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WinFS Gets the Axe 610

commander salamander writes "Over at the WinFS Team Blog, Quentin Clark states that Microsoft no longer plans to ship WinFS as a standalone software component. Instead, portions of the underlying technology will be included with the next release of SQL Server (codename Katmai) and ADO.NET. Does this spell the end for the true relational storage paradigm that Microsoft has been promising since Windows 95?"
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WinFS Gets the Axe

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  • an amazing promise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yagu ( 721525 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ugayay>> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:35PM (#15598190) Journal

    How long has the promise of WinFS been on the table? Microsoft has dragged this teaser on 10-lb test in front of drooling long-time loyalists as the newest and amazingly innovative piece of their "best OS ever". Aside from the fact it really wasn't amazingly innovative (well, in vernacular maybe it was), now they're close to closing the door on this. I wonder how many sales they've pulled off with these lies?

    HINT: Here's a snippet from an October 2003 PC World article [pcworld.com]:

    On top of the fundamentals, Longhorn features three major innovations. It sports an XML-based visual presentation system, code-named Avalon; a new file system, dubbed WinFS; and new technology for communications between applications and devices, code-named Indigo.

    Microsoft may not have thought they were lying at the time but they must have had an idea they not only weren't on target but they weren't even close! It's amazing a company can get away with this -- call it genius marketing, I call it deception at all costs to keep their customer base intact.

    Sometimes these outcomes seem to say more about the Microsoft loyalists than Microsoft.

    • by archen ( 447353 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:40PM (#15598208)
      How long has the promise of WinFS been on the table?

      I don't know, but if this has been circulating at least since NT4 days and Duke Nukem Forever comes out first - which might actually freaking happen, that tells you something.

      And I don't think that something has anything to do with MS being an agile.
    • by marco13185 ( 888912 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:44PM (#15598219)
      Of course, what do you think the whole Vista release is? It's windows XP + more CPU and RAM usage. Nothing special or useful. It's pretty pitiful that developers being paid 6 figures work at a slower pace than volunteer open-source developers. It also fits into Microsoft's motto: Less Later. Just like Halo 2, one of the most anticipated games was out years late and really sucked.

      Microsoft will always do this, just like Vienna (Fiji, whatever) is supposed to be a complete re-write, bullshit. They'll probably just add some crappy RAM and CPU hogging features and call it inovative.
      • by pallmall1 ( 882819 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:34PM (#15598405)
        They'll probably just add some crappy RAM and CPU hogging features and call it inovative.

        Don't forget the DRM, or the dollars added to the price.
      • It's windows XP + more CPU and RAM usage. Nothing special or useful

        Unless you count the new start menu, the "sleep" mode (suspend to hibernate), the 3d-based Aero Glass, the "everybody's a user" security model, the sidebar, the new XPS print system, the bundle of included apps, the new WiFi networking model that can remember which security settings for which network, the new "Performance Statistcits" page on the computer management, and few hundred changes I haven't noticed yet. (Oh, and there's 64-bit sup
        • Rehash of XP (Score:5, Insightful)

          by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:47PM (#15598668) Homepage

          Unless you count the new start menu

          How is this fundamental? Stardock's WindowBlinds has been offering the ability to create a custom start-menu for years.

          the "everybody's a user" security model,

          Microsoft had the ability to implement this in Windows XP. They've supported Limited User Accounts since Windows 2000. Its a change in default user settings, not an earthshaking new security model.

          the sidebar

          Does Google Desktop [google.com] ring a bell? How about ObjectDock? [stardock.com]

          the bundle of included apps

          Oh, you mean new skins for Minesweeper, Wordpad, and Solitaire? Or do you mean 3-d chess? Last I heard they weren't even including a basic office suite. For a 7-gig disc, I expect more.

          Face it, Vista includes little that's especially new, even for Microsoft.

          • Re:Rehash of XP (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mikeisme77 ( 938209 )
            I agree with my sibling. While, I personally, won't be upgrading to Vista because I don't see enough advantage to it for me, I think it is a huge improvement over XP (plus I also have a MacBook with OS X and my desktop has Ubuntu and Linspire on it--so I have all the modern OS features I need) in terms of what's included out of the box and everything else. I don't think it's anything new--in that regard I agree with the parent (it's all just stuff borrowed from OS X and Linux). Since many home users (and bu
        • by Nexum ( 516661 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:00PM (#15598702)
          Most of these things that you mention are fixes to sub-par elements of the OS. These aren't new innovative things to be excited about, these are basic functions that any OS would be embarrassingly incapable without, in short, the things you mention are the ante to just keep playing in the next-gen OS game:

