Update to the Update

Hi. Wow there has been a lot of, let’s say, interest in the posting Friday. I knew there would be interest, and I knew that the news that we would not ship WinFS as a separate thing would make news, but didn’t expect quite the thread lengths we are seeing! Whew.

There are obviously a lot of questions on people’s minds. So I post again today trying to answer some of them. To those who think I am not a real person but rather a name in front of PR machinery – that’s just not true. I am flesh and blood – with a job, a team, and a passion for what we have been pursuing in WinFS. And even a life outside of Microsoft Building 35 with a wife, kids and other interests. Certainly seems like I might have been too careful in wording last week – was not my intention to offend bloggers everywhere, really.

OK, here are the questions/answers.

Is WinFS dead?
Yes and No. Yes, we are not going to ship WinFS as a separate, monolithic software component. But the answer is also No - the vision remains alive and we are moving the technology forward. A lot of the technology really was database stuff – and we’re putting that into SQL and ADO. But some of the technology, especially the end user value points, are not ready, and we’re going to continue to work on that in incubation. Some or all of these technologies may be used by other Microsoft products going forward.

Does your plan for WinFS have any impact on Windows Vista?
There is no impact on Windows Vista. We announced back in August 2004 that WinFS would not be in Windows Vista.

Will the "Relational Filesystem" ever be in Windows?
Hey – we are very busy finishing Vista, and just aren’t ready to talk about what comes next. The vision for a richer storage in Windows is very much alive.  With the new tools for searching and organizing information in Windows Vista, we are taking a good step towards that vision.  

Why are parts of WinFS going into SQL Server?
We have a vision around data that guides us we call the "Data Platform Vision". We’ve been talking with customers about this for some time, and we have heard consistent positive feedback. It was clear that the integrated storage and automation features of WinFS will help SQL Server deliver on the "Beyond Relational" and "Continuous Availability and Automation" promises of that vision. We decided to focus resources on delivering these technologies to our customers as part of the Data Platform Vision in the near term.

What's the upside to developers?
We believe that including some of the WinFS work in SQL will broaden which developers will benefit from that database, and further we believe the ADO.NET for Orcas innovations will make using a database a lot easier and more productive for developers. Our Data Platform Vision talks about Your Data, Any Place, Any Time. It’s a compelling vision, and we will continue to invest in the desktop versions of SQL (SQL Express and now SQL Everywhere) as well as the Server.

What is a ship vehicle? Why does it matter that WinFS is not a "separate ship vehicle"?
A ship vehicle is the method in which we bring a technology to market. This could be a separate product release, a service pack to an existing product, or an integrated technology in a larger product platform. We announced the removal of WinFS from Longhorn two years ago, and talked about WinFS being a separate ship vehicle. But we are no longer are planning to release a separate WinFS delivery vehicle.

Was WinFS "killed" because of its design?
No. In fact, the Beta was coming together really well. People have speculated on "redesigns." The original goals of WinFS have never changed, but the technology we are building isn’t easy – so we did take a number of internal design changes and re-writes. And I am not going to apologize for that. Getting the relational engine to behave and perform like the Windows filesystem isn’t a matter of a few lines of code – it has to be done very carefully and architected right. The bars on performance, compatibility, etc. are all super high.

Why did Microsoft announce this now after talking about WinFS at TechEd so recently?
When we were at TechEd, we had not made the decision. Sure, it was under discussion, but we did not have all the information we needed and we had not made the call yet. We did share the news as soon as we had the final word. We could have waited longer to disclose the information and made the change in plans less of a contrast, but we chose to notify people as soon as we could. This is why we used the blog and didn’t fire-up the big MS PR machinery – that takes time.

Author: Quentin Clark

Comments (107)

  1. Quentin Clark has posted an update to the WinFS update and answers some of the questions that came since…

  2. Gabe says:

    Can you post any details on exactly how it will be split up? That is, which parts are shipping with which products?

  3. Ryan says:

    Thanks for the further explanation! This would have slowed the rumor mill substantially simply by being this forthright.

    Here are the issues that I have with what you’re saying, though.  First, you say, "Some or all of these technologies may be used by other Microsoft products going forward."  In other words, you’re relieving yourselves of further obligation to what people have been excited about for the past three years.  There’s no commitment to a relational filesystem anymore; if it happens, groovy, if not, oh well.  If you were as close as you’ve suggested, then why not simply follow through?  I think you can tell by the feedback that your customers are definitely NOT happy about this decision.  It’s great for SQL–and most of us use SQL as well–but it is definitely not the same thing as the WinFS we’ve been following for the past 3 years.

    Furthermore, you state, "There is no impact on Windows Vista. We announced back in August 2004 that WinFS would not be in Windows Vista."  That is not true.  It will not affect Vista’s *release*, but it does affect it long-term–you did not announce that it would *never* be in Vista.  It is very well-known that the plan was to release WinFS at a later date for Vista.

