Don't Look Now: WinFS Rears Its Head Again

Well, kind of. On Monday, Microsoft made available beta 1 of the subsystem to MSDN members and will make the same code available to attendees of its Professional Developers Conference 2005 in Los Angeles next month.

There was, however, no new news on timing of the final release. WinFS will still not make it into initial shipments of the Longhorn, or Windows Vista client next year, or the as-yet-unnamed Longhorn Server in 2007, said Quentin Clark, director of program management for WinFS at Microsoft.

The goal of the early bits is to give developers an early look at the base file system, related APIs and gather feedback, Clark told CRN.

"Beta one is the base relational file system, you can put files in and get to them through the Win32 APIs….Since PDC 2003, the APIs have changed somewhat, managed code APIs now, synchronization adapters and a set of services atop the APIs that have evolved," he noted.

Sponsored post

The delays to WinFS, along with the ripple effect they had on other products including SQL Server and Exchange Server have added up to a credibility problem for Microsoft. Company executives spent much of the last PDC two years ago talking up the advantages of these Longhorn pillars only to have to drastically delay deliveries and even pull some planned functionality forward into existing Windows servers. One company insider even quipped that at this year's show, they could re-run the same sessions without much change. "Nothing we talked about has shipped," he noted. Not for attribution.

Clark said not to expect any more Community Technical Previews (CTPs) or beta releases of WinFS between PDC 2005 and next year.

Clark and Tom Rizzo, director of SQL Server/WinFS, said the final product will be worth the wait. "My children, who are very, very small, will never know anything but WinFS. We have to get this right," Clark said.

It is unclear exactly how much application code will need to be rewritten to move from the current Windows NT File System (NTFS) to WinFS.