          - The new start menu is not an enhancement, just more functionality glummed into an 11-year old UI device stretched way beyond breaking-point.
          - Sleep mode is something Windows should have had half a decade or more ago, it's practically a goddamn necessity with a portable.
          - "Everybody's a user" security - a huge flaw with Windows that is finally seeing some action, unfortunately looks like there's plenty of tuning to be done before it actually works.
          - The sidebar - seriously, you're excited about a technology you can already have (Dashboard, Konfabulator etc.) and implemented in a boring, unimaginative and sceen-hogging way?
          - Print system - I'm not qualified to comment
          - Bindle of included apps - such as... ... Windows Movie Maker? Windows Mail? You can't say that with a straight face surely!?
          - WiFi networking which remembers the settings of each wifi network you connect to - um... come on, 6 years wait for THIS?
          - "Performance Statistcits" - god, go download one of the dozens of benchmarking apps... why does this make you want to buy Vista at all?
          - 64-bit support - seriously, it needs this to even be in the game, it's not some special feature to trumpet above any other OS, it's an absolutely basic necessity.

          The only thing you mention which IS slightly exciting to those watching Vista is the new compositing system, Aero. Which will allow some nice effects and finally decent non-flickery, back-buffered drawing to sceen.

          Talk about scraping the barrel, these things that you seem so excited about - they're nothing but the absolute basic necessity to even have the OS worth considering in 2007 when it may be released. Where are the things that make you really excited about the OS, the things that make it special? The things that elevate the experience of using the OS rather than a tick-box driven nightmare of minimum-level-of-attention-to-detail copy-cat features.
        • by Ajehals ( 947354 ) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:22PM (#15598759) Homepage Journal
          Of all the features that I have seen or heard of that are supposed to be in the final incarnation of vista I cannot find one that is not either 1) a tweak, 2) something already available in either Mac OS or Linux or 3) A fix of something that is broken in XP. In short Vista is not at this point coming across as innovative. Actually if I think about it it appears that its Microsoft playing catch up.

            Even Aero isn't innovative, I've been playing with Sun Microsystem's Project Looking glass and whilst it doesn't do a lot for me (it makes my laptop an interesting talking point when giving presentations....) and it feels like something dumped on top of the OS to make it look like a major change.

          I cannot see corporate users migrating to Vista for any real reason, even the "new" security model isn't going to be a winner there as it will break any application that through lack of proper design requires admin rights (and there are a few out there).

          As for it being the biggest change since the 3.11/95 upgrade Im confused how you could even relate the two. Windows 95 was a totally different user experience from Windows 3.x. This isn't. If you look at the last real upgrades for home users (excluding DOS and whatever interface was thrown over it (buttons for DOS anyone?) it was windows 3.11 to 95 for a huge difference in usability, 95 to 98 for a massive boost to hardware support and management (in my opinion anyway) and then 98 to XP for the benefits of NT (After all I don't know many home users who got their hands on 2000 and I discount ME as it was appalling...).

          I see no innovation and no reason to upgrade if you are still using Windows. As far as RAM and CPU usage, Well Im not sure I am fairly confident that you could get Vista slimmed down to normal XP performance, but then I can get XP to perform quite well, it just takes a lot of effort. Realistically though Vista is going to be on a new PC or you are going to have to upgrade something (probably add more RAM or upgrade your graphics card rather than upgrade your CPU but still.)

          The really sad thing is that 6 months after the launch there will be a huge number of users, and why? because its the best OS? because its worth upgrading to? because its more secure? No. It will have a user base because it comes pre-loaded on N number of new PC's.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:57PM (#15598845)
          Unless you count the new start menu

          You've got to be joking if you're counting this as a major new feature. Wow, it's a Windows logo now and it has a search field ala Spotlight.

          the "sleep" mode (suspend to hibernate), the 3d-based Aero Glass, the "everybody's a user" security model

          Aero Glass isn't "3D-based," it's still a 2D interface but is hardware-accelerated ala OS X circa 2002. Sleep mode and non-admin privileges aren't exactly new features for non-Windows users. In fact, Vista introduces a kludgy hack to get pre-Vista apps to work that expect admin privileges, by emulating a virtual filesystem in the background.

          the new XPS print system

          Which won't be included by default.

          the bundle of included apps

          You mean Calendar, Photo Gallery, and other OS X clones?

          the new WiFi networking model that can remember which security settings for which network

          Ala OS X.

          the new "Performance Statistcits" page on the computer management

          A performance stats page. That sure requires an entire OS update to get.

          Vista is easily the biggest change in Windows since the 3.11 / Win95 upgrade.

          This is just not true, and it's MSDN marketing crap. Windows Vista is the same old Windows (based off Server 2003 code) with a visually updated shell (more plastic highlights!), some new APIs, and some internal changes to security, drivers, etc.. Windows 95 was a major update that removed DOS from the user experience and introduced a new Windows interface. The transition from Windows 98 to XP was the biggest transition of all. For users, Vista is just XP with plastic highlights and security changes.

