Of Cutler and kernels...

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There's a fascinating read over on Microsoft's site this weekend, looking at the life and works of Dave Cutler in the USA. The history of Cutler's achievements is fascinating reading, not least because the VMS operating system he created (and on which I cut my own computing teeth in the early 1980s) became the inspiration and model for Psion's EPOC, which then became Symbian, that dominated the smartphone world through the 2000s. And things then come full circle in mobile, since Nokia, dominant in Symbian then picked Windows Phone for its next generation smartphones for 2011 onwards. And Windows Phone 7 gave way to Windows Phone 8 and that brought everything back on the same Windows NT kernel and codebase that Cutler created twenty years before. In other words, Cutler's work impacts directly (under the hood, at least) on almost everyone who's owned a Symbian or Windows phone in the last 15 years, making the article well worth a read over a cup of tea.

If you're short of 20 minutes to read it then there's a six minute video, which is an easy watch:

There's also a slight tease in the wording of one paragraph. From the article:

Cutler stopped managing the entire NT project in 1996, but continued to lead the kernel development until 2006.  In March 2005, he completed one of his “most gratifying pieces of work” at Microsoft when, partnering with AMD, he helped develop the AMD64 architecture (64-bit extensions to the 32-bit x86 architecture) and led the effort to ship the first two x64 64-bit Windows systems (workstation and server).  At the time, some questioned why Microsoft developed a 64-bit system; today most computers are 64-bit systems and even our phones will soon have a 64-bit operating system.

The wording is slightly ambiguous (does 'our phones' still refer to Microsoft-branded devices?) but it does seem as though the next logical step for Windows 10 Mobile is a 64-bit variant, to be shipped in next-generation hardware in 2017. Perhaps.

Anyway, make sure you read through the complete piece, it's fascinating background on the smartphone industry and one of its biggest characters.

Dave Cutler at work

Source / Credit: Microsoft