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WinFS' Demise Not a Bang Or a Whimper 264

Shadowruni writes "The Seattle-PI confirms with Mircosoft what MS bloggers and pundits have been saying all along. WinFS simply isn't going to happen. Some of its features have been 'merged' with other projects." From the article: "WinFS was dropped from Vista in what company executives described at the time as a trade-off to get the operating system completed in a timely manner. The release of Vista has since been delayed again and is now scheduled for November for large customers and January 2007 for the general public, though some observers say it may be out even later." Final confirmation of a story from last month.
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WinFS' Demise Not a Bang Or a Whimper

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  • I would lay even money on Spring 2008. How long did Win2k take to stabilize? Granted XP went a little quicker, but the explosion of mal-ware made this an almost impossible, and some say unachievable task. I am sorry, but 10+ million lines of code just do not strike me as reasonably predictable and thus stable. At some point, the combinatorily explosion even might give the code sentinence...

     
    • On XP they also had the advantage that they weren't changing fundamental elements of the APIs or the security model. Most XP apps will not run happily on VISTA. You may be able to get them to work if you're an expert (i.e., you know things about "shims" and "restricted administrator access") but for the vast majority of people switching to VISTA will be more painful than switching to Mac. Only apps that are written specifically for VISTA have any chance of working. Microsoft can't release the OS until a
      • Yep, that's what I see is going to happen, Vista is a major bugfix, like OS X was to OS 9, there is a significant underlyiung system change (permissiones, etc.) and also probably a less backward compatible archetecture.

        Having done the switch from 9 to X I know it has been painful (and expensive) at parts, and there is a lot of "Well that program doesn't work anymore and there is no similar OS X version - but the switch is a good thing, really!" Microsoft will have to win over the 90%ish of thier market t

        • Re:Mod parent up (Score:5, Informative)

          by Khuffie ( 818093 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @12:27AM (#15681623) Homepage
          I've been running on Vista, and most programs I've tried (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Opera, WoW, Guild Wars, Trillian) run perfectly fine. Some I've had to run with admin access (WoW, utorrent), others just worked. The only program I've had trouble with is Nero. Nero 6.whatever doesn't load Nero Express, but the actual Nero Burning ROM program works. I tried installing the Nero 7 demo, but it won't run for some reason. I haven't tried MS WOrks.
          • On XP LUA you don't need to run WoW with admin access, you just need to give the LUA full access to the WoW directory in Program Files. Could well be the same on Vista.
            • That would probably work too (never used XP's LUA myself), I'd have to check it out, since the problems with WoW happened when it tried to patch itself, and hence right ot the Program Files directory.
    • That's not really surprising, is it? Windows XP was more of a cosmetic makeover of Windows 2000. It's not like the transition between NT 4.0 and NT 5.0/Windows 2000, where they added an entire directory service and integrated all the other existing services into it. The big features of XP were the accelerated boot-up, skins (if you use the new ComCtl32.dll version 6), remote desktop (terminal services that takes over the console) and somewhat improved compatibility with old Win9x software. All of this w
    • At some point, the combinatorily explosion even might give the code sentinence...

      Well, Windows certainly has a mind of it's own at times, especially when infected with malware! Not quite sentient though... heh
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:48PM (#15681305)
    With more and more announcements like these, does anyone else think it is inevitable that Linux will overtake Microsoft on all bases one day? I mean, it's starting to show Microsoft is only one company devoting a portion, large but just a portion, of it's resources to its OS while Linux is an entire industry with a bunch of diverse people working on small parts seperately.

    I wonder if the Vista's voyage is any kind of vindication to the Linux side, who was always ballyhooed as having "too many distros" earlier, but at least we could depend on someone, somewhere releasing some small update with some type of progress (small but frequent steps) rather than the monolothic approach of large but infrequent steps.
    • by Umbral Blot ( 737704 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:06PM (#15681367) Homepage
      Overtaking Microsoft is not enough to become the dominant OS, for example see OSX.
      • I understand what you mean, but overtaking (technically) in this fashion would also mean making it as easy or easier to move to linux than stick with the current or next Windows version people are on. This obviously has external factors, such as companies porting software over, but could be accomplished in the community via Wine/other.

        For example, people who only use the company to browse the web and write stuff could move to Linux completely almost without exception (though there are those annoying websit
      • Overtaking Microsoft is not enough to become the dominant OS, for example see OSX.