          Or you could get a Mac and have everything Vista will claim to have, today (some of it dating back to OS X circa 2001).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:48PM (#15598238)
      They announced they were cutting it from Vista (then known as Longhorn) in August 2004 - http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/188339_msft cuts28.html [nwsource.com].
      • Incorrect..... (Score:5, Informative)

        by kaiwai ( 765866 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:52PM (#15598832)
        They announced they were cutting it from Vista (then known as Longhorn) in August 2004 - http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/188339_msft [nwsource.com] cuts28.html.

        The original announcement then was that WinFS would not ship in the RTM of Microsoft Windows, and instead, it'll be offered at a later date, as either a seperate download or part of a service pack.

        The new article says that they won't ship it at all, not even as a seperate download.

        So lets recap, it goes from being included to shipping seperately to not shipping at all.

    • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:58PM (#15598274)
      Hell, it makes you wonder if they had an idea they weren't going to ship even as they demoed WinFS at TechEd just two weeks ago.

      And just think, enterprises rely on this company's OS, which is so internally complicated that its own developers call it "broken." It's amazing the economy came to rely on a company so unreliable.
      • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:31PM (#15598609)
        It's amazing the economy came to rely on a company so unreliable.

        Microsoft isn't unreliable, not when viewed from the proper perspective. Microsoft is almost one-hundred-percent reliable when it comes to pulling the wool over the eyes of gullible customers, which they have managed to do to a customer base numbering in the hundreds of millions. That kind of reliability doesn't just happen, you know. It takes true dedication and an unwavering belief in one's own rightness. Ask yourself just how many politicians would give their left testicle to dissemble with such awe-inspiring efficiency. When someone can perform some complicated task with the appearance of effortlessness, it is a sign of true competence in action. With Microsoft, lies and deceit come so naturally one has to believe that one is in the presence of greatness.

        Of course, if they'd focused even a fraction of that effort to the end of producing reliable software, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Granted, in the past several years they've improved substantially, but that still leaves untold millions of copies of Windows 3.1, '95 and '98 to be explained.
    • by Silverstrike ( 170889 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:06PM (#15598301)
      How many articles have we read that tell us that the boys over at Redmond lack organization? There's the famous story about the two Office development teams that built two versions of Office with incompatible file formats, because neither team knew about the other. There's all the stories about managers being forced to lie to make time table deadlines.

      Now, all of that boils down to one simple thing: The left hand REALLY has no idea what the right hand is doing. What makes you think that their marketing team is any different?

      Its easy to point the finger and cry that they lied, but is it really a lie if they didn't know any better?
    • But Microsoft has always done this. Every OS version they've ever released was preceded by years of promises, many of which ended up being completely false and misleading, or at the least, poorly-thought-out or overly optimistic.

      Let's face it: Microsoft's best product, from a marketing point of view, has always been the version they haven't released yet.

      Meanwhile, other companies, in and out of the open-source world have already delivered everything in Vista, and everything that Microsoft promised but wil
  • Perhaps... (Score:5, Funny)

    by LaminatorX ( 410794 ) <sabotage&praecantator,com> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:36PM (#15598195) Homepage
    Maybe it was supposed to be "WhenFS?" (FP?)
  • Of course it has (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:41PM (#15598209)

    If they didn't put back WinFS, they couldn't use it as vapo^W a feature of their next product. And when that product comes out, they'll push it back to the product after that, just like they've been doing for the past seven or eight years or so.

    WinFS is the perpetual motion machine of vapourware. They are constantly promising it for their next product, but they never seem to deliver. That doesn't stop $NEXT_PRODUCT from being compared favourably with the competition because of WinFS by PHBs though.

  • Hehe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <slashdot.uberm00@net> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:41PM (#15598212) Homepage Journal
    Their structured, indexed filesystem that operates much like a database, will be released with their database software!

    Is it just me, or does that sound slightly redundant?
  • Carry on.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:45PM (#15598225)
    a. WinFS had difficulty functioning over a network
    b. Microsoft's target customer is business
    c. Businesses use networks

    Therefore, WinFS would not be suited for business usage, making it unimportant.

    Hey, if everyone wants to bag on Microsoft not making a next generation file system, what is stopping Linux and the Open Source community from doing it? Oh, that's right- it's easier to just complain about MS than to actually get your hands dirty. Nevermind then, carry on.
    • Re:Carry on.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:57PM (#15598273)

      a. WinFS had difficulty functioning over a network
      b. Microsoft's target customer is business
      c. Businesses use networks

      Therefore, WinFS would not be suited for business usage, making it unimportant.

      You misspelt making it a really bad design decision.

      Hey, if everyone wants to bag on Microsoft not making a next generation file system, what is stopping Linux and the Open Source community from doing it?

