Cairo (operating system)

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Cairo was the codename of an unreleased software project by Microsoft, intended to bring next-generation technologies to Windows NT. The project was originally announced at the 1991 PDC (Professional Developers Conference) and later demoed at the 1993 PDC.

SKUs[change | change source]

Three different retail SKUs were planned for Microsoft Cairo, all aimed at the enterprise market:

  • Cairo Advanced Desktop would include the core OS, new user interface, and networked storage/printer sharing. It was designed as the client for Cairo Servers.
  • Cairo Advanced Server would be a superset of Advanced Desktop that would additionally include all the server roles, as well as domain services, networked messaging, and management tools.
  • Cairo Design Environment would be intended for developers to build Cairo-friendly applications, including a Smart Folders SDK, authoring tools, design tools, debugger, documentation, and Visual Basic for Applications.

Windows NT 3.1[change | change source]

  • DCE RPC implementation (Remote Procedure Call, allows inter-machine or inter-process procedure calls, for example, to use with distributed computing)
  • COM (Component Object Model, a standardized communication model meant to be used with RPC)
  • OLE (Object Linking and Embedding, allowing files from one app to be embeddable and editable in other OLE-compliant apps)

Windows NT 3.5x / 4.0[change | change source]

  • Cairo OFS (Object File System, a relational filesystem meant to replace NTFS)
  • Cairo OFS Indexing (metadata system for OFS, later turned into Content Indexing and Windows Desktop Search)
  • Cairo Domains (based on x.500 Directory Services, later turned into Active Directory for Windows 2000)

Windows 95 / NT 4.0 / other[change | change source]

  • Cairo User Interface (later turned into the Windows 95/NT 4.0 Shell)
  • Cairo Messaging (based on x.400 Messaging Services, later turned into Microsoft Exchange)
  • Cairo Smart Folders (would later influence Windows 7 libraries)

List of known builds[change | change source]

Build list legend

# Available build

i Confirmed build

? Unconfirmed build

x Fake build

References[change | change source]