        But even that trend it not yet played out. It takes a long time for a market to unwind itslef from an entrenched position. It will take more time for ODF to catch on, for people to understand how important open document formats are to the long-term health of a governement or a company. But the beenfits are there.

        The OP is right, basically right now Microsoft is fighting many battles and on each front a lot more people are w
    • With more and more announcements like these, does anyone else think it is inevitable that Linux will overtake Microsoft on all bases one day?

      Technically - yes. In fact there are very few areas where this is not already the case technically, with only the interface features left to catch up.

      While this is not a small problem (in fact it's a huge problem) it's also the case that now the big nuts have been cracked, so to speak, the UI problems are recieving so much attention that they are being dealt with
    • Linux announces LinFS to be released before Windows Vista. When asked why, Linus Torvalds responds "Just to prove that we can".
    • Don't get wrong, I use linux as my desktop and keep a windows machine around purely for gaming but linux is not ever going to compete with windows and frankly I that is the reason I use it.

      I am reasonably handy and so I prefer a car that I can tinker with myself. Sure sure modern cars are a lot more comfortable but they are a black box. Fine when everything works but when it doesn't you got a ton of scrap iron until some guy comes along with a laptop and charges you a fortune for replacing a part rather th

      • Re:No not really (Score:3, Informative)

        by Trepalium ( 109107 )

        Easy enough except it totally upset windows so I deleted it again and now windows opens a search window instead of opening the directory in explorer. I no longer can edit the file associations and windows has been borked like this for months.

        That is actually pretty easy to fix. Open Registry Editor, and navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell and set the default value to "none". Not blank, or (value not set), but litterally the four letter word, "none". If Open is missing in the right click men

  • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:50PM (#15681311) Journal
    How about a Poot?
    • How about a Poot?
      Obligatory Star Control 2/UQM quote:
      We love the Pootworm. We are one with the Pootworm. We are one with you.
      Of course you realize that this means you are one with the Pootworm.
      Rejoice!!
      To be one with the Pootworm is to be alive, and why not be alive?
      Is that not what living is for?
      -The Pkunk
      • Obligatory Zappa Song Mis-quote:

        The MS man is seated at the table in the laboratory of the utility MS
        Research kitchen... reaching for an oversized chrome spoon he gathers an
        Intimate quantity of dried muffin remnants and brushing his scapular aside
        Procceds to dump these inside of his shirt...
        He turns to us and speaks:

        Some people like open formats better. I for one care less for them!

        Arrogantly twisting the sterile canvas snoot of a fully charged icing
        Anointment utensil he poots forths a quarter-ounce green r

    • More like a FUD.
  • The release of Vista has since been delayed again and is now scheduled for November for large customers and January 2007 for the general public, though some observers say it may be out even later.


    So MS has was founded just over 31 years ago. Wouldn't a company that has spanned that many decades have a better understanding of software engineering and have a better grasp at making deadlines? I just don't get it. I'm not a fan of MS, but I'm trying to look past that: I just don't get how they can keep underestimating Vista the way they are.
    • My theory is that it's not the software engineering that's the problem - it's marketing. So some of Microsoft's competition has full file indexing and document management. One set of marketing people say "Hey - we should do that! Can we do that? Make it a part of the OS, too? Of course we can - We're Mircosoft"

      Meanwhile, other marketing people are looking at the feature set of distributed link tracking.... And another set of marketing weasels are looking at DRM respect... and attributes for near-line storage management... and (name any competitor's advantage, and expect Marketing to want to add it to the feature set).

      The failure isn't in Engineering - it's in Management. Someone promised too much complexity.

      Given a year or two per feature set, done incrementally, with product releases that allow the code to be tested and refined, WinFS probably could be engineered into a fine solution.

      But the deadline is too close now. They need to cut their losses and bug-check what they have, now, so that the file system that does ship is stable, and not a huge disaster.

      Interestingly, the open source solution of file systems is far better at trying out new ideas and making progress. It may take longer to make the features integrated - but that integration hasn't been a defining requirement for success or failure.

