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What happened to WinFS...

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  • User profile image
    umerh

    Hi Microsoft,


    If I remember correctly, Longhorn ditched WinFS even though WinFS was in the Beta stage and was supposed to ship as a separate package in Windows Vista Server.

    I just wanted an update from you guys because Vista Server is out even the R2 is out now. Even with Windows 7 there is no such announcement about WinFS coming in Windows 7.

    WinFS is a really brilliant idea and naturally makes sense because of the relational architecture.

    Will we ever see WinFS coming out of Microsoft Labs?

    Best,

    Umer 

  • User profile image
    blowdart

    Umm WinFS was canned. Long ago. Did you miss that announcement?

  • User profile image
    littleguru

    Parts of WinFS live on in other technologies. But the product itself has been cancelled.

    It's interesting to see that once each half year we get a new thread that asks about where WinFS is.

  • User profile image
    GoddersUK

    littleguru said:

    Parts of WinFS live on in other technologies. But the product itself has been cancelled.

    It's interesting to see that once each half year we get a new thread that asks about where WinFS is.

    It couldn't be... the answer could it?...

    Does it turn polar bears white?
    Does it make you cry?

  • User profile image
    Dovella

    part of Win Fs is in Library of Windows 7 ?

  • User profile image
    Bas

    Dovella said:
    part of Win Fs is in Library of Windows 7 ?
    I think part of the goals from WinFS eventually became Windows 7's Libraries, yeah. Doubt there's much of the actual code in there, but still.

  • User profile image
    DCMonkey

    Bas said:
    Dovella said:
    *snip*
    I think part of the goals from WinFS eventually became Windows 7's Libraries, yeah. Doubt there's much of the actual code in there, but still.
    Does anyone remember that Libraries were actually part of Vista in the post-reset CTP releases? I don't remember if they worked the same as the current implementation though.

  • User profile image
    Larry Osterman

    DCMonkey said:
    Bas said:
    *snip*
    Does anyone remember that Libraries were actually part of Vista in the post-reset CTP releases? I don't remember if they worked the same as the current implementation though.

    As far as I know, Libraries are new for Win7. 

    WinFS was essentially replaced by WDS.

    I've yet to hear a compelling reason why WinFS would actually matter to any user (or most developers, for that matter).

  • User profile image
    DCMonkey

    Larry Osterman said:
    DCMonkey said:
    *snip*
    As far as I know, Libraries are new for Win7. 

    WinFS was essentially replaced by WDS.

    I've yet to hear a compelling reason why WinFS would actually matter to any user (or most developers, for that matter).
    All I remember is that some early Vista CTP had a Library item in the navigation pane of Explorer, and there was virtualization of the common folder locations on the start menu (though that may have been done via saved searches rather than aggregating folders).

  • User profile image
    BHpaddock

    • WinFS is a really brilliant idea and naturally makes sense because of the relational architecture.

    Could you explain what exactly about WinFS you are missing?

    It was an interesting prototype and lots of interesting technology came out of it, but it didn't even come close to being a practical replacement for the current data storage models prevalent on Windows.


    • WinFS was essentially replaced by WDS.

    That's sort of true, although as I recall, WinFS used the WDS indexer to provide its full-text search functionality Smiley

  • User profile image
    umerh

    BHpaddock said:
    • WinFS is a really brilliant idea and naturally makes sense because of the relational architecture.

    Could you explain what exactly about WinFS you are missing?

    It was an interesting prototype and lots of interesting technology came out of it, but it didn't even come close to being a practical replacement for the current data storage models prevalent on Windows.


    • WinFS was essentially replaced by WDS.

    That's sort of true, although as I recall, WinFS used the WDS indexer to provide its full-text search functionality Smiley

    Well imagine, i had two calendar applications on my computer just because i liked the features offered by the two, lets say outlook syned with my exchange and sunbird helped me with some other problem ( i cant imagine what sunbird will help me with.... but lets assume it did).... imagine having how much will common store help you in this case!!! change made in one app will automatically reflect in the other.

    Common data store can open up many possibilities for you as a user and certainly a lot for as a developer.

    anyways, libraries doesnt really radically change the way we store data and relate the data in them and the ways apps interact with data.

    i must admit that WinFS was really cool!!!

  • User profile image
    blowdart

    BHpaddock said:
    • WinFS is a really brilliant idea and naturally makes sense because of the relational architecture.

    Could you explain what exactly about WinFS you are missing?

    It was an interesting prototype and lots of interesting technology came out of it, but it didn't even come close to being a practical replacement for the current data storage models prevalent on Windows.


