Why is India’s Defence Ministry ditching Microsoft Windows for Maya OS?

  • India’s Defence Ministry has decided to replace the Microsoft Operating System (OS) in all its computers that can connect to the Internet with Maya, an Ubuntu-based OS built locally.


  • The new OS is currently being rolled out only in the Defence Ministry computers, and not the three Services.
  • While the Navy is said to have cleared Maya for use in its systems, the Army and the Air Force are still evaluating the software.
  • Maya has been developed by Indian government agencies within six months, and it is aimed at preventing malware attacks by cybercriminals who are increasingly targeting critical infrastructure and government agencies.
  • The new OS will be backed by a protection system called Chakravyuh.

Differnce between Maya and Microsoft OS

  • While the two operating systems provide a platform for the user to interact with computer hardware, Maya and Windows differ significantly, both in terms of cost and build.
  • Windows is a commercial software sold by Microsoft for a license fee. It is the most widely used OS, and is easy to install and run.
  • Devices powered by Microsoft’s OS run on the Windows NT kernel.
  • A kernel is the core of an operating system. It runs on a computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) and gives the device instructions on how to perform specific tasks.
  • Prior to building the kernel architecture, progammers used to run codes directly on the processor.
  • In the 1970s, Danish computer scientist Per Brinch Hansen pioneered the approach of splitting what needs to be done by a processor from how it executes that task, thus introducing the kernel architecture in the RC 4000 multiprogramming system.

Design specifications

  • This design was monolithic, meaning a single programme contained all necessary codes to perform kernel-related tasks.
  • This architecture provided rich and powerful abstraction for the underlying hardware. But it was also large and difficult to maintain as the lines of codes ran in the millions.
  • Limitations in the traditional architecture led to a new kernel design called the microkernel.
  • This design broke down the monolithic system into multiple small servers that communicate through a smaller kernel while giving more space for user customisations.
  • This change allowed developers to run patches easily without rebooting the entire kernel.
  • It did have some drawbacks like larger running memory space and more software interactions that reduced the computer’s performance.
  • Windows runs on a hybrid kernel architecture which is a microkernel design coupled with additional codes that help enhance performance.
  • Apple’s MacOS also uses a hybrid kernel called XNU.
  • And Ubuntu, a Linux OS that was used to build Maya, runs on monolithic architecture.
  • Linux versions are called “distributions” or “distro”, and they comprise free and open-source software.
  • In fact, Android is also based on the Linux kernel.


  • India’s switch to the Ubuntu-based Maya OS comes at a time when cyberspace is increasingly becoming vulnerable to malware and ransomware attacks.
  • Such cyber threats arising from proprietary software are once again making global governments look to free and open-source software (FOSS) to develop their own OS.
  • Apart from cybersecurity, the reason behind this move is to assist IT modernisation efforts that are underway — like digitising government services and making them interoperable.