      • Well, you've explained why WinFS won't be in Vista, but not why it's been pretty much killed (or folded into other projects) entirely. I find it strange that conflicting marketing directives could kill such a substantial and long promised technology in its entirety. I'm very curious to know what really happened; if it was a management screw up, exactly how did management screw it up? Unfortunately, we probably will not know for at the very least a few years.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          The problem is most likely that they couldn't figure out exactly what the product would do or who would use it. I think it's sort of like "That's great, but what do we do with it?" kinds of things. It started out as mostly a way to index content and metadata, but then you have the problem of how to get data into it. So it's better to make it an object store; since it knows about the objects and they have schemata, it's easy to understand the data and index it. But then you have the problem of how to access
      • "My theory is that it's not the software engineering that's the problem - it's marketing. "

        I disagree. Having been subjected to innumerable vague and meaningless error messages from MS products I think the engineering staff is lazy or stupid or both. I am positive it was not the marketing dept that decided that "overlfow!" was a sufficient error message to throw at you when you were trying to import a 300,000 like file into a SQL server table. Other faves? "Multiple step error" and of course the ever favor
        • Those were all the fault of engineers.

          Or management, who de-prioritized it as a "nobody will ever do that" feature.

          On the other hand, considering Microsoft's idea of what constitutes an "engineer", it wouldn't surprise me that it's the "engineers'" fault.

          • "Or management, who de-prioritized it as a "nobody will ever do that" feature."

            So let me get this straight.

            There you are coding the bulk importing tool for SQL server. You have written all this code to try and determine data types, matching the columns to commas, etc. You wrote the loop that iterates through the file. And then the manager came along and told you not to add any eception handling to the code inside the loop? I don't think so.

            Instead I think you are stupid and lazy coder who decided not add a
            • There you are coding the bulk importing tool for SQL server. You have written all this code to try and determine data types, matching the columns to commas, etc. You wrote the loop that iterates through the file. And then the manager came along and told you not to add any eception handling to the code inside the loop?

              The manager would have said, "good enough, now drop everything and do this super-urgent project before the deadline next month".

              Whether or not you are willing to accept it, I suspect there

    • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:36PM (#15681484) Journal
      Large commercial companies, like MS, do not hire the best coders. Actually, let me rephrase that. They do not retain them. The problem is that MS has ppl at the top that tell the coders what they will do. Many of these are solutions to the marketing problem of how do we retain our monopoly. MS has very little inovative work. That does not mean that they have not hired inovative ppl. But these folks simply move on. What you are left with are several types
      1. The engineer who has been there since the 70's/early 80's and are worth millions themselves and now wish to keep accumulating.
      2. New engineers who are being worked to death and will go elsewhere for their inovative work.
      3. Finally, the grunt who really can not go elsewhere. They are stuck there.

      Sadly, it is the final person who is filling the bulk of the positions.
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:40PM (#15681497) Homepage Journal
      Ha! No-one knows how to develop software. No-one has ever known how to develop software.
    • Wouldn't a company that has spanned that many decades have a better understanding of software engineering and have a better grasp at making deadlines?

      Unfortunately, no. You can't turn a 31-year-old cruise liner as quickly as you can turn a 4 passenger ski-boat. Small companies succeed by agility; Large companies succeed by dieing.

    • Other posters gave a couple of reasons that in combination probably explains it.

      First, we're still groping for a workable methodology in creating large-scale software using large teams. So Vista is heavily delayed and stripped of half it's intended functionality - that's pretty much par for the course on any project that size. Check the steady stream of horror stories at trade rags like InfoWorld or statistics on project performance at any large company. The large-scale project that is on time and on budget
    • I know of a person who told me a long time ago that he was waiting for Longhorn. As that would be coming out soon, he was not interested in Linux. Now he is waiting a few years for Vista. He does not want to do Linux, because Vista is just around the corner.

      I can imagine many IT people think the same. If Microsoft would say: "Our next real big step is in 5 years", many would go over to alternatives. However if they say, "next year, realy." the decisionmakers say: Let's wait a bit and see what it is and deci
  • by linguae ( 763922 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:57PM (#15681338)

    I would love to see an OS released for the market that combines all of the research done within the past 10-15 years in kernels, file systems, HCI, application development, programming languages and APIs, virtual machines and virtualization, etc. However, look where we are at now. We're still using (for the most part) monolithic kernels, old file systems, old development tools, etc. There hasn't been any radical improvements in commerical OSes for quite some time. (One could say that OS X is a dramatic improvement, but much of OS X is based off NeXTSTEP, which had existed for quite some time before Apple bought them out).

    I would like to see a new NeXTSTEP (technologically, not in terms of business success). NeXT was able to look at all of the current CS research of the time and integrate that into their operating system. NeXTSTEP was far ahead of its competition and, if it weren't for hardware support and the need for modern software, I'd probably run it as an everyday OS. Mac OS X is still ahead of its competition because of its NeXTSTEP roots, as well as Apple's improvements to the OS since 1997. Imagine if there was a new OS that took advantage of all of today's CS research, was very easy to use, and was compatible with existing software. I'd be the first person in line to buy it.

