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Mark Russinovich: On Working at Microsoft, Windows Server 2008 Kernel, MinWin vs ServerCore, HyperV,

41 minutes, 3 seconds


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I recently sat down with Technical Fellow and SysInternals founder Mark Russinovich to dig a bit into what's new in the Windows Server 2008 kernel. Of course, we talk about many things including HyperV, application virtualization, kernel architecture (not everybody defines an OS kernel in the same way - tune in to understand why this is the case. Mark has his own definition that may not be the same as yours....).

Recently, the MinWin project was in the press after a university video lecture by a Microsoft Windows architect was released on the net. Most people confuse MinWin with Windows Server 2008's ServerCore technology - the confusion stems from the incorrect assumption that ServerCore is a byproduct of the MinWin work. In fact, they are not at all related. Mark explains the differences and hopefully this will end the confusion...

Of course, Mark spends time on the whiteboard in this interview, drawing out the kernel architecture, explaining HyperV, touching on application virtualization (running client applications without having to install them locally - tune in to understand what I mean...).

Channel 9 is and has always been about showcasing the humans behind our technologies in addition to drilling into how we make our products, and of course why we do what we do (in a technical sense). Mark is a huge addition to the Windows family and his technical leadership is already being felt throughout buildings 26 and 43. Mark tells me about how life is going inside the Mothership, what a Techincal Fellow is (it's the highest level of engineering career stage at Microsoft), individual contribution versus management, and more.

As always, it's an honor and pleasure to spend time talking with Mark. He's one of our brightest technical minds and Windows architecture is in very good hands.



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  • This showing up just made by day. Big Smile The last interview with Mark is one of my top three favorite videos of all time on C9.

  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    TimP wrote:

    This showing up just made by day.

    What are the other 2?

    PS: This is a great conversation. Very deep in parts and very revealing. Perfect Channel 9 content. Mark is hero to many!
  • Stephan van StekelenburgAthemeX Here since the beginning
    I defenatly agree.. it is always great to watch Mark talk about interesting stuff.. he knows so much Smiley
  • Christian Liensbergerlittleguru <3 Seattle
    *downloading right now* Smiley

    This was really a cool and refreshing interview. I liked it!
  • Wonderful interview. Between them, .NET and Channel 9 are big factors behind my loyalty to the Windows platform. Great technology, great supporting tools and a second-to-none community. Dev Heaven Big Smile

    I wonder what C9 has lined up for us as we approach the end of the year?

  • Fantastic conversation Mark and Charles. Good job not bogging down on the complex points. Great job summarizing the technology!
  • figuerresfiguerres ???
    Great chat, I may have to run it a 2nd time as I had stuff going on the first time Smiley

    Mark:  can you please check on / possibly talk about:

    1)  64 bit WIndows on the desktop - for example the apps that would benifit from a 64 bit version but are not yet generaly published due to the lack of consumers with a 64 bit OS and the whole "chicken and the egg" thing, IE more OS and system boards would drive more apps etc....

    2) vitulaization of apps on the desktop -- say some corp has a clunky old DOS app they need to keep running or some other app that just will not play well with vista.  will the "Grid" stuff help ?  can we get a VM that runs the app in a window so it "just works" after setup so that the user does not have to know about using a VM ?

    3)  Virtual PC futures:  for example a lot of folks asked MSFT via connect for a few things that were not done and IMHO should be. for example some kind of better support for Video, I am not talking about a fancy GPU emulator for D3D but just a newer alternate to the old S3 support that creates issues for Linux for example.  also there are some issues for large displays > 1600x1000 and full screen , USB devices -- say I need to test an app that uses a USB printer that uses OPOS ( Ole for Point of Sale) seems that VPC can not handle that.

  • Tom ServoTom Servo W-hat?
    Since everyone's still harping about MinWin, here's an interesting question: Do we ever get a native text mode "server core"? As in no graphics mode, no window manager, no nothing, just that to keep the server core stuff running.
  • Would be more pleasant without Charles' frequent interruptions: "Excellent! Absolutely! Cool!"  Be quiet and let the man speak.
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    jonahb wrote:
    Would be more pleasant without Charles' frequent interruptions: "Excellent! Absolutely! Cool!"  Be quiet and let the man speak.

    Reactions aren't necessarily interuptions. It's hard to not react when having a conversation. These are not presentations. The camera starts rolling and a conversation happens - there is no plan, no script. When cool things are spoken of, I say cool or excellent as a natural response which is evoked in me as I am actively engaged in real conversation (which necessarily includes listening).

    Does this really interupt the conversation (that is, cause the interviewee to lose train of thought, derail the topic, etc)?

    I'll try to limit the use of these now-standard adjectives that have become almost involuntary responses to compelling information.

    Thanks for the feedback!


  • Don't sweat it. It's a dialogue and few will have something against the occasional superlative. It's not like it's a monologue and you have to exercise robotic silence. Scoble would have a tendency to disrupt the interview with long drawn out laughter, but other than that, I don't see anything wrong with C9 interviews. And the new experiments with you, a domain expert (Beckman) and another domain expert (*) is very appealing. So keep up the good work.
  • Joshua RossJoshRoss Drinking Ovaltine since 2004
    Hyper-V, SoftGrid, Terminal Services, and TS gateways are making it difficult for small developers to figure out how to license their software. I wonder if this rate of innovation will slow... Switching topics... As the windows ecosystem is becoming exponentially complex with time, especially on the bleeding edge, the number of mechanisms, that I can understand and leverage, are decreasing, in proportion to the total number of mechanisms. This is happening at a dizzying rate. It seems to make everyone at expert at something. And it allows us developers to get increasingly long job titles.
  • Excellent video, keep it up Mark!
  •        Great explaination of the the HV.  If all the other VMs rely on the OS in the root partion then there had better be extremely good control of the drivers in that OS. 
           What happens when monthly crits are released and the server core OS in the root partion has to be bounced? I guess you will have to take down all the guest VMs?
           Does anyone know if HV and server core will allow for a shared file system between multiple physical host (think VMFS)?
  • Hyper-V is interesting, we had a presentation in out faculty about that. But you need a really good computer to virtualize 2-3 machines on top of 2008 Server.
  • This is fabulous video , i want to know more about Windows Internals 5th edition.


    Does it cover for Advance users , or does it start from scratch ?




  • Windows Internals 5th edition is underway - we hope to have it out in November (see


    --David Solomon

  • blad3runn69blad3runn69 it is what it is...
    brilliant stuff. Thank you very much.
  • Thoughtware N.ZThoughtware N.Z Thoughtware N.Z.
    One might have hoped that Microsoft could produce a video of Mark in less than 700 plus megabytes .....

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