Microsoft outlined a roadmap on Tuesday for its next generation of operating systems. Code-named Whistler, the code base will allow computer makers and system integrators to easily strip away all but the necessary operating instructions for controlling task-specific appliances or handheld devices, according to Carl Stork, general manager of the company's Windows operating system division.
The new family of OSes, based on the Windows NT kernel and slated for release in data server, advanced server, office PC, and consumer versions, will be available to computer manufacturers sometime in 2001.
The release of the Whistler family of OSes represents the first time the popular NT kernel will be used in a consumer operating system. It will also spell the end of Microsoft's ongoing development of not only Windows Millennium, which is due to begin shipping in systems before the end of the year, but also the entire line of operating systems that work from the current Windows 98 and 2000 code base, at every level of deployment, from enterprise to small business, according to Stork.
"Because of hardware design cycles that can take over a year, Microsoft needs to share information about what's coming down the line to our system integrators in order to provide a smooth transition from one operating system to the next," Stork said.
But it's the ease in which the different versions of Whistler can be stripped down to the bare, essential code for simpler devices that has computer makers here at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) eager for its release.
Shipping in both 32- and 64-bit versions, the Whistler family will allow computer makers to take the raw code and remove from it anything not necessary for the operation of any one particular device, such as the graphics component for an application that will run on a "smart refrigerator appliance".