to make a couple of clarifications. The fall in the sale of desktops (and notebooks) not only stopped, it was also reversed due to the pandemic. And, there are other devices that Windows can be installed on.

Last year Microsoft introduced the Surface Neo tablet with the Windows 10x operating system

Windows 10x is Windows 10 optimized for dual-screen and foldable devices. It is based on Windows Core OS (WCOS)

Windows Core OS is a set of basic Windows components standardized to work on different types of devices. It is a combination of parts of OneCore OS, the UWP / Web and Win32 application packages, and the C-Shell compiler.

Did you see the word Linux anywhere?

Other arguments of Raymond are the next Linux version of the Edge browser and that its developers are collaborating with patches for the Linux kernel that will improve the compatibility of Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)

Linux-based Windows. Why I don't believe in that possibility

Edge is based on Chromium and, Chromium is a project that has a Linux version. Given that Microsoft is trying to bring customers to online services like Microsoft 365, Edge integrates seamlessly with those services and, as we said most of the work is already done, it would be absurd not to carry it. We are not talking about the Linux version of Word.

Regarding WSL, their goal from the beginning was to give Linux and open source programmers an incentive to use Windows and Visual Studio. In other words, the opposite direction to what Raymond goes.

The next fact that you add to the salad is Proton. This is a Valve project that allows Windows games from the Steam store to work on Linux.
Says Raymond:

The thing about games is that they are the most demanding stress test possible for a Windows emulation layer, far more so than business software. We may already be at the point where Proton technology is good enough to run Windows business software on Linux. If not, we will be soon.

Proton is still a modified version of WINE, and there are programs like Kindle Create or the Kindle for Windows reader itself that it is impossible to run under WINE. And we are not talking about overly complex programs.

In closing, he wonders what a corporate strategist at Microsoft would do and concludes that they would seek to turn Windows into a Proton-like emulation layer on top of a Linux kernel. This layer would be reduced over time as Microsoft developers add more patches to the Linux kernel.

According to him, the advantage for Microsoft is that it would shed an ever-increasing fraction of its development costs.

The grand finale he imagines is Microsoft decreeing the end of the lifespan of Windows emulation and software vendors ceasing to create binaries for Windows in favor of Linux-compatible software.

I'm probably the most pro-Microsoft of Linux Addicted columnists. Even so, I am perfectly clear that the company with open source is not love, it is business. They may only release maintenance versions of Windows in the future, but they will not give up on maintaining it.

The market seems to be heading for cloud-based services and Chromebook-like devices replacing desktops and notebooks. In that context it makes sense to port Edge to Linux but not other applications that work well in the cloud like Microsoft Office. There may be a Linux-based Edge OS, but Windows isn't going away.

Most likely, Microsoft will try to attract Linux users to its cloud applications, and in the event that the market again prefers locally installed software, attract them back to Windows.


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  1.   Pedro said

    Microsoft's business today is not with consumers.

    They have been treating people for 50 years as if they were companies and it will cost them as many as many to change.

    Do you want to change? Why don't they just dedicate themselves to companies?

  2.   Carlos Fonseca said

    I also think that the new Microsoft is like the old one:
    Hug, extend, extirpate.

  3.   Andrew said

    I think that Windows lost the battle with Chrome OS to be based on the cloud and it should be dedicated to the GAMES category, which is the only thing that WINDOWS is for.

  4.   Claudio said

    Microsoft has long been faced with a dilemma. Maintain the compatibility of your products under the current model (which implies keeping the security and operational problems current) or take a risk and give a radical cut to a unix-like kernel. Just as Apple did at the time. History tells us that he prefers to make "gradual" changes. We saw it previously, when I release Windows 8 only so that the user "got used to" certain ways of working (it is not the only case). But little by little we have seen how it advances in that sense, since the days when I bought a boiler. Today you can see how, for example, Windows is migrating to a graphical server to manage its interface. Something that in the unix world has always been traditional. Which will facilitate possible migration tomorrow without losing much "compatibility". Since you have to be honest. The only thing that really keeps Windows running is the software catalog that runs on top of it. And that's something that Redmond is clear about.
    Personally, I think it will be a long and winding road before that final step. But anyone who has been in this field long enough will realize that with each new version of Windows, a new functionality of the Unix world is added. Although they rename them with a new name for marketing purposes (such as the active directory and mobile profiles).
    And it will be a long road, because there are too many millions at stake. And history teaches us that companies that lose their "leadership" rarely regain their leadership and end up disappearing into the annals of memory. But ask any of the new generations if they have heard of Wordperfect, Lotus, etc.