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Is it a viable option to switch to operating systems1 written in some managed language (C#, Java, Managed Assembly) in the near future? Maybe not for the desktop platform, but for embedded devices and gaming consoles?

What are the pros and cons of such a large conceptional switch?

1 Managed OS-es such as Singularity or JNode.

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What would run the virtual machine that the managed OS would in turn run on? –  Stefan Thyberg Jul 15 '09 at 14:14
@Stefan We would probably see some sort of hardware/firmware "hypervisor" style VM performing this function. –  Marc Reside Jul 15 '09 at 14:17
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Since nobody seems to want to tackle this question, I'll take a shot at it.

In the "near future" (let's say 10 years) this will only happen if one of the major OS flavors puts a lot of weight behind the idea. Specifically, I think for a Managed OS to get any traction, Microsoft will have to take their Singularity project and incorporate major aspects (and a managed code base) into their main Windows line.

That being said, I think that this is a possible (though unlikely) direction that the OS market could drift to in the next 50 years, depending on what the technology and hardware requires from an OS, and what the customer base is interested in.

I say "unlikely" because at the moment any advantage given by using a "managed environment" can be simulated in a "good enough" way by all major unmanaged environments. Consumers don't "need" a managed environment at the moment, and nobody is trying to build up reasons to drive consumer demand.

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Thank you. I should constantly remind myself not to ask academic level questions. –  kd304 Jul 15 '09 at 16:38
It's an interesting thought, but a lot of the ideas involved are not important from a basic user or even superuser's perspective. Instead, the ones most affected are those designing around the ideas and those supporting the initial Managed OS constructs. –  Marc Reside Jul 15 '09 at 16:43
Thank you again. As it seems the topic is uninterresting for the masses, I accept your answer. –  kd304 Jul 17 '09 at 18:19
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I suspect that these sorts of managed environments will be more and more likely to appear in server virtualization and cloud services where process isolation can be very important rather than on desktop systems, gaming devices, or embedded platforms.

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The chief benefits to a "managed OS" are a slightly better security posture and portability. Unless the CPU market gets to the point where it becomes profitable for device manufacturers to consider completely switching CPU architectures in the middle of a product's design lifetime in the pursuit of lower device costs, I don't see managed OS's really being seen as necessary on embedded devices/game systems. For this to happen, CPU interfaces to things like memory and I/O would have to be standardized across CPU architectures, or a super generic "multi-CPU" chipset would have to appear on the market. I don't see CPU manufacturers ever agreeing on this for any reason, but you never know.

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