VMware co-founder predicts death of operating systems

According to this article, VMware co-founder Mendel Rosenblum predicts the death of the operating system. I once made a somewhat similar prediction, although at the time, I thought that it would disappear from view, not from existence.

Both positions are closer than it may appear at first. Rosenblum and I both predict the disappearance of the OS as somewhat irrelevant to the end user. Rosenblum thinks that it will become irrelevant because it no longer controls the hardware directly, its role being reduced to providing application programming interfaces to the applications. I actually agree with this point of view. Otherwise, I would not have initiated another virtual machine technology, HP Integrity VM, and still be working on it today. As a side note, when we started that project, we negotiated with VMware in general and Rosenblum in particular.

But I also stand by my other prediction, that operating systems also fade into irrelevance on the user side as well. This is not yet true for personal computer operating systems, but it is already true of the majority of operating systems we use today:

  • You probably don’t know what operating system the many electronics components in your car are running.
  • Similarly, the OS in your set-top box, in airplane entertainment systems, in your MP3 players and GPS devices are probably not very relevant to how you use these devices.
  • Finally, on a larger scale, the operating systems behind services like Google, the delivery of your e-mail or IP phones are also, I would bet, not part of your decision when choosing one service or another.

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