    • WinFS was essentially replaced by WDS.

    That's sort of true, although as I recall, WinFS used the WDS indexer to provide its full-text search functionality Smiley

    The idea of objects.

    Vista has the contacts folder; which is nice. If you're using Windows Mail. Use anything else and that folder stays empty. Now if there was a contact object in a file system everyone shared then that folder would be populated.

    Now I realise when I type in a contact name WDS does pull it out eventually; but there's part of me that hankers after a common object store.

    But boy was promoting objects to WinFS and back to the file system painful.

  • User profile image
    Larry Osterman

    blowdart said:
    BHpaddock said:
    *snip*
    The idea of objects.

    Vista has the contacts folder; which is nice. If you're using Windows Mail. Use anything else and that folder stays empty. Now if there was a contact object in a file system everyone shared then that folder would be populated.

    Now I realise when I type in a contact name WDS does pull it out eventually; but there's part of me that hankers after a common object store.

    But boy was promoting objects to WinFS and back to the file system painful.
    Who gets to define the schema for a "contact"?  How about a "document"?

    Once you start thinking in those terms, you realize quite quickly that the idea of abstract "objects" can quickly become unworkable.  That's because Outlook's idea of what belongs in a contact object might be very different from Windows Mail's idea, which might be very different from Thunderbird's idea.

    Here's a really simple example:  To Outlook, an email address is a multivalued string property which lists all the possible email addresses for a particular recipient (there could be a dozen or so of them depending on the topology of your network).  To Windows Mail, an email address would be just an SMPT address.  To the email system I wrote back in high school, it's a RSTS-E account name ([<octal value>,<octal value>], to something else, it might be something totally different, with a totally different syntax.

    Now consider what happens when you use a contact in Outlook that was created by my high school email program?.  Outlook doesn't know how to send email to this contact, it doesn't even know how to interpret the address. 

    Can you guarantee that all clients of this object store all handle these cases properly? 

    This is just one small example of the kinds of interoperability problems you can get - this one is probably solvable, but there are others that aren't.

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    Larry Osterman said:
    blowdart said:
    *snip*
    Who gets to define the schema for a "contact"?  How about a "document"?

    Once you start thinking in those terms, you realize quite quickly that the idea of abstract "objects" can quickly become unworkable.  That's because Outlook's idea of what belongs in a contact object might be very different from Windows Mail's idea, which might be very different from Thunderbird's idea.

    Here's a really simple example:  To Outlook, an email address is a multivalued string property which lists all the possible email addresses for a particular recipient (there could be a dozen or so of them depending on the topology of your network).  To Windows Mail, an email address would be just an SMPT address.  To the email system I wrote back in high school, it's a RSTS-E account name ([<octal value>,<octal value>], to something else, it might be something totally different, with a totally different syntax.

    Now consider what happens when you use a contact in Outlook that was created by my high school email program?.  Outlook doesn't know how to send email to this contact, it doesn't even know how to interpret the address. 

    Can you guarantee that all clients of this object store all handle these cases properly? 

    This is just one small example of the kinds of interoperability problems you can get - this one is probably solvable, but there are others that aren't.
    I never looked too deeply into how WinFS was implemented, but one thing I took away from it was that meta-data would be self-described in XML. I'm interested in being able to attach any information I want to any file, using some format like Adobe's XMP, and have it readable in Explorer on any Windows computer. That would benefit me as an end-user just because it would allow me to catalogue and annotate my files. If different programs wanted to share information, I'd guess they would simply have to agree to some defined standard.

  • User profile image
    umerh

    Larry Osterman said:
    blowdart said:
    *snip*
    Who gets to define the schema for a "contact"?  How about a "document"?

    Once you start thinking in those terms, you realize quite quickly that the idea of abstract "objects" can quickly become unworkable.  That's because Outlook's idea of what belongs in a contact object might be very different from Windows Mail's idea, which might be very different from Thunderbird's idea.

    Here's a really simple example:  To Outlook, an email address is a multivalued string property which lists all the possible email addresses for a particular recipient (there could be a dozen or so of them depending on the topology of your network).  To Windows Mail, an email address would be just an SMPT address.  To the email system I wrote back in high school, it's a RSTS-E account name ([<octal value>,<octal value>], to something else, it might be something totally different, with a totally different syntax.

    Now consider what happens when you use a contact in Outlook that was created by my high school email program?.  Outlook doesn't know how to send email to this contact, it doesn't even know how to interpret the address. 

