With the announcement of Bill Gates’ planned departure, there was speculation as to the fate of some his pet projects including the perpetually elusive WinFS (“Windows Future Storage”) file system. Well, the other shoe has dropped and WinFS is no more per Quentin Clark’s post on the WinFS team blog (which is also what you get when you head over to Microsoft’s official WinFS Web page):
It’s these storage innovations that have matured to the point where we are ready to start working on including them in our broader database product. We are choosing now to take the unstructured data support and auto-admin work and deliver it in the next release of MS SQL Server, codenamed Katmai. This really is a big deal – productizing these innovations into the mainline data products makes a big contribution toward the Data Platform Vision we have been talking about. Doing this also gives us the right data platform for further innovations.
These changes do mean that we are not pursuing a separate delivery of WinFS, including the previously planned Beta 2 release. With most of our effort now working towards productizing mature aspects of the WinFS project into SQL and ADO.NET, we do not need to deliver a separate WinFS offering.
Since WinFS is no longer being delivered as a standalone software component, people will wonder what that means with respect to the Windows platform. Just as Vista pushed forward on many aspects of the search and organize themes of the Longhorn WinFS effort, Windows will continue to adopt work as it’s ready. We will continue working the innovations, and as things mature they will find their way into the right product experiences Windows and otherwise.
If you’re having a hard time parsing this, refer to Robert McLaws:
Ok, well what he actually said was they broke up the project across different products, and some day they’ll go into Windows, etc.
Hey, I chug the Kool-Aid from a freakin beer bong here, but even I have to say that Microsoft’s putting a PR spin on this albatross that probably isn’t going to fly. “it’s not dead… it lives on in productized form in Katmai!” Yeah, and Bob lived on to become Clippy.
Read McLaws’ whole post, because his major point is that WinFS was supposed to be a relational file system, not these two ancillary features. Touting the fact that you found these features in WinFS and are slapping them on SQL Server is rather like picking through a fast food dumpster and marveling that you found 2 French fries (my analogy, not his).
Of course, aside from the years of WinFS disappointment, it’s also had a pernicious effect on other Microsoft products. Microsoft’s Dare Obasanjo:
So that’s it, no more WinFS. This is the right decision, albeit two years too late but better late than never. It’s sad to think about the projects that got killed or disrupted because of WinFS only for this to happen.
The poster child for such a project has to be Windows Vista which had to drop WinFS in the famous Vista “reset” of 2004, despite it being one of the three original Vista technology “pillars.”
Update 6/26: More from Dare Obasanjo here.
Update 6/28: Quentin Clark has an revised announcement here.