Microsoft’s long-time vision of uniting all its hardware under one operating system is coming soon. In an article by Peter Bright, he writes about the details of Microsoft’s road towards Windows OneCore.
Since the early 1990s, when Microsoft broke away from its shared OS/2 development effort with IBM in favor of its own Windows NT, the Redmond firm has been pitching the idea of Windows as a platform that scales from palmtops and handheld computers all the way up to large servers. Spanning the entire range of systems would be the Win32 API, offering developers a single set of tools and skills that could reach systems of any type.
Back then, this plan was enormously ambitious. Nowadays, Windows Server has carved off a substantial portion of the server market with both Windows itself and other products such as SQL Server, Exchange, and Hyper-V. But in 1992 when the Windows Everywhere ideal was first described, Windows NT hadn’t even had its initial release. Microsoft had no presence at all in the server space, and this domain was instead occupied by Novell Netware and various kinds of Unix. There was no presence in the workstation market, either. Windows 3.1 and DOS were used for PCs, but high-end machines used for serious computing tasks like CAD and engineering were, once again, Unix. Microsoft had an eye on the early forays into novel form factors such as pen-driven computers, but again, no product to actually run on them.
By the late 1990s, Windows Everywhere was a bit more concrete, but it relied on a broader concept of what it meant to be “Windows.” Windows NT was the “real” Windows. With native support for SMP, this was the platform that could scale from single-processor desktop systems up to large, multiprocessor servers. It was the operating system that had the complete, definitive implementation of the Win32 API. It was also Microsoft’s system built with an eye on the future. It was written as portable, platform-neutral C so that it could scale to different processor architectures should something ever rival x86’s dominance.
The summary of the article is there has been an astonishing amount of parallel development happening at Microsoft over the years. We are now seeing the evolution of Windows as one operating system for all hardware known as Windows 10.