A successor to the Microsoft Windows operating system, while still very much in the theoretical stage, is expected to better leverage multicore processors, for starters, according to a Microsoft official.
Speaking at The Venture Forum conference, Microsoft's program manager for external research programs in the Microsoft Research group, Bryan Barnett, said multicore architectures were of particular interest when weighing what to put in future operating systems at the company.
"Taking full advantage of the processing power that those multicore architectures potentially make available requires operating systems and development tools that don't exist largely today," he said.
Windows will currently run on multicore processors, but is not fully optimised for them, according to Barnett.
"It's not a question of just running on a multicore architecture. It's a question of what do you do to fully exploit the capabilities there," he said.
There is no timetable for a Windows successor right now. But early work on this effort had not yet been organised, with five or six small projects afoot in various places throughout the company, Barnett said.
Finding a DOS successor in the early 1990s seemed a simpler task, he said.
"Somehow, it was easier when the company was smaller a long time ago," Barnett said. "Merely having size and resources isn't necessarily in this instance an advantage.
For now, Microsoft plans to release its next major version of Windows, Windows Vista, in 2007.