Shipping WinFS Beta 1


My name is Quentin Clark, I run the Program Management team for WinFS – directing the team that is shaping WinFS.  Many of you have seen me on a few WinFS bits on Channel 9, and from the PDC in 2003.  I have been working on WinFS since 2002.  Overall, I’ve been at Microsoft for over 11 years – pursuing 1.0 projects the whole time everywhere from Office, to developer tools, to manageability software and now WinFS.
 
It’s a big milestone shipping WinFS Beta1 and being able to reconnect with a broader set of developers on what we are building.  WinFS is alive and well, and with Beta1 we are anticipating lots of feedback to help us continue to refine WinFS.
 
There were a few pieces of feedback we heard from customers at the PDC in 2003.  One was about making the technology available downlevel to Windows XP. Thus, Our Beta 1 bits that are being released today actually do work on XP. We’re still working on exactly which platforms to support for RTM – there are a set of difficult tradeoffs in terms of features that WinFS can support on each platform. We’re hoping that feedback from each of you will help us make these choices.
 
Another piece of feedback was concerns over the WinFS api’s being a different data access pattern than our existing managed code data access APIs.  Further, that our APIs were not aligned with broader data platform needs like OR mapping.  This was a big one, and as you explore the SDK and the APIs, you will see the beginnings of how we will be addressing this.  We are in the process of building-out the next version of ADO.NET to have new features that provide a data model, object-relational mapping, and flexible query infrastructure.  The new data model is about entities, and the WinFS data model of Item types is built on that model.  Looking through our SDK and code samples you will see how Items are composed of underlying entities.  OR mapping is a big requirement – WinFS is a very prescribed mapping (defining a type in WinFS generates both the underlying storage schema and the partial class to program to that type).  But the real-world has lots of requirements for flexible mapping – to existing data, to existing objects, etc.  On query, many of you have heard about Anders Hejlsberg’s work on Language Integrated Query – and the new ADO.NET functionality will plug directly underneath so that you can use the new query patterns on any entity data, including of course now WinFS Items. 
 
Lastly, there was technical feedback on the data model we previewed in the PDC build of WinFS.  Specifically links were not going to be enough for the types of relationships folks wanted to model.  People needed more standard relational ways of querying the data and relating between Items.  This has changed a lot, and the biggest part of it is the association model.  Today we have associations that are just based on properties – effectively a join between two Items in the store (like a Contact and a Document through an Author association).  We also have Link associations which use an intermediary entity to wire together two Items, like for ad-hoc links between items (like an annotation for example).  Supporting both types of associations will be key to enabling application developers to model a much wider variety of data models on WinFS.
 
All of this feedback was super-valuable, and we look forward to this Beta eliciting more feedback.  We are delivering this Beta at this early stage because the feedback is so important – we recognize WinFS will be a big change for the industry and we have to get it right.  It’s an amazing opportunity and responsibility.  I sometimes think how my young children (just toddlers) will only know WinFS as the filesystem – provided that we build WinFS correctly, and succeed with developers.  That’s where you come in.  Download the bits from MSDN and engage in the newsgroups where we can hear your feedback on what we’re doing right and what we need to change.


Author: Quentin Clark

Comments (56)

  1. XeroCool says:

    How about some lovely screenshots?

  2. Terje says:

    Excellent! Downloading…

  3. And unlike the Uncle you were told to stay away from as a child at family reunions, a welcome one…

  4. [edit] Make that virtually *no* documentation, aside from a small .chm file.  Doh! [/edit] And…

  5. WinFS Beta 1, including XP support, has been released and is now on MSDN!  (I’m downloading now,…

  6. Pascal Germroth says:

    Asking as a non-MSDN-Member (too pricey): when will there be a public beta (don’t mind the documentation… it’s much more fun without it, concentrate on programming :D)

  7. Quentin says:

    The documentation to look at is the SDK… it’s called "winfssdk.chm"

  8. abanker says:

    Will Win2K3 be supported soon?

  9. Marshall says:

    Sounds great can’t wait to try it.

    Pity it will still be in beta when Vista ships.

  10. Thats right, WinFS has just gone Beta 1 see the official Shipping WinFS Beta 1 thread on the WinFS blog…

  11. X.Static says:

    " The documentation to look at is the SDK… it’s called "winfssdk.chm"

    Ahh gotcha…I was looking at the seperate .chm dl from MSDN, which is pretty slim. Thx.

  12. [edit] Make that virtually *no* documentation, aside from a small .chm file.  Doh! [/edit] <–…

  13. Since you are an ex DEC guy, does this mean that Windows will have versions of files? Will we be able to throw away Source Safe? Also, what will be the point of SQL Server if we have a file system that is already relational?