      The open-source community does have innovation in their filesystems. Take a look at ReiserFS or ZFS for example.

      • Re:Carry on.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fabu10u$ ( 839423 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:13PM (#15598329)
        Google has a video [google.com] of Hans Reiser talking about his vision of the Holy Grail of file systems, rather similar to what Microsoft has been promising. The difference is that he's moving toward it in baby steps (Reiser1, 2, 3, 4) and releasing those steps as he goes.
    • It's easier to bitch about a movie then it is to make one, but Battlefield Earth is still a shitty movie. What the hell does the Open Source community have to do with Microsoft hyping a feature for the last four years, promising its delivery, then LYING and not shipping it? Honestly, if that's your only defense, it may be time for you to re-evaluate your devotion to this company.
    • Re:Carry on.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LaminatorX ( 410794 )
      Another way of looking at it: a: Businesses use networks b: Microsoft's target customer is business c: WinFS had difficulty functionning over a network Therefore Microsoft's design methodology is so deeply flawed that they couldn't architecht themselves out of a paper-bag. I mean really, can you imagine a filesystem designed in the 21st century that doesn't have networking as a major design proirity?
    • Re:because (Score:3, Insightful)

      by guruevi ( 827432 )
      Linux already has different filesystems that have implemented the "features" of WinFS for decades. Take ReiserFS, JFS, EXT3... they are all journaled database-like systems. Even some engines in MySQL can do what WinFS wants to do. What Windows REALLY needs is native support for said filesystems, so they can go on with the rest of the world.
      • Uhhh no. (Score:5, Informative)

        by flithm ( 756019 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:14PM (#15598563) Homepage
        I'm a supporter of open source software as much as the next guy, and I wish what you said were true, but it simply isn't.

        Reiser, JFS, and EXT3 are definitely journaled, and they do allow metadata to be stored with files, but they're NOTHING like what was intended with WinFS. And in all actuality WinFS doesn't really count as a filesystem per se, at least not like the ones you mentioned.

        WinFS sits on top of NTFS, and is nothing more than an abstraction layer. It lets you do potentially crazy things like (and I'm making this up, purely for example purposes): "SELECT * FROM documents WHERE type IS image AND SOUNDSLIKE ohhhyeaahh"

        If you're curious what WinFS is all about give the wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] a read.

        The closest comparison (I can think of) to WinFS in the open source world (which one would argue is already better since it's not total vaporware) is Gnome Storage [gnome.org]. There's also GnomeVFS, and the creators of the now defunct BeOS had a wonderfully similar BFS that supported relational style queries. There's probably tons more that I'm not aware of as well.

        I predict we'll begin to see more and more of these abstracted file system layers in the future, but they're no replacement for (and will be useless without) an underlying filesystem architecture like Reiser, XFS, NTFS, etc, etc.
    • Re:Carry on.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lesrahpem ( 687242 )
      Hey, if everyone wants to bag on Microsoft not making a next generation file system, what is stopping Linux and the Open Source community from doing it? Oh, that's right- it's easier to just complain about MS than to actually get your hands dirty. Nevermind then, carry on.

      What Microsoft uses, FAT32 and NTFS, are ages behind file systems like ResierFS (especially reiserfs v4) and even Ext3, both of which are OSS projects and have been in use for years now.
    • Re:Carry on.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by eviltypeguy ( 521224 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:42PM (#15598809)
      what is stopping Linux and the Open Source community from doing it? Oh, that's right- it's easier to just complain about MS than to actually get your hands dirty. Nevermind then, carry on.

      Actually, there is an open source community helping to develop a next-generation filesystem right now. In fact, it's already being used in production environments! It's called ZFS, and you can find out more about that community here:

      http://www.opensolaris.org/os/community/zfs/ [opensolaris.org]

      What is ZFS you ask? Find out here:

      http://www.opensolaris.org/os/community/zfs/whatis / [opensolaris.org]

      ZFS highlights include:
      • Pooled Storage Model
      • Always consistent on disk
      • Protection from data corruption
      • Live data scrubbing
      • Instantaneous snapshots and clones
      • Fast native backup and restore
      • Highly scalable
      • Built in compression
      • Simplified administration model

      Overviews of ZFS technology can be found here:

      http://www.sun.com/software/solaris/zfs_learning_c enter.jsp [sun.com]
      http://www.sun.com/emrkt/campaign_docs/expertexcha nge/knowledge/solaris_zfs.html [sun.com]
  • Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:46PM (#15598229)
    Does this spell the end for the true relational storage paradigm that Microsoft has been promising since Windows 95?

    Yes. As Mini-Microsoft puts it [blogspot.com]:

    Aspects of WinFS are being rolled into other products, WinFS is going away, and that grand relational-filesystem is going back into ivory-tower incubation. Great. So how much money and cross-team integrated innovation randomization did we invest in WinFS?

