WinFS Still In The Works Despite Missing Vista

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At the Windows Vista business launch Thursday in New York, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged that the Redmond, Wash., company bit off more than it could chew when it promised WinFS for Vista. And even though that was cut from Vista, Microsoft continues to work on the system for a future version of Windows, he said.

Ballmer wouldn't say if WinFS would make it into the next major version of Windows, code-named Vienna. But he did say that Microsoft learned from its mistakes.

WinFS, a unified file and storage system envisioned by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, is designed to create a common data repository for all Microsoft operating systems and applications. Microsoft has long promised that Windows, Exchange and SQL Server would share the same repository, but that hasn't come to fruition in Vista or Exchange Server 2007, which along with Office 2007 also launched Thursday.

"Time is a funny thing. The tail between Windows XP and Vista was really three periods. One period we were working hard on a variety of technologies and probably trying to do too many things and integrate them too quickly," Ballmer said, referring to the widely publicized delay of WinFS. "We lost some cycle time, then we did a service pack in one year [that was] very focused on security. And we did most of what you see in Vista in two and a half years."

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Ballmer noted that new technology needs "time to incubate" before it's integrated with other technology. "We tried to build a new UI on top of a new presentation foundation, integrate a new file system and a new communications foundation and a new programming model simultaneously," he said at the Vista press conference at Nasdaq headquarters. "Now we're letting them come to market individually and will get feedback before we try to integrate them together."

For example, Microsoft decided to port key Vista .Net 3.0 technologies such as workflow, communications and presentation foundations to Windows XP. In the future, Ballmer said, Microsoft will continue developing on the graphics and video fronts to take advantage of the massive bandwidth and processing power being made available by network providers and multicore processors being made available by Intel and AMD.