|The Rise Of Rust - Windows 11
|Written by Mike James
|Wednesday, 03 May 2023
You can't put a good language down and Rust seems to be getting everywhere. Not content with infiltrating the Linux kernel it is now burrowing into Windows 11 and the Linux user space.
Rust is a language that we all hope is more secure than C - which isn't a difficult aspiration. The latest news is that Microsoft is planning to use Rust in Windows 11 and not just the peripheral apps but in the "kernel". In a talk about Windows security, David Weston, Vice President, Enterprise and OS Security revealed that 36 thousand lines of Rust code are already in Windows 11 and the Win32 GDI graphics driver passed all tests after being rewritten in Rust. It also seems that it runs as fast as the original code.
As security is a major selling point of Window 11 this makes good sense. You can't run Windows 11 without a TPM security chip, but all that goes to waste if the code that is running has vulnerabilities. Unfortunately the need to make external calls means that there is a lot of "unsafe" code - 271 unsafe blocks and counting.
What is really interesting is that Rust isn't C++.
In case you have missed it, the fact Linux is a C operating system and Windows is a C++ operating system - roughly speaking. The fact that most of Windows is written in C++ has caused some problems over the years. The reason is that C++ brings with it a number of associated technologies - notably COM. The COM runtime object system integrates well with C++ because it was designed from a C++ point of view. Other languages, such as C#, invented ways to avoid COM and all its technical complexities. However, in the end the C++ groups won out and Microsoft sidelined .NET and all its associated technologies.
The surprising part about Rust not being C++ is that it isn't really object oriented. It "looks" like an object-oriented language, but it really only adds some features to achieve that look. Rust has things that look like like objects and methods, but it doesn't have inheritance and it does things differently. Can we really believe that the C++ zealots in Windows are ready for something so different? Will there be a backlash?
Microsoft has been interested in Rust for some time, but now it looks as if things are moving on. With Rust in Linux and Android this only leaves Apple as a hold out.
You can see the complete talk below, but be warned the part about Rust only occupies the last ten minutes or so:
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|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 May 2023 )