Facebook is Working on Its Own Operating System

Posted on December 19, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Social with 51 Comments

Facebook is working on its own OS, and original Windows NT team member Mark Lucovsky is leading the charge.

“We really want to make sure the next generation has space for us,” Facebook VP Andrew Bosworth told Techcrunch, explaining the firm’s move into operating systems. “We don’t think we can trust the marketplace or competitors to ensure that’s the case. And so we’re gonna do it ourselves.”

According to Wikipedia, Lucovsky is now Facebook’s General Manager of Operating Systems. After leaving Microsoft in the wake of the failure of .NET My Services (previously “Hailstorm”), he worked at Google and then VMWare before joining Facebook. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer had infamously thrown a chair across his office when he heard Lucovsky was leaving Microsoft for Google and promised to “[email protected]#$ing kill” Google for this transgression.

Building a new OS in 2019—whatever that means—seems beyond pointless. But Facebook has apparently wanted to do this for some time, and it’s probable that co-founder Mark Zuckerberg feels that he’ll never measure up to industry luminaries like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs unless he does so. Facebook, of course, infamously tried to field its own smartphone in 2013 and failed miserably.

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Comments (51)

51 responses to “Facebook is Working on Its Own Operating System”

  1. martinusv2

    Great, a full spying OS from Facebook.

  2. carlmess

    I'm sure security will be the central point...

  3. rm

    Will it automatically update your location on your Facebook status as you go through out your day. Maybe tell you when friends running the Facebook OS are nearby.

    Not thinking I will ever buy/use this OS!

  4. wbtmid

    Weed is now legal in California.....

  5. mattbg

    I can forgive them for being all "me too" if this is just a new skin on top of Linux.

    If it's a brand new operating system then they are out of their minds if their target market is the same as that of Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Is there really anyone who loves and trusts Facebook so much that they'd want it at the core of their everyday lives? To me, a Facebook OS would be the very definition of hypervisor malware.

    I guess that is the point - Microsoft and Google with their own operating systems ARE at the core of everyday lives and they see activity patterns that Facebook never sees.

    So I understand why they want that data about what people do, but I don't understand how Facebook would sell this to people unless they start handing out free laptops and phones. Or maybe, like would have been the aim with Libra, they are going to do exactly that and target the developing world.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to mattbg:

      If it's a brand new operating system then they are out of their minds

      Not least because it'd take years to work out the bugs and gain any traction. NT4 was the first widely used Windows version not running on top of MS-DOS, and there were a few 3.x versions before it while MSFT worked out the kinks.

      Which leads to the next question: what application software would this run? Little more than game and restaurant review apps tied into Facebook? A consumer OS needs to handle at least kids' homework assignments, so would this come with something like Works? Or would such apps need to be web apps like Office Online or Google Docs? A Facebook equivalent of a Chromebook would seem to be a niche within a niche, and good luck getting schools to adopt them.

      As for the activity patterns MSFT may see, if true and MSFT could monetize even presumably anonymous usage data/activity patterns, so much for its disinterestedness vs Google.

  6. PeterC

    Hmmm they really do want to own all your data dont they.

  7. eric_rasmussen

    They've done a good job with Oculus. It's an unpopular opinion but I think a consumer oriented OS to compete with Windows 10 would be nice. Microsoft kind of gave up on it to focus on Azure; some competition would do them some good.

  8. hrlngrv

    On what hardware would FBOS run? FBOS? Give it a cuter name, maybe Bossy.

    The first OS designed with user data collection in mind. What's not to love? Think of all the malware which would become redundant when there's a key logger built into the OS?

    If measuring up is the goal, I wish Zuck luck becoming the next Gary Kildall.

  9. anderb

    It would have been worth mentioning that they're doing it to avoid having their own VR hardware (i.e. Oculus) tied to Android.

    This omission and the reference to Windows NT member Mark Lucovsky makes it sound like they're building their own desktop OS which they're clearly not.

  10. Winner

    Absolutely no thank you.

  11. Dan1986ist

    Don't most applications either run on NT based or Unix based operating systems? And if this Facebook OS comes into being, will there be developers creating applications or porting applications to the new OS? Unless this is going to be a non NT or unix-based kernel.

  12. christian.hvid

    Judging from the article Paul linked to, Facebook is not looking to create a general-purpose OS to compete with Android or Windows. This is all about hardware - Facebook doesn't want its device business to be dependent on third-party software, particularly not third-party software from competitors. So they cook up their own embedded OS, for use in their own devices, just like Samsung is running Tizen instead of Android in their smart TVs. Makes perfect sense to me.