    If the beta was "really coming together," this just doesn’t make a lot of sense, unless it is a marketing decision (stepping on SQL’s toes) or something like that.  But if that is the case–that you want to avoid eating SQL Server sales–I think Microsoft is missing the point. A pervasive installed base of WinFS at the core of Windows would produce a far greater payoff long-term, adding tremendous value to the Windows platform–spurring upgrades and thwarting competitors.  (And I’m not even sure that would affect SQL that much–it still is necessary for lots of jobs.)

  4. Mike says:

    "We announced back in August 2004 that WinFS would not be in Windows Vista." : I remember Microsoft also said that this would be an add-on shortly after Vista ships.

  5. Klaus Enevoldsen says:

    Thank you for the clear talk, the first update (the update before the update to the update) was, I think, a bit vauge.

    Now I look forward to learning more about Entities and I suppose LINQ integration. Where can we continue to learn more about the new ADO.NET and SQL Server technologies? Is this blog still going to be updated?

    Thank you

  6. Erwyn van der Meer says:

    I’ve seen Quentin at PDC05, so I can attest to the fact that he is a real person working at Microsoft. Don’t know about the wife and kids though 😉

    Thanks Quentin for this more down-to-earth blog post with a lot less marketing spin to it.

    I agree with Dare that part of the communication problem is the gap between WinFS (well, the vision for it) as it was presented to developers at PDC03 and what WinFS currently seems to stand for.

  7. Kevin Daly says:

    See, that didn’t hurt, did it? 🙂

    I think what triggered the gag reflex (and I don’t mean jokes) in so many of us (and yes I admit I did use the phrase "creepily disingenuous". Sorry.) was that there was a little too much of the cup-half-full thing about the orginal announcement: that’s never likely to go down all that well with experienced developers, because we are after all paid to keep our eyes on the down side of anything we do (if I don’t spend a lot of my time thinking "What could go wrong?" you can be sure that Bad Things Will Happen). With lots of competing factors and interests to consider it’s understandably difficult to strike just the right tone however, so I’m glad you’ve taken the trouble to attempt clarification.

  8. Sander says:

    I was under the impression that Microsoft had said WinFS wouldn’t be in Vista when it was launched. Not that it wouldn’t be ready for the whole of Vista’s lifespan, which seem what you (the author) are saying. I think a lot of people were still counting on it becoming available shortly or later after the launch of Vista.

  9. Sean Adams says:

    I’m frankly quite saddened about this – Microsoft has moved towards upgrading the file-system so many times, and then backed away from it, essentially consigning this to the bucket marked "too hard!".

    WinFS; the new driver model; secure managed code are without any doubt the biggest aspects for me in what was the original Longhorn drive.  WinFS, and a relational file-system is so badly needed RIGHT now, that it’s really tragic that the team are being pulled away to deal with some rubbish on ADO.NET for Orcas (which the ADO.NET team or the SQL Server team could have picked up), and this will further prevent Microsoft from really committing the team to the investment needed in making a new file-system a reality.

    Yes – the file system is a real and massive constraint right now.  It’s also one of the oldest parts of the platform.  So – making a decision to distract the team from the mission by asking them to get involved in something else really is a true pity.

    I’m very saddened – WinFS was, for me, the beginning of a new revolution in the way that consumers think about and use data – and this chance has been squandered.


  10. I think this post helps clear up some of the issues that came out of the previous post but I think it muddies the waters as well.

    As Ryan says ‘if the beta was really coming together’ then why has it now evaporated? The ‘why’ of the piece is missing, for me. Why has the project been disbanded?

    I appreciate the update and I appreciate you are a human so I don’t want this debate to get offensive as I think it did, at points, on the previous post. Also, I understand that not every project gets to its endpoint and that cannibalising the technology work you had already done is common-sense…. I just think we need to know the ‘why’ of this failure rather than the outcomes.


  11. Alex James says:

    Hey Quentin that’s more like it. Good to see the big machine has a human fact after all…

  12. OPC Diary says:

    What’s in Store : Update to the Update 前…

  13. But the upshot is, WinFS is probably not going to be delivered as a File System in the forseeable future, Damn shame really, I was looking forward to it. Has microsoft become too bogged down in its own technology?, Will we never see serious core innovations from this company again due to the drain of maintaining a compatibility legacy?. Microsoft could put the frameworks in place today to begin to change the installed software base to a more flexible API set and allow a streamlined delivery of entirely new technology paradigms such as winFS in the future, but instead we see incremental changes and transparent UI’s while exciting new technologies become relagated to dusty filing cabinets. I must admit to being underwhelmed by the new features offered in vista and now the cherry i was hanging out for has been snipped from the tree.

  14. Am letzten Freitag wurde die Entscheidung bekannt gegeben, dass wir WinFS nicht als seprates Stück Software…

  15. Steve says:

    While it’s a shame to see WinFs go away it nice to see the open honesty about why it happened and what its future looks like.  Thanks,


  16. Just Passing By says:

    Is it just me, or

    Was WinFS "killed" because of its design?

    No. In fact, the Beta was coming together really well.