    Is this why Mark Zbikowski left Microsoft (for those that wonder why I keep bringing up MarkZ: he had been with the company for over 25 years. Only Bill and Steve have been at Microsoft longer. His departure: mmm, kind of big. The silence about it, internal and external, is weird, to me.)?

    WinFS now joins a series of other broken promises from Microsoft. Interesting that just two weeks ago, they were demoing WinFS at TechEd. At this point, I'm really surprised customers don't treat this as flat-out lying on the part of Microsoft. Overpromise and never deliver. This company is a sinking ship.
    • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's the opposite extreme of tight-lipped Apple, who get criticized for not providing a clear roadmap*.

      Whether this dropping of a major technology is due to inability to implement or typical MS marketing strategy (don't buy our competitor's product, wait for ours!) doesn't matter at this point; MS has been overtaken and it's only a matter of time before the world completely passes them by.

      At one point, I thought Linux-on-the-desktop had a limited window of opportunity to reach the point where ordinary peopl
  • ReiserFS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase ( 533448 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:51PM (#15598252)
    And meanwhile ReiserFS [namesys.com] on Linux provides much of the functionality today that WinFS only promised for the future.
  • by _Pablo ( 126574 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:54PM (#15598263)
    From what I remember the funky file system was the last piece of the Cario product/suite of technologies to need to ship since Allchin announced it in 1991. Sadly for Allchin, they were unable to deliver on the last great promise of Cario before he leaves, and the poor guy waited 15 years for it too.
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:55PM (#15598266)
    Windows Vista has now been renamed Windows XP Service Pack 3. More at 11!
  • Be (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LaminatorX ( 410794 ) <sabotage&praecantator,com> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:57PM (#15598271) Homepage
    What's really sad is that BeOS had a woking usable dbFS TEN YEARS AGO!!!! I bet Visa idles more RAM and CPU resources than an BeBox had to begin with.
    • Re:Be (Score:3, Funny)

      Well, the BeBox had what, 2-66 MHz processors and 64MB of RAM? That's a fraction of a Vista compatible video card...
    • Re:Be (Score:3, Insightful)

      I was a BeOS user (and hobbyist developer) and really liked BFS, but it can't really be compared to WinFS which (if ever completed according to specs) will be an entirely different beast, much more advanced than a simple file system with custom attributes. The same goes for those who imply that the Spotlight equivalence (what a joke!) or ReizerFS are anywhere near being comparable.
    • Re:Be (Score:3, Interesting)

      Be had an amazing OS.

      the system managed to remain snappy and do blazingly fast searches even on my 132mhz system with 112MB of ram in it running off a zip disk and playing half a dozen mpegs simultaneously on a 3d cube, rotating in real time.

      i'm seriously upset that their style of process management and file system has still not been implemented properly in any other OS. why is it that no vendors have managed to pull that off even on machines that are 30x faster?

      and, as a side note... the devs had a real se
    • Re:Be (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Julian Morrison ( 5575 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:08PM (#15598535)
      Be had an easy target - a one-user no-security OS written from scratch in a single implementation language with zero legacy anything, and no particularly harsh IO or uptime demands.
    • Re:Be (Score:3, Funny)

      by rampant mac ( 561036 )
      "I bet Visa idles more RAM and CPU resources than an BeBox had to begin with."

      I loved BeOS and all and I hate saying it, but a factory Windows install from Dell probably has more applications running in the XP system tray than the total applications that were available for BeOS.
  • enrich? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:00PM (#15598280)
    Why do microsoft bods keep using the term 'rich' to descibe their technology?

    Most notably, how is it that they seem to apply it to technology that never gets to the production stage.

    It's almost as if they feel it aboo to admit that their technology is untested, nay imaginary.

    I don't care if they have some in house code. If it isn't in circulation, it's not technology, it's a unproven concept, and definatelly not 'rich'
  • by imbaczek ( 690596 ) <imbaczek@poczta. ... minus herbivore> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:04PM (#15598294) Journal
    Duke Nukem WinFS Edititon
  • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:11PM (#15598323)
    "Copland is to Mac OS 8 as Longhorn is to Vista" seems to be becoming more true every day.

    Though it was promised as a fundamentally ground up re-invention (Pink, Copland, System 8), the Mac OS 8 product that was actually shipped was mostly a cosmetic upgrade with the bits of the promised technologies that could be made to work. The new graphics architecture became a new font subsystem. The new document archicture (without developed parts making use of it) became a built-in web architecture. System wide document content searching became better file finding. The goal became to try to keep whatever anticipation was already built but jettison the "hard problems" of making it actually work in the ways that were promised. Tell everyone that Feature X has evovled into something beyond what we had ever anticipated rather than the world passed us by while we were shooting for an old target.