    Until then, I can dream about my ultra-secure, exokernel OS with a database file system, flexible yet safe programming language, very easy to use UI, "boxes" to run Windows and *nix software....

    • I hope you realize that actually writing software takes TIME, with an exponential relationship with complexity. An OS takes a LOT of time to write because it has a LOT of hardware to support, a lot of usage scenarios to take into account. Cobble together that's "new and cutting edge" like NeXT STEP would only yield yet another spectacular business failure, because there would be no time to build, test, and secure such a large chunk of code. As nice as OSX is, it's not end-all be-all in any way shape or form
    • So what you want to see is an compilation of immature academic technologies into a mature stable production system. Why not just wish for a gold house?
    • by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:33PM (#15681468) Homepage Journal
      That OS already exists. There is so much cutting edge work going into Linux that Windows seems archaic in comparison. Yeah, the kernel is monolithic, that's because research over the past 10-15 years shows that microkernels are slooooow. File systems ... pick one, they ALL exist for Linux. HCI ... XGL anyone? Application development ... there are more IDEs and toolkits on Linux than one could learn in a lifetime. Programming languages ... all there. APIs ... broad question ... but anything that's not MS (and even some that are ... WINEAPI) are there. Virutal machines ... Bochs, VMWare, Win4LinPro, etc. Virutalization ... KML and XEN.

      You can lock down Linux as tight as you want, use the Oracle IFS db based file system, use Ruby, KDE, VMWare ... I think you get the point. Now, having spewed all that, my impression is that you're waiting to see that "OS" from MS, nobody else, so you have to expect to be waiting a very long time, if ever for it. The fact is, if you want to be on the cutting edge, drop the past and use Linux. If you want to play games ... stay on Windows, it's DESIGNED for people who want something familiar, doesn't obselete any software compiled 15 years ago, and isn't so revolutionary as to scare grandma or the receptionist.
      • by telbij ( 465356 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @12:40AM (#15681666)
        Linux does have a ton of research-level development on it. You can do amazing things that you can't do anywhere else. Unfortunately the history of UNIX weighs in very heavily in almost all OS development. The fact is that the problems with UNIX are obscured by how horrendous Windows is. Think how much we could really move forward if we were to take some fresh ideas like Plan9 [bell-labs.com]. Unfortunately the software economy is too mature for a cutting-edge research OS to be able to get a critical mass of developers. No one wants to write software for a new OS when there's already so much open source out there for Linux/UNIX. If you could get paid to do pure research it would be pretty fun though.
        • Amen. Until I started playing with Plan 9 I never realized how silly some aspects of modern Unix systems really are. If you want to see a manpage you use "man", but because it has to run in a terminal emulator it needs a full-featured pager, and IIRC on some systems it even re-generates the pages from *roff source. The hideous complexity of autoconf. X11.

          I just started using Plan 9 about a week ago on an occasional basis. Though I can adjust to the system, and admire the elegance that allows, for examp
      • Yeah, the kernel is monolithic, that's because research over the past 10-15 years shows that microkernels are slooooow.

        That's a often-debunked myth. Research over the past 10-15 years shows that Mach is slow because it's bloated. Newer microkernels are much smaller (for example, L4 can apparently fit entirely inside your CPU cache), and don't incur anywhere near as much of a performance hit.

        Instead of drawing conclusions based on an old flamewar, go read some of what Andrew S. Tanenbaum and others ha

      • File systems ... pick one, they ALL exist for Linux. HCI ... XGL anyone? Application development ... there are more IDEs and toolkits on Linux than one could learn in a lifetime. Programming languages ... all there. APIs ... broad question ... but anything that's not MS (and even some that are ... WINEAPI) are there. Virutal machines ... Bochs, VMWare, Win4LinPro, etc. Virutalization ... KML and XEN. ... The fact is, if you want to be on the cutting edge, drop the past and use Linux. If you want to play gam

    • I would love to see an OS released for the market that combines all of the research done within the past 10-15 years in kernels, file systems, HCI, application development, programming languages and APIs, virtual machines and virtualization, etc. However, look where we are at now. We're still using (for the most part) monolithic kernels, old file systems, old development tools, etc.

