More news from the worst kept secrets of 2008 department - Microsoft has accidentally-deliberately let slip word of a would-be replacement for Windows, codenamed Midori.

According to Software Development Times, which uncovered the scoop from internal Microsoft documents, Midori (itself a development of software known about for some time, dubbed ‘Singularity’) will be ‘componentised’, and designed to exist as a virtualised entity. In OS-speak, that’s a sort of post-OS OS, an OS that exists in more than one place, can be run as a process from a separate OS or environment (the Hyper-V hypervisor for instance).

No explanation yet, beyond the conceptual framework and a few buzz-phrases, of how this post-OS OS will avoid the pitfalls of the current monolithic Windows, which is to say [name your pet Windows hate here].

As SD Times says: “According to the documentation, Midori will be built with an asynchronous-only architecture that is built for task concurrency and parallel use of local and distributed resources, with a distributed component-based and data-driven application model, and dynamic management of power and other resources.” I’m glad that’s clear then.

Here’s my ignorant interpretation of what this might mean. Midori will be a sort of Hyper-V client whose services can be called (subject to connection) from any one of a variety of devices. The OS will assemble itself in virtualised form as and when needed, to the extent needed. Yay!

Microsoft has been in this field before, most infamously in 1995 with something they’d rather forget called ’Bob’. In those days, the issues was not so much the architecture of operating systems as the problems of the Windows interface, which had barely evolved from its launch in 1983. Nobody worries about that any more.

Midori is either a research project that might go nowhere or an attempt by MS to make itself look relevant in a world that appears to be evolving beyond the model it created and has mined profitably ever since – proprietary software. That model looked powerful in that it generated huge amounts of cash to put into ever more software products, but it’s now under stress.

Windows is seen to be struggling not just because it’s degenerated into a problem under its own weight of code, it’s that it can’t evolve fast enough. The open source mindset is better adapted to simplicity, rapid development times, and re-use by third-parties to build new apps in months not years, even if it doesn’t always lead to better products.

Perhaps Microsoft has clocked all this and Midori is an admission that the software on the device isn’t where the future profits will come from. Hyper-V is starting to look more important by the day.