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6/27/2006
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Microsoft: We Killed WinFS Because It Wasn't Ready For End Users

Quentin Clark, WinFS product unit manager for SQL Server, said in a blog that many end-user features of the much-anticipated WinFS file system for Windows weren't ready and that the project has been shelved once again.

If you ask Microsoft whether WinFS is dead, the answer is both yes and no. But it's clear the planned Windows File System is kaput, at least for now.

Quentin Clark, WinFS product unit manager for SQL Server, acknowledged Monday--in an update to his controversial blog, posted last week--that many end-user features of the much-anticipated WinFS file system for Windows aren't ready, and the project has been shelved once again.

Still, Clark insisted that many of the capabilities planned for WinFS have been integrated into Windows Vista and other technologies are designed for the next versions of Visual Studio, code-named Orcas, and SQL Server, code-named Katmai.

Microsoft made WinFS Beta 1 available last August, a year after the Redmond, Wash., software giant shocked the industry with news that the file system--one of three major, new subsystems planned for Vista--was being pulled from the blueprint.

At Tech Ed 2006 just weeks ago, Clark announced that WinFS Beta 2 would be delivered this fall. That plan, however, abruptly changed in a period two weeks, he admitted.

"Is WinFS dead? Yes and no. Yes, we are not going to ship WinFS as a separate, monolithic software component," Clark said in his latest blog, published Monday evening in response to the outcry that followed his first blog post. "But the answer is also no. The vision [of WinFS] remains alive, and we are moving the technology forward. But some of the technology, especially the end-user value points, are not ready. And we're going to continue to work on that in incubation."

This is the second time that Microsoft has cut WinFS from Windows feature list.

Microsoft upset many by announcing in 2004 that WinFS would not make it into the Vista client and the "Longhorn" Windows Server code. But then the company promised that WinFS would be delivered as an add-on to those Windows versions. Microsoft reneged on that promise this week, industry observers noted.

"WinFS, as we understood it, as a new file system is essentially gone," said Rob Enderle, principal of the research firm Enderle Group. "WinFS, as we knew it as a file system, is back in incubation, which means it may never show up in a form consistent with how we originally anticipated it."

Despite the such disappointment about WinFS, some industry analysts and solution providers were forgiving. They believe Microsoft's claim that many of the WinFS technologies have trickled into Vista and the next-generation ADO.NET 3.0 and LINQ integration layer for Visual Studio and in the Katmai edition of SQL Server.

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