      Very simply, the people with the inclination and skill to tinker with new operating systems think that Unix, X11, xterms, vi a

    • "Imagine if there was a new OS that took advantage of all of today's CS research, was very easy to use, and was compatible with existing software."
      Pick two, any two.
      • Ideally, I would pick the first two. However, all new and successful OSes has a compatibility layer. Windows NT-based OSes have compatibility with DOS and 16-bit Windows apps. Mac OS X (on PPC) has Classic for older Mac OS applications. Linux is source compatible with any Unix program written in the past 35 years.

        I was just dreaming with my original post. The probability of an OS like this coming out is very slim because there is just too much work to do to build it, as well as the required work invol

    • by Ambassador Kosh ( 18352 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:43AM (#15682110)
      Actually I disagree that OSX is ahead of its competition. In some areas you might be right but in general I think that KDE is a lot more advanced. The IOSlave system and the kparts are both highly integrated into the rest of the system and used to great effect.

      Anywhere in kde that you want to use a file you can use an IOSlave. This gives you url transparency for reading and writing in every app very easily. For example you can send a file in kmail and then use sftp to load an attachment from a remote server and hit send. It will grab the file and attach it just fine. You can go to a form on a webpage that expects a file say for uploading an image and give it an http, ftp, sftp, etc url to an image and just hit submit to upload it. These IOSlaves are integral to the system and I would say on average they save me several hours per week.

      The other major thing is the kpart system. Other systems seem to just pay lipservice to reusing components. In kde there is one address book system, one spellchecking system, one terminal window system, one proxy configuration system etc. I can configure those things in just one palce and they are reused everywhere. Actually for text editors there is a good example of this take kate. Kate actually is two pieces one is an application called kate and the other is the actual kpart called kate. By default the kate text editor, kwrite, kdevelop3, embedded text views etc all use kate. So you can configure syntax highlighting for example and no matter where you look at the code it will be shown the same way. I have not seen anything remotely close to this in any other system.

      For what I do kde is more advanced then pretty much any other gui system out there and it saves a lot more time them osx, windows etc do.

      Also as a note you can write kde apps in python and ruby. Those are definitely flexible yet safe programming langauges and you can get apps up and running very quickly with those.
  • by gasmonso ( 929871 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:00PM (#15681342) Homepage

    I'd like to know how many /. readers predicted this a long time ago. But seriously, this just shows the troubles that MS is having maintaing the beast that is Windows. You can only sustain a rotten code base for so long until disaster strikes. And this disaster is Vista. If Microsoft is going to survive in the future they will have to innovate and restructure the way they create software.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • I'm not seeing too many other database filesystems, about the only one that I recall shipping was the one for BeOS.

      My own theory is that WinFS was to an extent a windmill to be mistaken for a dreagon. How much time has been wasted by people trying to build Gonkulators of their own?
    • Odd...

      While Vista does have steeper requirements, and by default runs a bunch of GUI effects that aren't really necessary--I don't see it as a disaster at all.

      I just removed Beta 2 from this very laptop, and my reasons for doing so had nothing whatsoever to do with the OS (My laptop's DVD reading software decided not to work, and ATI's beta vista driver didn't support OpenGL). For the entire time I had it on, there was exactly one crash -- and it was caused by the aforementioned laptop software, not Vista.
  • Road Map (Score:5, Funny)

    by xixax ( 44677 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:00PM (#15681344)
    So I suppose the purpose of having a road map [pbs.org] is so that we can see where we didn't go.

    Xix.
  • by OverflowingBitBucket ( 464177 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:04PM (#15681359) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    Thomas said it's too early to discuss whether WinFS would make an appearance in future versions of Windows.

    And how often have we heard rumours of WinFS appearing in the next Windows OS?

    • Re:Next one huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by divide overflow ( 599608 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:48PM (#15681528)
      > And how often have we heard rumours of WinFS appearing in the next Windows OS?

      Ever since Jim Allchin Microsoft announced Project Cairo in 1991. It was scheduled for release in 1994, and it was to include an object oriented file system similar to what is now referred to as WinFS. Now, 15 years later, these capabilities are STILL missing in action. Here's a chart showing Microsoft scheduled and actual ship dates [mcpmag.com].

      Of course, in the mean time Microsoft has been chasing other innovations and their ever expanding appetites ever since that announcement...Internet connectivity and its related clients (www, mail, ftp, nntp...), security, improving stability, not to mention all the kinds of new hardware devices that had to be supported. Many of them were first supported by Windows.