    It may be that Microsoft still has the inertia to pull off an almost completely cosmetic update, but it's going to get pretty ardurous environment on the development teams. After all, the goal isn't going to be to even ship a feature reduced product. It's going to be to ship cosmetic filler that covers up the need for what was really promised. Maybe Blackcomb or Fiji or whatever it's called now, will become a stage for the proper solution, but that's a very big IF.
    • by LaminatorX ( 410794 ) <sabotage&praecantator,com> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:33PM (#15598403) Homepage
      I do think that OS 8 had one thing going for it that Vista wont:

      The combination of a significant increase in the amount of PPC native code in the System & Finder's internals and an improved 68k emulator meant that lots of people's computers performed faster than they did with the previous release.

      MS will accomplish that feat shortly after they cure the common cold.

    • by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:38PM (#15598631)
      "Copland is to Mac OS 8 as Longhorn is to Vista" seems to be becoming more true every day.

      I hate this analogy because it's completely free of any context to the business situation. When Apple was talking up Copland, they were getting their profits killed by Windows 95 systems, and they badly needed an OS with basic modern features like Preemptive Multitasking and Memory Protection [both of which you left off your list].

      Windows XP needs a fair amount of refinement, but it doesn't really need a Copland/OSX style major upgrade. [What you call a "real solution" ... to what problem?] Microsoft took it upon themselves with all these "Apollo Program" scale features that nobody was really asking for, and they couldn't really deliver. IMO, they would be much better served with sorter, more incremental updates to XP much like Apple has been doing with 10.2/10.3/10.4/etc, and just integrate these things when they're ready.

      Anyway, nobody called Apple's Quartz "a cosmetic upgrade" when it came out, and Vista still has the more advanced Avalon imaging model, so perhaps you should pull back on the hyperbole.
  • by Enrique1218 ( 603187 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:24PM (#15598379) Journal

    Does this spell the end for the true relational storage paradigm that Microsoft has been promising since Windows 95?"

    Absolutely not! Apple will someday invent it and Microsft will copy it.

  • by PAPPP ( 546666 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:35PM (#15598410) Homepage
    Anyone remember BeFS [wikipedia.org] it came out in 1996, supported most of the "difficult and innovative" features WinFS was advertized to have, and WORKS. Its not quite relational, but it has extensive indexed metadata that makes it act as if it were. There's an open-source reimplimentation [bug-br.org.br]. Be, Inc. really did have some great technology, pity they couldnt make a buisness of it.
  • by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:39PM (#15598422)
    Always thought this would happen. Not only was the original concept of WinFS pretty difficult from a technology point of view, but people at Microsoft suddenly thought: "Hang on. If we deliver a rich database storage engine integrated into Windows then that threatens the existence of SQL Server." This is confirmed quite adquately by this:

    "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."

    Notice the word 'productising' (productizing for you yanks). Productising here means "Why give this away for free in Windows where it would actually threaten the existance of SQL Server when we can just bundle it into the next release of SQL Server and charge people more for the *new* features?!". This is confirmation, if ever it were needed, that WinFS is totally dead as a Windows component. You're not going to be able to tag your files, or 'objects, with metadata and search for it seamlessly along with new integrated and built-in Windows file management support out of the box in Windows. Unless of course, you cough up for SQL Server and maybe even some client license add-ons into the bargain.

    I also really, really love how every Microsoft employee has it drilled into them from an early age that any decision made, in reality for the pure benefit of Microsoft, is actually a decision made for the benefit of customers and as a result of extensive customer feedback! This is so deeply embedded in them I'm sure they believe it themselves now:

    Today I have an update about how we are delivering some of the WinFS technologies. It represents a change to our original delivery strategy, but it's a change that we think that you'll like based on the feedback that we've received....It's great technology and we are super-excited to be productizing this way. And most importantly, it's what people have been asking for - as we work with customers, we're constantly hearing that they want many of the technologies to be more broadly available in the data platform products. That feedback was taken seriously."

    Yer. Especially where it means more money for us.......
  • by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:40PM (#15598424)
    The fact is, what they are trying to do hasn't really been done before. AND, they're trying to tack it onto the enormous pile of legacy code that is Windows.

    I wonder if the problem of integrating it into Windows itself stems from the fact that next to ZERO file formats that are currently in widespread use by the computing world know anything about "metadata", which is kind of key to the whole "SQL as a filesystem" concept.

