MinWin Core: 25MB on Disk and 100 Files

| by James Vastbinder on Oct 26, 2007. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

On October 13th at the University of Illinois Eric Traut first showed a version of Windows code-named Windows 7.  In the demonstration Eric allocated 40MB of RAM to the virtual machine and ran the stripped down operating system with 10 active processes taking up only about 33MB of RAM.   

The actual kernel of the new Windows version is claimed to be about 4MB in size.  Further reductions included for a minimal install:

  • 100 Files
  • 25MB in disk utilization
  • no graphical user interface
  • minimal http server
  • boot time of less than 20 seconds

When looking at statistics like this, speculation is rampant.  A common theory is that Microsoft is returning a single code base, but no official announcement has been made to date.  At present Microsoft maintains several versions of Windows with separate kernels:

  • Windows Server 2008 / Windows Vista
  • Windows Server 2003 / R2 / XP / XPe
  • Windows Server 2000
  • WinCE 4.x / PPC OS / Smartphone OS
  • WinCE 5 / Windows Mobile 5
  • WinCE 6 / Windows Mobile 6

A return to a single kernel code base would seem to be a logical next step.  Especially given the work being done in the Server and Tools division on the Phoenix project and a move to a single code generation platform. 

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funny counting by Stefan Wenig

if you count each released version of the same codebase, minwin is just going to increase the number of kernels ;-)

Academic, but Interesting by Geoffrey Wiseman

While this is certainly interesting, it's interesting in an academic way. Hard to say if this is just the next 'WinFS', fun to talk about, but ultimately unrelated to what gets released.

(Besides, we've see Microsoft try the single codebase thing before; they keep oscillating)

Re: funny counting by Jim Leonardo

It sounds like that's the idea... the beyond vista windows.

My question is: does this mean that Vista is ultimately destined for the same trash heap as WindowsME and MS-Bob? Or is it more of a Windows95 to Windows98 analogy? (i.e. run out vista to get the new thingy out there, make it stable and performant in the followup).

The other REALLY interesting bit is the code name. Since when do you "Code name" as product name/version? And there's the oxymoron... no UI, but lets call it windows?

What I want to know is why does James mixup versions and codebase in his article? Single code base would apply to a generation across server and desktop (such as a single code base for XP and Server 2k3), not across generations (i.e. Server 2000 and Server 2k8).


micro devices? by Erik Bengtson

is that a signal of massive deployment of windows in micro devices ? take care java

Re: funny counting by James Vastbinder

Jim -

I don't think Vista is headed in that direction. I don't have much insight and am providing my own prognostication here. I think the teams are looking to consolidate engineering efforts at the OS level, but I haven't been able to verify as the teams are not speaking to the public yet. Eric's demo is their first communication.

I was concentrating on the recent common theme to reduce competition among internal development teams in similiar solution sets. Recent MSFT examples would be WCF, Workflow Foundation, MS CRM, and Phoenix.


Re: micro devices? by James Vastbinder

Silverlight is an example of micro .NET. It's multi-platform and small compared to today's standards....

I don't see .NET as being ready as an OS at the micro device level at this time...

Re: micro devices? by Rudi Larno

Well, then you should check out the .NET Mircro Framework ( It has no need for an OS, and can just launch your .NET (C#) code. It can be as small as 250K (with minimal CLR libraries).

I no longer have a handle on how Java/Linux/etc. scales from chip to server farms, but Microsoft giving us developers the opportunity of writing in the same language, using the same tools, heck given some proper factoring of code, even running the same code on either a chip or a multi-core, multi-cpu, multi-server environment, is pretty cool. (hmmm, write once, run everywhere, where did I hear that slogan again?)

On the other topic, I know Microsoft attempted to get back to a single codebase during the Longhorn development, and they failed, having to move back to the Windows XP SP2 codebase. So a good number of core changes were cut. One of which was the rework to be done on the I/O subsystem, Windows is just to dependant on the disk, and it's the disk that ultimately makes Windows slow over time.

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