      Nonetheless, WinFS is one of the most obvious cases of Microsoft having "dropped the ball."
      • Thanks for that divide overflow. :) I knew if I mentioned that then someone with some more detailed info would back me up. 15 years ago, truly scary. I've never seen that chart before, that's pretty interesting too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:04PM (#15681360)
    The house of cards that is Windows is finally unmanageable and on the verge of collapse. We've known it was coming all along, as they kept bolting stuff on and attempting to patch a crufty old OS in the interest of backwards compatibility. Their inability to integrate a new filesystem into it is a sign that their 2 decades worth of nasty spaghetti code has finally reached critical mass and simply can't be futzed with anymore.

    They're just going to have to bite the bullet sooner or later and do what Apple did-- drop the old OS in favor of a new one, and ease the transition to it by allowing the old one to run as an application.

    The billion dollar question is, will they be able to manage such a huge transition? Based on how terribly their OS projects are mismanaged, it's extremely doubtful.
    • 1) While the filesystem architecture is pretty horrible, there have been successes there by other companies.

      There's are file system interfaces to NFS, FTP, EXT2, UDF, and a probably a few more that I can't think of right now. This has nothing to do with the previously badly written code.

      The problem with WinFS is WinFS. It's got features in it that would make it unacceptably slow and easily corrupted. That won't fly. I think they thought that they could overcome these obvious problems through genius. Apparently its still hard.

      2) Like every OS trailing back almost to the invention of the compiler, Windows is modular. And by that I don't mean "it has modules, or even dlls" I mean that the ideas within it are divided into real (and occasionally conceptual) pieces.

      Some of the pieces are new and shiny and well written. Some are old and spaghetti-like. There's no reason to throw out everything to get one new piece. The fundamental design of the Windows kernel is neat even if the registry isn't. The network stack works pretty well even if the filesystem interface doesn't.

      Along those lines,
      I think they should stop selling windows as one thing. I'd like to know what new thing it is I'm getting in the latest version of Windows. Because they do occasionally throw out the old and replace it with something new and fresh that works great. But sometimes they only sell things that are exactly the same as the old, but with things I don't care about at all, or sell me lots of things I don't care about and only one that I do.
      • What the Deuce? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shaneh0 ( 624603 )
        A slashdotter capable of considering two opposing viewpoints at the same time.. What is this world comming to?!

        I'm a windows developer and I like linux just fine. I build all of our webstuff w/ PHP on Ubuntu. I personally think that Windows is superior to Linux in the ways people actually care about, but linux is still a good product, especially for web servers.

        I get that linux is more secure then windows. ESPECIALLY if you're just a Joe-User: It's so difficult to install and configure that he'd eventually
        • I get that linux is more secure then windows. ESPECIALLY if you're just a Joe-User: It's so difficult to install and configure that he'd eventually just forget-it and leave the PC half-baked and useless.

          No, it isn't difficult to install and configure. Heck, I use Debian, which is arguably one of the more expert-oriented distributions, and it's still far easier to set up than any recent version of Windows. I don't just mean the install CD; I mean the install CD, upgrading everything using Microsoft Updat

    • the OSes out of microsoft have only been getting better. Well, 95 may not have been better than DOS, depending on who you're talking to, and ME was awful (but let's face it, it was just a service pack for '98), but 95->98->XP and NT->2k->XP was a steady progression of stabler, more compatible, friendlier OSes.

      Will Vista be awful? I dunno, maybe, I guess we'll see. But saying that everything is ready to fall apart because of a rotten codebase when the products have only been getting better se
    • They're just going to have to bite the bullet sooner or later and do what Apple did-- drop the old OS in favor of a new one, and ease the transition to it by allowing the old one to run as an application.

      Yeah, they should write a new system - let's call it the NT kernel and Win32 subsystem, and then give the applications written for the old OS an emulation/thunking layer - let's call it Wowexec, for instance, and then the old applications written for the old crufty OS could gradually be phased out.

      But I

  • Good news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:13PM (#15681391) Homepage
    At least NTFS is somewhat understood now and drivers (although imperfect) exist and are being improved.

    I understand that WinFS was going to have NTFS as the backend but this avoids the necessity to reverse engineer another closed and obfusicated layer of almost-compliant-with-the-spec-which-you-cant-see- anyway rubbish in order to function as well as Microsoft's own offerings.
  • In other words... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:15PM (#15681398) Journal
    Microsoft has not yet finalised plans to make the most commercial success out of WinFS. Making it part of a highly pirated OS doesn't make commercial sense. Lack of features in a rebranded OS doesn't imply loss of sales / profits either. Improved features doesn't imply more profits from the OS business as well.

