OneCore to Rule Them All

Peter Bright at ArsTechnica has the detailed and fascinating story on how Microsoft came to have a single kernel for all Windows devices: OneCore. So far, Microsoft is the first in the consumer operating system space1 to achieve this feat:

Microsoft can now credibly speak of having one operating system (with Windows 10 as its most familiar branding) that can span hardware from little embedded Internet of Things devices to games consoles to PCs to cloud-scale server farms. At its heart is a slimmed down, modularized operating system dubbed OneCore. Windows 10, Windows Server, Xbox 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 10 IoT, and the HoloLens operating system are all built on this same foundation.

It took a long time to reach this point. Along the way, Microsoft built three major operating system families, killed two of them off, and even reorganized the entire company. In the end, all that action was necessary in order to make building a single operating system practical. Apple and Google will probably do something similar with their various operating systems, but Microsoft has managed it first.

This is an incredible feat, particularly that this was accomplished while still maintaining Microsoft’s sometimes extreme levels of backwards compatibility.

OneCore comes with initial benefits for Microsoft and third party developers; however, consumers will reap the benefits indirectly in the long term:

Perhaps the biggest gains, for both developers and users, come from unexpected new platforms. When the first work on MinWin was started, nobody could have imagined that one day HoloLens might exist. But with the OneCore platform, adding support for this new hardware becomes relatively straightforward.

The past decade has been an incredible period of technological innovation, with the next decade looking just as bright as all of the technology companies fire on all cylinders. I can’t wait to see and be a part of what comes next.

  1. Yes, technically Linux was first — by a long shot. Let’s be honest though: Linux has negligible market-share and impact on the consumer desktop market; its dominance is on server and, arguably, embedded systems.