    Plus, I've always wondered how they thought all that metadata was going to get there in the first place. Most users don't even bother to name their files properly (e.g., every folder is named New Folder), and now they're expected to *decribe* them, too? Doesn't seem likely.
    • by qbwiz ( 87077 ) *
      MP3's have ID3 tags, and JPEG's have EXIF data, while some other formats could have metadata extracted automatically from them. You're right, however, that in most cases getting good metadata will be a lot of work.
      • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:41PM (#15598648) Homepage
        MP3s which were ripped from your own CDs have good metadata, if the information was put in by the ripping program. If you download them from the internet, well, let's just say there's varying quality. Then there's images with EXIF data that have lots of good meta data like shutter speed, whether or not the flash was used, and when it was taken. Unfortunately, it can't tell you what is in the picture. That is the most important piece of data. I think MetaData is dead on the personal computer, because nobody wants to be a data entry clerk. People just find it easier to put their files in an organized place, so they can find them later. People don't want to spend hours entering data.
  • I thought "WinFS" meant "Windows File System", but I just checked Wikipedia and it actually means "Windows Future Storage". Well, if it is ever released, it is no longer in the future, right? It's like "Duke Nukem Forever": if it ever gets released, you're no longer waiting forever...
  • Vista has leprosy (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrCopilot ( 871878 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:43PM (#15598439) Homepage Journal
    Does Vista have software leprosy?

    From the almighty Wiki:

    * WinFS is the codename for a planned relational database layer built on top of NTFS, and is loosely based on SQL Server 2005. In August 2004, Microsoft announced that WinFS would not be included in Windows Vista. This was due to time constraints in developing the technology. Microsoft has been working on this technology since the mid 1990s. For a time, Microsoft had said that WinFS would be released separately of Vista, but on June 23, 2006, Microsoft announced that they decided to integrate some of the developed features into the next versions of ADO.NET and SQL Server, effectively cancelling the WinFS project.
    * Due to scheduling issues, the Windows PowerShell, code-named Monad will not be included in Windows Vista. However, Microsoft has announced that it will be available as a separate download in the fourth quarter of 2006
    * Owing to significant difficulties in getting third-party developers to support the system (particularly due to the lack of support for writing for the Trusted Operating Root using .NET managed code), the Next-Generation Secure Computing Base architecture was abandoned for Windows Vista.[14] Some aspects of the NGSCB initiative, such as support for Trusted Platform Module chips, are still present, though its role is now limited to being a provider of cryptographic functions which will support BitLocker Drive Encryption.
    * Support for Intel's Extensible Firmware Interface was originally slated to be included with Vista, but has been removed due to what Microsoft has described as a lack of support on desktop computers.[15] The UEFI 2.0 specification (which replaces EFI 1.10) wasn't completed until early 2006, and as of mid-2006, no firmware manufacturers have completed a production implementation. Microsoft has stated that it intends on incorporating 64-bit UEFI support into a future update to Vista, but 32-bit UEFI will not be supported.
    * PC-to-PC Sync, a Peer-to-peer technology for synchronizing folders on multiple computers running Vista, was removed due to quality concerns. It may arrive sometime in the future in some form.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Vista#XP_feat ures_dropped [wikipedia.org]

    Well, all I know is, everytime I think of cutting up my partition for Vista Beta, I end up in the shower sobbing Unclean, Unclean. Still haven't tried it, Would be nice to skip this whole OS cycle.

    Still a proud debian pc.

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @08:46PM (#15598454) Homepage
    I think Microsoft may have reached the limits of their competence, at least as far as the Win32 platform goes. They no longer seem very capable of making significant improvements to the Windows platform. Perhaps the Jenga pile is just too tall now, and they're running out of ways to add more pieces without it all crashing down on them?

    Not that I'm blaming them -- all software designs have limits, past which they can't be stretched any further and still be made to work. But perhaps Microsoft should be looking at starting over with a fresh new OS design (with backwards compatibility provided via virtual machine emulation only, a la MacOS Classic running in MacOS/X)?

    • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @11:56PM (#15599008)
      That's the maddening part of the Vista story. You're absolutely correct that Vista should have been a new NT-based operating system starting from a clean codebase designed to carry Microsoft another 20 years, and pre-Vista/Win32 apps should have run in a sandbox environment. After all, Microsoft owns Virtual PC, and they're shipping an Express version for free! They've already got the perfect sandbox to aid them in supporting legacy applications. It's a real slap on the forehead that they didn't go the obvious route.

      In retrospect, it's remarkable how smart Apple was to go the route they did with OS X, leveraging open source technology so that they didn't have to develop the whole operating system themselves and could concentrate on constructing a user experience on top of what was already well-tested code. It's a clean, elegant solution that's allowed them to outpace Microsoft at an incredible rate.
  • and must cut out features from Vista in order to ship it. There are too many features in Vista that Microsoft cannot make a release deadline unless they cut some features out of Vista. WinFS can be added in later, or be part of a service pack.

