Microsoft Midori Promises Data, Devices in Harmony

Nearly two years ago, I reviewed internal documents about Microsoft’s plans to design and develop an entirely new operating system called Midori. While I am uncertain about the exact state of the project, bits and pieces of the Midori vision are emerging in the company’s latest technologies.

Owning a PC was once a big deal; now it’s common for multiple computers to reside under one roof. Today’s households are filled with PCs, Pads, and Pods–devices that are loosely synchronized and loaded with apps. Information and applications are getting distributed, with many pieces working in parallel. Midori is intended to support exactly that kind of distributed application architecture, and Microsoft assigned some of its top talent to support the project.

In 2008, I wrote for SD Times that Microsoft foresaw “applications running across a multitude of topologies, ranging from client-server and multi-tier deployments to peer-to-peer at the edge, and in the cloud data center. Those topologies form a heterogeneous mesh where capabilities can exist at separate places…” Microsoft also observed that, “today, users move across multiple devices, consume and share resources remotely, and the applications that they use are a composite of local and remote components and services.”

It’s still early in that shift, but technology is lagging behind what consumers need. Conventional operating systems like Windows are woefully inadequate to support applications that span multiple devices let alone distribute tasks and data among those devices and with the cloud. Writing those types of applications also requires a break from the past. Microsoft’s current technologies are laying the groundwork for that break to occur.

The latest .NET languages make it possible to write distributed applications that can be managed by an operating system like Midori, Silverlight can run on a variety of devices (Windows 7 Phone apps are written in SilverLight). And the Windows Azure platform is a possible deployment channel for a new type of cloud OS. I go into greater technical detail in an SD Times article published today.

Let’s be clear, your world isn’t going to change overnight, and Windows as we know it isn’t going away anytime soon. But the computing experience that spans multiple gadgets will get a lot more seamless once technologies such as Midori arrive. The devices will be different, big or small, but you’ll be accessing the same applications, and your data will be everywhere that you are. Why should you have to sync your pads with your PCs or phones? That’s like owning a car that requires you to get out and push.

When Microsoft holds its mystery event next week, allegedly to introduce new phones, take a hard look at what services it has made for those devices. Chances are that more of what you do on your handset will be offloaded to the cloud.

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