    As for privacy concerns, Facebook devices running Android or Linux could just as easily collect personal data as Facebook devices running FBOS. You're just going to have to trust that Zuckerberg has your best interests at heart (sorry, kidding).

  13. codymesh

    just how lost is this company right now?

  14. Stooks

    I predict it will be less successful than their currency.

  15. mixedfarmer75

    The only thing more scary is Google making an operating system.... Wait a minute.... Never mind.

  16. murray judy

    The system APIs will have a Like parameter,

  17. craigb

    "Building a new OS in 2019—whatever that means—seems beyond pointless." It sure does!

    • SenorGravy

      In reply to craigb:

      Couldn't disagree more. I'm waiting for somebody on this side of the Pacific to build an evolution of the phones like they have in China where people pretty much do EVERYTHING in apps like Wechat. At some point, having an OS in some ways becomes irrelevent.

  18. reefer2

    Well Lucovsky is a extremly competent OS-developer not only from the NT team but also from Vmware and Google so they hired the right guy for the job, for sure.

    But no, develop your own OS from scratch makes zero sense today, its just too costly and too time consuming to no avail.

    My bet is that they end up ripping a Linux distro and put their own GUI on top of that, just like all Android makers do.

  19. Omen_20

    They'll build the creepy directly into the kernel.

  20. Jerome36

    Hard pass!

  21. awright18

    I don't think developers want to have to deal with yet another operating system. If its basically on top of android then maybe that would make sense from a developer point of view. They'll have to have some compelling offering for this to make sense, and OSes like other platforms will die without killer apps and platform specific apps don't make too much sense, you limit your market, so seems like a futile investment.

  22. basic sandbox

    Linux is great but it is easier to muck up than Windows or Mac. I've always wanted someone to create an alternative OS or a simplified/supported Linux that was secure, hard to mess up, and had the best privacy practices. I was hoping to hear someone like HP have an OS intiative like this.

    I never would use a Facebook OS.

    • MikeGalos

      In reply to basic sandbox:

      I'd like somebody to actually create an alternative OS that's actually not just a rehash of an OS with a decades old architecture. And, yes I'm including the 1993 Windows architecture as well as the 1969 *ix architecture everybody else builds on.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        At the risk of seeming like a Luddite, using a metaphor, we have pistons, rotary/Wankel, and turbine engines, now all decades-old, and possibly exhaustive of possible internal combustion engine types. How many novel ways of scheduling tasks and managing storage have been designed in the last decade? In contrast, there are lots of news file systems, and Linux can use most of them while Windows seems shackled to FAT and NTFS.

        As for all the interest in Unix & derivatives, is there any architecture text for anything else comparable to Bach's The Design of the UNIX Operating System? Sure it's decades old, but is there anything comparable AND PUBLICLY AVAILABLE for any other OS?

      • Jackwagon

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        It's kind of funny if you think about it; pretty much everywhere else, Silicon Valley is criticized for reinventing wheels, but all the companies seem content using the same (or similar) OSes from the last few decades, rather than developing a new one.

        Reasonable people can differ on whether this is a good thing, but it's certainly an interesting break from the usual pattern of "move fast and break things".

  23. Chris_Kez

    It seems pretty clear that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about Facebook, per se; he is not passionate about making Facebook the best social networking experience it can be. That product seems like only a means to an end. He wants to wield influence and power, make money and build a legacy as a tech titan.

  24. olditpro2000

    I saw this article title in my RSS reader and literally said, "What?! Who would ever use it?" Unless this is only for Facebook internal use.

  25. doon

    What a perfectly awful idea. But it does have the added benefit of being a great money-waster as well. Would have liked to be at that meeting: "I know, let's create our own OS!".

  26. m_p_w_84

    I don’t think the future has a space for Facebook whatever they do.

  27. Aurand

    Next thing you know they’ll want to try making phones.

    From their perspective though they’re probably concerned about iOS and Android implementing privacy features they can’t get around.

  28. jeff.bane

    Excellent. I for one would want an OS by Facebook on every device I own.


  29. jimchamplin


    No, seriously, are they insane? Unless it's simply for internal use as OldITPro2000 mentioned, it's going to be the next Ubuntu Phone or Firefox OS.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Digging deeper elsewhere, looks like it'd only be for their VR headset. If so, as significant as any other way out of the mainstream product using a proprietary OS for a particular embedded system.

  30. robert_wood

    So Google sells Chromebooks and Facebook can sell "Facebooks."

  31. techguy33

    On Windows Weekly Paul asked would could possibly be less appealing from a privacy standpoint than a Google checking account. Well, the answer is a Facebook OS