Developers Finally See Tantalizing Bits Of WinFS


More developers can get a look at the software at the company&s Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles next week. Despite these first whiffs of information, the file system won&t make it into the initial release of either the Windows Vista client due next year, or the still-unnamed Longhorn Windows server due in 2007, said Quentin Clark, director of program management for WinFS at the Redmond, Wash., company.

Even so, some testers say the early bits—which include the base file system and associated APIs—are solid and useful. “You can import files and it's there and running,” said one tester. “It knows a lot more about the files than the current NTFS [file system] because it sees the meta data. That meta data is in the store and is searchable, indexable [and] filterable,” he said.

The early beta also includes an Explorer-like tool, code-named Storespy, to ease file searches.

The fact that the system seems to recognize existing files promises some degree of compatibility with data created by older applications. But to take full advantage, applications will need to be tweaked to become WinFS aware.

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“WinFS has deep knowledge of files and folders,” said the beta tester. “You can do things to expose more about the information, whether it&s a contact name, a message, a schedule entry, meeting request or picture.”

Developers will need to register their applications to the file system and assign a schema to take full advantage “so that the file system can link associated items,” he noted.

Additional beta releases or Community Technical Previews of WinFS will start next year, Clark said. When WinFS becomes generally available, Vista—and ostensibly Windows XP users—will be able to download it as a Windows Update, sources said. WinFS would not overwrite the existing NTFS file system, however.