MICROSOFT HAS revealed that it has moved to building the Windows operating system almost entirely using an open-source GIT environment.
Yep. Closed source operating system built on open source software. Couldn't make it up, could you.
The decision, first announced in February, is now almost fully implemented as the centrepiece of the company's OneCore project, aimed at unifying different strands of Windows development in a single path.
90 per cent of Windows engineers have made the switch with the other 10 per cent expected to join by the summer.
This will, theoretically, lead to the mythical beast that is Continuum finally working properly, though it doesn't signal a solution to the Android developer integration that was abandoned because it was proving uneconomically problematic.
After outgrowing SourceDepot which previously housed its development needs, Microsoft has had to overcome the challenge of combining the 65 different repositories that have been housing Windows of late.
Even GIT has had to be customised to handle the 300GB and 3.5m files that need to be stored, through a mixture of algorithm improvements and a level of elasticity to stop the whole thing grinding to a halt under the weight of demands being placed on it.
The result is the Git Virtual File System (GVFS) which differentiates between what files are available locally and what aren't and ignores the ones that aren't bringing a git status command down to 9 seconds from potentially hours.
At the moment, there are 8,500 commits and 1,760 builds every day, with that figure only set to rise as the system gets even more bedded in.
Some eyebrows may raise at the ideas of open source washing closed source, but it's worth remembering that Microsoft will have been obliged to donate their customisation to the community, and having Microsoft as a contributor is a pretty big deal.
Additionally, there's proxy servers constantly cloning roughly every 25 seconds thanks to some big fat Azure bandwidth, so location of the engineer doesn't mess things up too much.
We may even see other tech giants start to collaborate on this type of project, as they all have their own issues.
The final switch-over for Windows engineers in the summer isn't the end of the story. Once that's all in hand the next stage is to move the rest of Microsoft over to Git. µ
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