Portrait of Galen Hunt

Galen Hunt

Partner Research Manager


I am part of the launch team for Microsoft Research New Experiences and Technologies organization (MSR NExT).  I am manager of the Operating Systems Technologies Group.  My current interests revolve around the evolution of application frameworks, operating systems, and security for the coming convergence of digital and physical systems.  Previously, I led the Operating Systems and Distributed Systems Group as Principal Researcher.

Recently, I explored the trade-offs between virtual machine monitors and OS kernels as ways to build new computing systems using Drawbridge. I spent 12 months in 2012 and 2013 implementing Drawbridge in Azure for some of Microsoft cloud services. Previously, I led the Menlo and Experiment 19 projects and the Singularity project. Experiment 19 was a skunk-works project completed in spring 2009 that demonstrated for the first time that Windows NT could effectively replace Windows CE as the core OS for mobile devices.  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.

In 2000, I co-founded the MSR BIG Project.  Ahead of our time, we discovered many principles of cloud computing five years ahead of Amazon.  Over 30 US Patents issued for the cloud computing technologies we developed.  During a leave from MSR to move these ideas into Microsoft products, I was the Group Program Manager for Windows Automated Deployment Services. My group created two of the core technologies for Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative: the Dynamic Data Center and the System Definition Model.

Before BIG, I was a Researcher in the Systems and Networking Group. I worked on the Millennium Project; Continuum, a distributed version of the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR); and Coign, a system that converted existing COM-based desktop applications into client-server distributed applications without access to application source code.  I’ve worked on running DCOM over System Area Networks (SANs), the Detours package for instrumenting Windows binaries, and a proxy device driver for creating Windows NT user-mode drivers.

As a MSR summer intern, I developed the prototype for the protocol and implementation for what became, after reworking by a cast of hundreds, Microsoft’s Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) and Windows Media Player.

I have Ph.D. (1998) and M.S. (1996) degrees in Computer Science from the University of Rochester, a B.S. (1992) degree in Physics from the University of Utah, and an A.S. (1987) degree from what is now Dixie State University.

While at the University of Rochester, I was part of Michael Scott’s Cashmere team developing fast Software Distributed Shared Memory (SDSM) systems on memory mapped networks. I also modified the GNU Compiler Collection Objective-C runtime to support full multi-threading.

Before graduate school, I lead software development at a small start-up, Software Migrations, Inc.. My greatest achievement at SMI was DPX, an advanced structure-mapping and data-migration tool. We rocked the tax-preparation software market by creating programs that automatically migrated tax records from one tax package to another. With just 5 people, we produced over 100 separate transfer programs each year and ate the lunch of everyone else in the business. It was an excellent experiment in leveraging automated software development tools.

As an undergraduate, I contributed to the Linux 0.11 text console driver. Before that, I created graphics libraries, applications, and compilers in C as a teenager.


Checked C

The Checked C research project is investigating how to extend the C programming language so that programmers can write more secure and reliable C programs. The project is developing an extension to C called Checked C that adds checking to C to detect or prevent common programming errors such as buffer overruns, out-of-bounds memory accesses, and incorrect type casts. The extension is designed to be used for existing system software written in C. Finding out…

Society of Devices Applications (SODA)

Established: March 25, 2015

We envision a future Internet of Things where every human-created artifact in the world that uses electricity will be connected to the internet. We are creating new experiences and technologies for the coming convergence of digital and physical systems enabled in this future.


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:…

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…























Link description

Large Scale Debugging


July 13, 2010


Judith Bishop, Galen Hunt, Ben Liblit, and Ed Nightingale



  • Don Porter (2009) created a user-mode version of the Win32k subsystem to allow complete Windows application isolation for sandboxing, legacy compatibility, and process migration.
  • Aaron Shulman (2008), prototype kiosk scenarios.
  • Ryan Braud (2007) prototyped kiosk authentication using a TPM.
  • César Spessot (2006) ported a subset of SQL to Singularity.
  • Mike Spear (2005) created an entirely declarative I/O device driver configuration system for Singularity.
  • Prince Mahajan (2004) wrote a number of device drivers and a transacted file system for Singularity.
  • Tom Roeder (2004) worked on Singularity’s application abstraction and installer.
  • David Oppenheimer (1999) built a distributed hash table on an unnamed research OS.
  • Rob Stets (1998) created a distributed DCOM-based implementation of the Win32 API called COP (the Component-based OS Proxy).

Professional Activities