    And so, until MS dcides whether to package WinFS as part of SQL or .Net or Active Directory or the Aero interface or BSOD... we'll have to wait and see.
  • by bergeron76 ( 176351 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:30PM (#15681457)
    I call BS. What "large customers" are clamoring for all the great updates that Vista will bring? Every major corpration that I've ever seen is bent on stability and steady IT deployments. NOT shoot from the hip, let's jump on this tech because it's "the latest per our IT department". Executives care about the bottom line, not the latest software release - unless it's MSeBaysoft(with the Paypal module).

    I'd love to see one large customer named.

    • Um... Dell, Gateway, Lenovo, HP.

      Theses guys want to use the latest greatest version of Windows to convince people that they need to buy new hardware. Microsoft's delays have actually hurt the equipment vendors because people are holding off on buying new machines, waiting for Vista.

      The main thing that Vista is supposed to help with is security. In theory, they've redesigned for security and that will mean a lot fewer patches. And, that's something that large customers want -- the few patches, the less m
  • by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:50PM (#15681533)
    Why WinFS failed to deliver...

    When the concepts of relational database FS were being thrown around back in the mid 90s, there was a need for this technology. WinFS was to be the next progression of this work, but in its new form a non-structure, non-relational database FS technology.

    WinFS was designed to sit on NTFS, never to replace it. In fact none of the proposed MS FS technologies were ever to replace NTFS.

    WinFS did develop several inroads in database technology to move past relational and object oriented database storage concepts; however, this was not enough for it to succeed, but rather for its technology to be used in database and data access technologies like MSSQL and the ADO models.

    There are two big reasons WinFS was stopped before ever seeing the light of day.

    1) Efficiency over functionality
    2) Business & Networked File Systems

    The first is probably the biggest nail in the coffin, but yet also the hardest one to get through to people.

    In current computing environments, adding in a good indexing technology, you can provide 99.9% of the functionality of WinFS and the overhead in doing so turns out to be less than if a full WinFS was implemented.

    For example, it is easier and more efficient to have a database indexing backend that references the standard FS and FS contents than it is to put the FS contents into a database. This can be witnessed in products like MS Desktop Search, the Vista Desktop Search, and Apple's Desktop Search as well. (Although the Apple incarnation at this point is a bit more poky than it should be.)

    The second part of this is the added functionality. One of the promises of WinFS was the ability to tag and relationally add content to files and file listings. Again, this does not offer 'enough' of an edge compared to the current FS technologies. Most of these features are already supported in NTFS, so you can add tagging, and additional fields of information to the files stored on an NTFS volume, basically providing the same features as adding new fields as a database FS would offer.

    The only portion that is somewhat left behind in current technology that WinFS would have provided is the 'relational' nature of items in the FS. But again, the database indexing engine that is used for searching can also provide a certain level of these relational aspects to the file and contents.

    So when you look at just these basic issues, you can see why in the end MS pulled WinFS as it exists today, and instead has put the functionality of WinFS in the current technologies, as you find in Vista already. (Fast search, relations between files and file contents, tagging using NTFS, etc.)

    It may not be the best PR move for Microsoft in the long run, as people here will have a field day with WinFS being abandoned in its current form as an add-on to NTFS. But if you were Microsoft and could provide 99% of the functionality of WinFS with the database indexing services in Vista (and XP) and do it faster than having to add on a new WinFS layer to NTFS, they why would you progress with a product that isn't going to offer what they can already offer with the current technologies.

    If computing power was on par with 1995, then something like WinFS would have more viability as Hard Drives and Processors could more efficiently do all that Vista is doing in a Database structured storage. However today, the overhead of doing this outside a database store is fairly non-existent.

    On to the second reason, which is business. Implementing localized database stores for files and documents and keeping these in sync with corporate stores is a rather big hurdle when you consider that businesses are not average Joe users and have tons of applications and infrastructure to coordinate Files spread across networks that are outside of existing MS technologies. WinFS would break many business tools and models rather badly.

    As for WinFS and Database FS concepts being 'vaporware' or dead, simply is a myth for the MS haters
  • Tagged as dukenukemforever. I could've told you this long ago...

