Windows 8: MinWin and what it means for virtualization


A new report suggests that there are nearly 6,000 references to MinWin in an internal Windows 8 build. MinWin is the core of the Windows operating system that deals with the kernel, hardware abstraction layer, TCP/IP, file systems, drivers, and other core system services.

According to itworld: “In its essence, MinWin is the effort of reducing the Windows core to its absolute minimum by reducing all dependancies. Windows 8 will likely be the first OS to fully implement and use MinWin (unlike Windows 7, which seems to use only parts of it). Want more proof of this? From looking at the recently leaked Windows 8 build, MinWin seems to be MUCH more tightly integrated into Windows 8:”

Windows 7 only had 100 MinWin references while Windows 8 seems to have more than 1,000. So what does this mean? itworld suggests that MinWin will act as a thin layer of code with Hyper-V running as a parent partition. All MinWin files are apparently 20MB and offers an increase in performance with a reduced attack surface on hypervisor. This would make a big impact in the desktop and laptop market.

“The goal with MinWin, when it comes with Windows 8 if everything goes well, it is to completely disconnect these features that is to ensure that potentially they are not present at all. At this time, this will allow to have, for the desktop, the equivalent of a Windows Server Core… in the case of Hyper-V V3 on the workstation is the smallest possible, both in terms of potential attack surface in terms of memory footprint and rack space disk.”

With the recent leak of Windows 8 build 7989, those who were able to get their hands on this build were hard at work trying to discover any new hidden features and discovered Hyper-V 3.0 and the .VHDX virtual drive format.

Looks like Hyper-V 3.0, a hypervisor-based virtualization system for x86-64 systems, will allow us to see self contained AppV applications. If this is correct, and if Microsoft does include Hyper-V 3.0 in Windows 8, this could potentially make Windows 8 a huge game-changer when it comes to virtualization.