  14. ShaolinTiger says:

    Hmm WinFS…

    A file system with a MS-SQL backend to manipulate the meta data…

    Who on earth would trust something as important as a file system when it’s based on something as unreliable as MS-SQL?

  15. ralphie says:

    Is there an sdk?

    Can we get the sdk?

  16. Robert Scoble has uploaded the WinFS video to Channel 9. Haven’t seen it myself yet, only just heard!…

  17. This is great news. With 1TB local file systems becoming common place, a different approach to file systems was sorely needed.

    I have applications that require me to store millions of photos and access them quickly. I’m hoping that the WinFS architecture will let me do that–we’re downloading the beta right now.

  18. I was under the impression that WinFS used MsSQL, and that the next version of MsSQL had OR mapping?

  19. robT says:

    best quote from slashdot:

    …You are (deliberately?) misunderstanding what WinFS is designed to accomplish.

    Locking out Linux/Samba clients and servers?

  20. Aaron says:

    Too bad it won’t install on VS 2005 August CTP. Any chance there will be another beta/CTP of WinFS soon after VS 2005 RTMs?

  21. Nathan says:

    Um, why is it called a File System when its just a DB file in the root of the disk that holds the meta data? Where is the magic? Its just NTFS with some metadata gubbins bolted on. I don’t see innovation here. I see a kludge.

  22. Smeagol says:

    Anyone know if WinFS can use other types of storage other than NTFS as the back-file storage? Can I do CIFS to a different storage platform for example? That would be way cool.

  23. Will says:

    Will you guys be opening up the information on this file system so it can be accessed from other operating systems? Its been how many years now and there’s still no true support in linux for NTFS.

  24. [edit] Make that virtually *no* documentation, aside from a small .chm file.  Doh! [/edit] <–…

  25. Danny says:

    Hi Quentin, congratulations on the milestone!

    RDF enthusiasts (like myself) are eagerly waiting in the wings for a public release. Firstly to see how the system lines up against the Semantic Web technology stack (RDF/OWL/SPARQL etc), secondly to bridge between that stack and WinFS.

    Now if I understand correctly from previous conversations with MS people, when it comes to adopting standards MS tends to take an all-or-nothing approach. But I do think it would be in the interests of WinFS (and the world in general) for MS to assist in making it RDF-compatible. Historically the RDF community has been good on theory and breadth of capability, slower on implementation. From what I’ve seen of WinFS I’d hazard the characterization that it’s the simplest implementation of a graph data model with typed nodes that could work. Good on implementation, slower on theory and breadth. The work that has been done on RDF over the past few years can offers solid formal foundations for directions in which WinFS could grow.

    But this is hand-waving. How about this practical scenario – you have a WinFS store designed to hold data collected by an RSS aggregator. You would like to extend its support into the review data that is beginning to be published through extended RSS and microformats. The back-end can support the arbitrary extension, the front end can parse in the data, but what shared model can be used to integrate the extension with the core RSS (+lists) model? I’d suggest RDF, its capability as a common model in this kind of circumstance has already been proved. (As it happens the work’s already well under way to do exactly this kind of thing with RDF stores, using GRDDL to interpret the source data).

    (a few blog posts on the subject: http://dannyayers.com/index.php?s=winfs&submit=Search+Archives )

  26. Ron says:

    According to the one blog elsewhere the installation needs .NET beta 2.

    Since when a Filesystem needs some kind of virtual machine? Sounds odd atm.

  27. LiFers says:

    I hope part of the goal of WinFS was to radically reinvent bit storage rather than just our world of data.

    Lots of developers have shown that old technologies no longer cut it. Where’s the research into wandering logs/journals? Data modeling and growth prediction? Online resizers? Built in defragmentation? Small file packing? More intelligent caches? Fully atomic operations?

    And why can’t we do it all faster than we do it now?

    AND have your SQL engine on top?

  28. Wally says:

    Does anyone know if WinFS runs on a 64 bit OS at this point?

    Wally

  29. Tim Pfeifer says:

    Although I (mostly) use GNU/Linux as my primary operating system, I follow the developement of Microsoft Windows where ever possible. Now that there are more and more Blogs from the dev teams at Microsoft this isn’t only for jounalists anymore.

    Now my question…

    ReiserFS (Version 4 in particular) tries to blur the borders between databases and filesystems.

    Hans Reiser said that "the need for databases is an indicator that the filesystem developers didn’t do their job right". So as I see it, WinFS and ReiserFS have some goals in common.

    How would you compare WinFS to ReiserFS. Are there any similarities? What is different?