    Meanwhile, Hans Reiser is doing some real filesystem innovation [namesys.com]...
  • http://blogs.msdn.com/winfs/archive/2006/06/23/644 706.aspx [msdn.com]

    sheesh zonk get some sleep already :)
  • Be knew how to do an OS. Small updates sold frequently at low prices. If Microsoft released a new version of Windows every year to two years with incremental updates for say... $25 for a home upgrade, they'd have a steadier flow of cash and less expectations placed on them to make radical new things. Vista might actually already be here if Microsoft had sold successors to XP code named NT 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, etc. that added small improvements. They could then sell NT 6.0 featuring Aero for $50 for an upgrade or
  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Eric Damron ( 553630 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @12:41AM (#15681668)
    "WinFS was dropped from Vista in what company executives described at the time as a trade-off to get the operating system completed in a timely manner."

    Oops... Too late for that don't you think?!
  • At least now Microsoft is smart amd don't name their operating system after a specific year anymore.
  • by hansreiser ( 6963 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:20AM (#15681933) Homepage
    After 10 years working to create a suitable storage layer for implementing semi-structured data queries in the FS for Linux, I gotta tell you, this stuff is harder than I ever thought it would be. :-/

    (See Reiser4 [namesys.com] for our storage layer, and our Future Vision paper [namesys.com] for what semantics we are going to add.)

    5 years to do the first draft (ReiserFS V3), and then another 5 years to get it finally right (Reiser4).

    To do enhanced semantics cleanly, you want keywords to be just another kind of file (see our Future Vision paper [namesys.com] for why. That means you need to store files that contain phone number sized objects and keywords reasonably efficiently. Because of network effect economics creating a barrier to entry, you have to at the same time make traditional file system usage patterns at least as fast. That is hard. How hard? Oracle tried to do it without deeply changing their tree algorithms, amd implemented an FS on top of their database engine, and found that it was half the speed of a traditional filesystem. Others also found it hard. I tried to do it with V3, and found that for files in the 0-10k size range, I had many of the performance problems that FFS had when they created fragments. Thing was, I never knew they had performance problems, because it was not in their paper.... The problem was that when you combined fragments from multiple files, you add seeks, and one added seek is deadly to performance. The approach used in most databases, BLOBS, suffers from the same problem as FFS combining fragments, and yet more, because BLOBs unbalance the tree (see our website for details and nice diagrams). The usual transaction technology employed for databases, it is just wrong for filesystems, what you need in an FS is to fuse multiple transactions together into batches. And more....

    There are so many different areas where if you take a wrong step, performance goes through the floor. You cannot imagine how depressing it is to work on a project where the performance is terrible until the very end, after 5% to rarely 20% at a time you've dragged it into something decent over years of time. I look back on it, and I see that we were incredibly lucky, because all the mistakes I made, were mistakes that took days or weeks to fix, and except for one thing (BLOBs), all the major things that would take years to fix, I got right. There is no reason for this other than luck. And BLOBS cost us years.

    So we have for Linux the storage layer that MS could not develop because they quit before 10 years had passed, and perhaps weren't lucky enough at. Now, with technology working, and balance trees that can emulate file system semantics at twice the speed of the real thing (see our benchmarks ), sigh, if only we can overcome the politics. Yup, the WinFS team had to deal with corporate managers that quit before 10 years are past, but we have to deal with..... better unfinished as a sentence.

    The only consolation in this field is that everyone else seems to find it just as hard. Probably that includes even the politics.
    • by Tim Browse ( 9263 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:18AM (#15682065)

      Yay - it's refreshing to see someone working for 'the other side' (for want of a better term) who reacts to this story in a realistic and honest way, without feeling the need to bash MS for their WinFS problems ("Ha ha! M$ are teh suck!", etc).

      Perhaps, I don't know, it's because you've spent years working on this problem, and know the difficulties involved, rather than the average slashdot MS basher who read a magazine article about writing file systems once and can't see what's so hard about them, or, come to that, like some of the other posters here, who can't see what's so hard about managing one of the largest software projects on the planet.

    • Performance and features are secondary to reliability. I found this out the hard way when my Reiser 3 file system got corrupted. Because the system was on it as well the computer could no longer reboot. I never got a byte back from it, maybe I did not have the knowledge, maybe it was not possible.

      To add insult to injury once I installed xfs I copied some of the data back from a Win2K box that never lost a byte in the 5 years it's been running 24/7.

      I am saddened to say it but it's going to be a very long

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