Microsoft Is Using Linux Kernel In Windows 8

ZDNet’s Mary Jo today wrote an interesting article about why Microsoft is keeping a tight lid on the Windows 8 test builds. Earlier such builds were leaked by OEMs or employees to give users an idea of what was coming. This time Microsoft has taken extra measures to ensure this version of Windows doesn’t fall in wrong hands.

The company specifically wrote:

“Unauthorized use or disclosure in any manner may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment (in the case of employees), termination of an assignment or contract (in the case of contingent staff), and potential civil and criminal liability.”

However, there are some leaked copies available on the Chinese torrent site We were able to grab a copy of Windows 8. The file was 20GB large which expanded to 50GB after installations. It is actually a 3boot OS which can run on old PCs, Linux PCs and Macs. The OS is expected to run on Nokia tablets as well.

This build also disclosed why Microsoft was so tight-lipped about Windows 8. Microsoft is using a fork of Linux kernel in this version. The OS was fast and detected all our hardware — a clear indication of Linux’ presence. We found further evidences when we looked at the changelog. There were patches by Greg-KH in the kernel log, which verified that Microsoft is in fact forking the upstream kernel tree. There was a message by Linus Torvalds which Microsoft engineers forgot to remove:

Anything else? I’m sure I’ve forgotten something really exciting. But on the whole I think this should be one of those “solid, boring progress” releases.

Knock wood. I like boring.

~ Linus

When asked about this alleged copying or piracy, Microsoft Strategist Miguel De Icaza wrote on his blog:

There are hundreds of possible answers as to why someone would copy someone else’s work. For instance, perhaps I am a better implementor than an inventor.

That being said, it can be argued that implementing a system that is compatible with something else has a lot of value. You get to reuse knowledge, you get to reuse experience and you get to focus your efforts in new directions, instead of redoing things from scratch.

About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

4 thoughts on “Microsoft Is Using Linux Kernel In Windows 8

  1. it would have been a great MS move for the desktop, as Apple moved to FreeBSD some time ago and then all the fanboys converted their believes to nix.

    In fact it is not fiction MS have just done it but unfortunately not at desktop, that now is a secondary market, they did it at the actual primary market: the mobile

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