    Thanks,

    Tim

  30. The news is out (see paragraph four specifically)  on what I have been working on for the…

  31. Andrei says:

    No, 64-bit platforms are not supported in Beta 1.

  32. Andrei Maksimenka says:

    2 Tim:

    Now my question…

    ReiserFS (Version 4 in particular) tries to blur the borders between databases and filesystems.

    Hans Reiser said that "the need for databases is an indicator that the filesystem developers didn’t do their job right". So as I see it, WinFS and ReiserFS have some goals in common.

    How would you compare WinFS to ReiserFS. Are there any similarities? What is different?

    According to Reiser’s paper at http://www.namesys.com/whitepaper.html, he’s trying to create a keyword-based description model for data, while WinFS essentially provides object-relational mapping based on user-defined and system-provided schemas which describe that mapping. In WinFS, users are able to use queries simialar to SQL to uniformly manipulate both file and native (non-file) items and links. WinFS effectively is a relational data storage but it also combines it with the power of keyword-based model with the search capabilities based on full-text and keyword information for items from the WinFS store. In this sense it’s more flexible and powerful than ReiserFS described above. I doubt that purely keyword-based storage (or file system) is the only answer to uniform storage needs.

    Andrei

  33. 阿杰 says:

    怎么没有下载地址呀?

  34. JoeW says:

    Quentin

    You mentioned C#3 OR mapping. Will WinFS be dependent on the compiler upgrades – will the API be dependent on the expression tree, for example.

    I personally think this would make sense, rather than trying to do your own OR mapping.

  35. Umer Hanif says:

    Hello Mr. Quentin,

    Nice to see that WinFS is alive and is now on the front scenes. I had always been excited about 2 pieces of technology i.e Avalon and WinFS and the Avalon people had been really good at making CTPs available on the internet but now that WinFS has a beta available i m really excited about it!!!

    I have a request, Please make it available on a public download basis because MSDN is expensive!!!

    Hoping for a positive response.

    Good Luck!!

    Umer.

  36. Alex James says:

    Nice, I find your comments about less prescribed mappings very interesting. I have been working on my own mini WinFS for a while called Base4. and about 3 months ago, I decided it needed a major refactor to support flexible mappings. More in my post.

    Alex

  37. Andrea says:

    Well better late than never i suppose…

  38. theCoach says:

    I am limited to a single machine for installing betas. It currently has Vista on it, but I am very interested in WinFS — to me it was by far the most interesting aspect of the Longhorn plan — is there a way, or some guidance as to get it installed on Vista, or a timeframe that we can use to evaluate what to do with limited resources? Thanks

  39. Hyujin says:

    Hi to all.

    In NTFS we have shared folders in a network, what about in WinFS?

  40. Lordmike says:

    Interresting reading on the WinFS beta 1.

    http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/winfs_preview.asp

  41. Vivek says:

    I had one very basic question about the implementation of WinFS.

    As I understand it there is a close relationship between SQL Server and WinFS implementations. All the metadata about files, I expect is stored in the relational DB.

    The actual content of the files is that also stored in a DB or is it stored as a regular file in NTFS and just the metadata is in DB.

    I was just curious about the implementation as we are looking at a similar implementation issue for us and wanted to leverage some ideas from WinFS.

  42. Andrei says:

    > Hi to all.

    > In NTFS we have shared folders in a network, > what about in WinFS?

    Yes, you absolutely can share folders in WinFS just like any NTFS folder.

  43. apropos says:

    I’m still a little confused how this project is projected to be two *years* in beta, and that’s not counting the years of development before Beta 1. That’s a LONG time. Operating Systems take that long.

  44. Simon says:

    WinFS is *NOT* a file system!!

    "The oft-misunderstood Windows Future Storage (WinFS), which will include technology from the ‘Yukon’ release of SQL Server, is not a file system, Mark Myers told me. Instead, WinFS is a service that runs on top of–and requires–NTFS. ‘WinFS sits on top of NTFS,’ he said. ‘It sits on top of the file system. NTFS will be a requirement.’"

    http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/winfs_preview.asp

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  46. careers says:

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  47. Dating says:

    My name is Quentin Clark, I run the Program Management team for WinFS – directing the team that is shaping WinFS. Many of you have seen me on a few WinFS bits on Channel 9, and from the PDC in 2003. I have been working on WinFS since 2002. Overall, I’v

  48. Weddings says:

    My name is Quentin Clark, I run the Program Management team for WinFS – directing the team that is shaping WinFS. Many of you have seen me on a few WinFS bits on Channel 9, and from the PDC in 2003. I have been working on WinFS since 2002. Overall, I’v