Operating Systems

Established: September 3, 2004

Exploring the base abstractions from which developers build applications and practical implementations of those abstractions in operating systems.

The Operating Systems Group is part of the Systems and Networking research area. The most important job of an operating system is to provide a context within which programs can be created and run. Our group conducts fundamental and applied research into the base abstractions to create this context. To make our work relevant, we build prototype systems to evaluate our ideas and to prove their implementation into practical systems.







Flat Datacenter Storage
Edmund B Nightingale, Jeremy Elson, Jinliang Fan, Owen Hofmann, Jon Howell, Yutaka Suzue, in The 10th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI '12), 10th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI 2012), USENIX, October 1, 2012, View abstract, Download PDF







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File Systems are Broken


June 22, 2009


Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau


Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison



Established: October 2, 2014

An Ironclad App lets a user securely transmit her data to a remote machine with the guarantee that every instruction executed on that machine adheres to a formal abstract specification of the app's behavior. This does more than eliminate implementation vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows, parsing errors, or data leaks; it tells the user exactly how the app will behave at all times. Our specifications, code, proofs, and tools for our projects Ironclad Apps (verifying the…


Established: September 19, 2011

Drawbridge is a research prototype of a new form of virtualization for application sandboxing. Drawbridge combines two core technologies: First, a picoprocess, which is a process-based isolation container with a minimal kernel API surface. Second, a library OS, which is a version of Windows enlightened to run efficiently within a picoprocess. Hardware-based Virtual Machines (VMs) have fundamentally changed computing in data centers and enabled the cloud. VMs offer three compelling qualities:…


Established: November 25, 2008

HAVOC is a tool for specifying and checking properties of systems software written in C, in the presence of pointer manipulations, unsafe casts and dynamic memory allocation. The assertion logic of HAVOC allows the expression of properties of linked lists and arrays. The main challenge addressed by the tool are (1) tradeoff between expressiveness of the assertion logic and its computational efficiency, (2) generic inference techniques to relieve users of annotation burden for large modules.

Experiment 19

Established: October 13, 2008

A skunkworks project in 2008/2009 to re-imagine the OS platform for Windows Phone. The prototype proved that Windows NT and the CLR could deliver better performance than Windows CE and the .NET Compact Framework on identical hardware. Within months of the completion of Experiment 19, Microsoft launched efforts to build what would become Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT for ARM tablets. Re-imagining the Windows Phone Platform In the fall of 2008,…


Established: July 9, 2003

OS and tools for building dependable systems. The Singularity research codebase and design evolved to become the Midori advanced-development OS project. While never reaching commercial release, at one time Midori powered all of Microsoft's natural language search service for the West Coast and Asia. "...it is impossible to predict how a singularity will affect objects in its causal future." - NCSA Cyberia Glossary What's New? The Singularity Research Development Kit (RDK) 2.0 is available for…


Established: January 16, 2002

Detours is a software package for re-routing Win32 APIs underneath applications. Under commercial release for over 10 years, Detours is licensed by over 100 ISVs and used within nearly every product team at Microsoft.


Established: July 12, 1999

Building an automated operating system for large-scale data centers hosting third party applications. The BIG project looked at the problem of completely automating the deployment and operations of hosted applications in large-scale data centers.  One grand challenge for BIG was to answer the question: "How do I take data center with 100,000 servers and turn it into a running instance of a internet-scale service like HotMail (and keep it running) without a human touching the servers…

Microsoft Research blog

Is a Safer Cloud on the Horizon?

A new technology called Haven could provide unprecedented protection for data stored in the cloud When you store data in the cloud, you entrust the cloud provider with your data. You essentially cross your fingers and hope the provider won’t leak the data, tamper with it, or leave it vulnerable to hackers or malicious code stored by others on the same machine. You take a leap of faith that the provider’s employees are trustworthy and…

December 2014

Microsoft Research Blog