    Can you guarantee that all clients of this object store all handle these cases properly? 

    This is just one small example of the kinds of interoperability problems you can get - this one is probably solvable, but there are others that aren't.
    Larry, you definitely have a point.

    but consider the fact that when you guys released VB.NET and VB6ers had to reconsider how they wrote their software to take advantage of the new .NET platform..... with some marginal changes VB6ers were able to leverage a whole bunch of new features

    same is the case with WinFS, if you want to take advantage of the new datastore would you do have to consider how you store data... and for the schema problems.... i am pretty sure WinFS team would have had a solution for this problem, i m quite sure these problems are trivial for microsofties.

  • User profile image
    PaoloM

    brian.shapiro said:
    Larry Osterman said:
    *snip*
    I never looked too deeply into how WinFS was implemented, but one thing I took away from it was that meta-data would be self-described in XML. I'm interested in being able to attach any information I want to any file, using some format like Adobe's XMP, and have it readable in Explorer on any Windows computer. That would benefit me as an end-user just because it would allow me to catalogue and annotate my files. If different programs wanted to share information, I'd guess they would simply have to agree to some defined standard.
    Brian, the goal of universal and pervasive metadata is a worthy and noble one. The problem is how to support non-metadata aware formats (like TXT or GIF) and how to support moving files between diverse filesystems.

    To solve the first issue, you could say that, for TXT, you could store extensible metadata in the index, but that means that information about that file is now not attached to the file anymore and a rebuild of the index would destroy all the metadata.

    Regarding the second issue, attaching metadata to an NTFS alternate data stream would bind the data to the file, but it would be wiped out when moving the file to a non-NTFS system, like a CD/DVD or a OSX partition.

    It's a really tough problem to be resolved while keeping in mind backwards compatibility and portability.

  • User profile image
    TommyCarlier

    PaoloM said:
    brian.shapiro said:
    *snip*
    Brian, the goal of universal and pervasive metadata is a worthy and noble one. The problem is how to support non-metadata aware formats (like TXT or GIF) and how to support moving files between diverse filesystems.

    To solve the first issue, you could say that, for TXT, you could store extensible metadata in the index, but that means that information about that file is now not attached to the file anymore and a rebuild of the index would destroy all the metadata.

    Regarding the second issue, attaching metadata to an NTFS alternate data stream would bind the data to the file, but it would be wiped out when moving the file to a non-NTFS system, like a CD/DVD or a OSX partition.

    It's a really tough problem to be resolved while keeping in mind backwards compatibility and portability.
    Our company has some applications that are used for securely transmitting and receiving files. We attach metadata to ANY file, by just creating a second (or third) file next to it, with the same name and extension, and an additional extension. It's of course explicit and not very hidden, but it makes it pretty easy to copy a file with the attached metadata. Here's an example: if one of our applications receives a file named "TopSecret.txt", it stores extra metadata (file properties) in a file named "TopSecret.txt.t-props". If the file has one or more digital signatures, those are stored in a file named "TopSecret.txt.t-sig". A signed proof of receipt is also created and sent back to the original transmitter, as "TopSecret.txt.t-rcpt". The original file stays untouched and it works with any file system.

  • User profile image
    blowdart

    Larry Osterman said:
    blowdart said:
    *snip*
    Who gets to define the schema for a "contact"?  How about a "document"?

    Once you start thinking in those terms, you realize quite quickly that the idea of abstract "objects" can quickly become unworkable.  That's because Outlook's idea of what belongs in a contact object might be very different from Windows Mail's idea, which might be very different from Thunderbird's idea.

    Here's a really simple example:  To Outlook, an email address is a multivalued string property which lists all the possible email addresses for a particular recipient (there could be a dozen or so of them depending on the topology of your network).  To Windows Mail, an email address would be just an SMPT address.  To the email system I wrote back in high school, it's a RSTS-E account name ([<octal value>,<octal value>], to something else, it might be something totally different, with a totally different syntax.

    Now consider what happens when you use a contact in Outlook that was created by my high school email program?.  Outlook doesn't know how to send email to this contact, it doesn't even know how to interpret the address. 

    Can you guarantee that all clients of this object store all handle these cases properly? 

    This is just one small example of the kinds of interoperability problems you can get - this one is probably solvable, but there are others that aren't.
    Oh no, I realise the pain; but then if the OS had common objects, contact, address, telephone number, file metadata, calendar entry and you could register extensions ... like ... oh .... Active Directory .... and handlers for protocols like .... IE ....

    And ....

    Meh, you get the point.

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