    Actually Microsoft might have better luck with EXT2/EXT3/JFS etc file system support that is superior to NTFS/FAT16/FAT32 and the standards are already well published and should be easier for Microsoft to adopt than the WinFS system. Microsoft should look out because ReactOS is planning for EXT2/EXT3/JFS file system support and it is starting to run some Windows applications without problems (most Windows programs have issues, but ReactOS is slowly improving) and while ReactOS is not ready for Prime-Time, in a few years, who knows? Once it adds Windows driver support, DirectX support, sound card support, and other features, possibly by a 1.0 release (now in 0.30 RC1 release) it might steal some thunder from Microsoft Windows and Vista, if it runs on systems that Vista won't run on.

    Vista is a resource hog anyway, it needs 512M of RAM just to run, and still the swap file keeps growing. You will find many effects will be disabled by some systems just to get a decent performance out of Vista. I think the public release Beta ISO was like almost 4 gigs in size, showing how huge Vista really is. I figure it is like Microsoft stuffing 15 pounds of manure into a 5 pound bag.

    Me I am going to stick with Windows XP and ignore Vista until the service packs fix Vista to be stable enough on hardware I can afford to run it on. I'll use Linux until then as well. I am keeping my eye on ReactOS to see if it reaches XP level success, and then I might switch over to it.
  • by m874t232 ( 973431 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @11:35PM (#15598956)
    The idea of making file systems more database-like has been around for as long as there have been databases. There have been dozens of implementations. The upshot? It doesn't seem to work well for general purpose computing.

    Where it does work is some niche areas of business computing. Integrating WinFS into SQL Server makes sense. Of course, other database vendors have had equivalent technology for a long time.

    All in all, with WinFS and SQL Server, Microsoft has retraced the evolution of the industry--only a few decades late. So, it's business as usual.
  • by hansreiser ( 6963 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @01:25AM (#15599244) Homepage
    This announcement makes more sense than I think people recognize, particularly if you posit that they ran into performance difficulties.

    Remember that they were going to put it all into the filesystem? Then they put it into a layer above the FS. Bet you a bitflip that they found performance problems resulting from mixing large files and small files in the same filesystem. It is very easy to have such problems, you have to get quite clever to avoid them, and expend a lot of effort on it. Rather than take the extra time, they pulled the enhanced semantics out of the filesystem. That was the wrong thing. Then, look at the descriptions of how some of the queries they supported took too long. It is really easy to design things in that area wrong, and get unacceptable performance impacts. Rather than solving the deeply challenging problems, they punted and put the stuff into SQL server. Why? Because people who don't want things to be slow can just not use the feature until they figure out how to make it not cost performance. Of course, that means no OS integration but..... it is so nice to not be designing Reiser4 by committee.

    I see Microsoft responding to difficult technical problems not by solving them, but by running from them, and that explains the entire trajectory of WinFS.

    Another consideration you can see between the lines is that they don't want to lose the revenue from SQL Server by doing everything that it does in the OS and doing it better. Marketers will do things like make the first release of something only available at a higher price. They do that a lot. They'll do it even if it robs Vista of most of its excitement to do it.

    Large corporations often have real problems handling tough research projects.

    Reiser4 [namesys.com] took 5 years to get into working at all (v3), and 10 years of sustained development to get right (reiser4), and it is just the storage layer. You can't do that in a large corporation.

    In a large corporation you are thinking that you need 3 years to do a project that is a paradigm change, and you go talk to management, and you sense that they have patience for 9-18 months, and you really want to do the project, so you tell them you can do it in 9-18 months.

    18 months go by, and you are 1/2 of the way through the first version (you think you are 90% of the way through), and the first version is going to suck badly and take years to be well optimized. Now, if your product is the first in its market, you can make it even though it sucks, and get the money for the version 2. If you are going into a mature market, well, things are tough. Very tough. WinFS is going into a mature market.

    Now, into this reality throw corporate managers. They think that if they intimidate the programmers a lot, products ship sooner. So, technical shortcuts get taken. Only problem is, in a product like WinFS, going into a mature market, taking technical shortcuts kills things. Especially since for a product like WinFS the technical shortcuts affect DEEP decisions that you will never be able to reverse out of. Like, whether the enhanced semantics are in the FS layer. Or whether the whole OS is designed around using the enhanced semantics in every component. Then, managers feel the need to prove they are tough about schedules, and they cancel for being late projects that everyone should have known were going to take a long long time because they were hard. There is some very interesting recent research suggesting that if you want an accurate project length forecast, you don't ask for an estimate, you create a betting pool.

    The sad thing is, since everyone copies Microsoft, now there will be more people saying that Reiser4 shouldn't do what WinFS backed away from. We can do it. We solved the hard storage layer design problems, our stuff works. Now we can finally go after the enhanced semantics. It took 10 years, but we got the storage layer into the shape we want it in, and one plugin at a time the enha

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"