    …the technology we are building isn’t easy – so we did take a number of internal design changes and re-writes… The bars on performance, compatibility, etc. are all super high.

    just do not line up?

  17. From the WinFS Team blog: Update to the Update.

    Is WinFS dead?Yes and No. Yes, we are not going to…

  18. Jordan Terrell says:

    Quentin – I certainly appreciate your more candid update.  However, I would like to be just as candid.

    I don’t believe those within Microsoft who made this decision realize the importance of WinFS to the future of the Windows platform.  Granted, what has been done with Vista is very cool, but as far as what will really drive businesses and users to upgrade to Vista – and feel that it is worth it – I whole heartedly believe that was WinFS.  Not that many outside of the developer community would understand what WinFS is, but the types of applications and scenarios it would have enabled who have attracted people in droves.  It would have certainly attracted developers in droves to write software on your platform, that perhaps would not before.  It was on one thing that would eventually be in Vista that got me TRULY excited.

    I urge you and anyone else with the ability to make a reversal on this decision – I urge you in the STRONGEST possible terms – continue your work on WinFS as a relational file system – be more transparent about the development process and the difficulties you’ve had – seek the assistance of the great development community Microsoft has built – simplify your approach if needed – and make this happen.  I *HONESTLY* think Vista being *perceived* as anything other than a simple visual upgrade or XP SP3 depends on it.  I *HONESTLY* think that a good measure of Microsoft actual and perceived success depends on this.  I *HONESTLY* think that without WinFS and without the scenarios it enables, those who coyly say they are going to find operating system other alternatives, might actually do so.

  19. bananahead says:

    Was WinFS "killed" because of its design?

    No. In fact, the Beta was coming together really well. People have speculated on "redesigns." The original goals of WinFS have never changed, but the technology we are building isn’t easy – so we did take a number of internal design changes and re-writes. And I am not going to apologize for that. Getting the relational engine to behave and perform like the Windows filesystem isn’t a matter of a few lines of code – it has to be done very carefully and architected right. The bars on performance, compatibility, etc. are all super high.

    Pardon me, but this is just absolute crap.  What you are really saying is that WinFS collapsed uder its own weight.  Just like the last few ‘big bets’ made by members of the WinFS team, this one was flawed from the beginning.

    How can the beta be ‘coming together quite well’ while at the same time be requiring architectual changes at this late hour?  Microsoft used to be a great software company, however it seems like its ability to actually create what it pre-sells to the market has gone.

    This is a sad day, and you, Quentin, should be very very embarassed that it has happened again on your watch.

  20. This last weekend Quentin issued a press release via two posts on the WinFS blog announcing that WinFS…

  21. Sahil Malik says:

    Good luck to you guys; I hope you can put the voices to rest with what you have in works.

  22. CynicalGeek says:

    I think since the "three pillars" have been removed from Vista, we now wonder why we should double or quadruple our RAM and spend $300 per workstation on software.

  23. MSDN Archive says:


    Best place for for getting more on ADO.NET and LINQ to Entities are:

    the ADO.NET team blog:


    and the MSDN Data site:


  24. buildere says:

    Sorry, but this doesn’t make sense. You had WinFS "almost" ready for beta2. Why stop now? Who (outside of MS) said they don’t wan’t WinFS anymore? Either you were lying when you said how much WinFS was getting ready, or you are not saying what the real reason for dropping it is. No sane customer would want you to stop working on WinFS. Why don’t delay it further, if the problem was in the development?

  25. Brian says:

    Quentin’s followup still is spin.  "Hey, we’re still busy finishing Vista" is a strawman since WinFS was already decoupled from it.

    The worst of it is that any information, demos, predictions of a radical way to change the way people work, etc, involving WinFS or any future renaming, will be treated with skepticism.  "Yeah, whatever…" will be the response people will feel.

    Try it yourself: go back and read about WinFS in MSDN blogspace… is it even interesting to read anymore?  It’s fiction, and innovative thing that Microsoft wants to get developers excited about is fiction too.

    Is Monad next?


  26. Bad call says:

    This is real bad news, I think many of us customers and developers want’s you to rethink this decision. WINFS is a breakthrough and we/users need it, the dumbed down search and virtual folder implementation in Vista doesn’t come close to the possibilities with WINFS (even with the original implementation that was more powerful) and custom schemas, even without the custom schemas this is extremely useful.  And yes you will get feedback in that this is not a good idée and it’s too complex files/items seems to be at multiple places, but this can be worked on with education and good user interfaces, take the simple case where we talk about photos and related to contact and events, some of this can be solved with tagging like existing in Vista today, but you will easily see the limit where tagging isn’t going to solve it in a easy way(this simple example can be easily related to all that doesn’t understand relational file system). And I have only mentioned the simple user cases(with a few percent of the functionality in winfs)  and there are millions of other cases in applications and enterprise applications this Is even more useful and have use for more of the features presented in winfs.  

    I now many of my customers were very interested in this and it is a real shame that we can’t  get this and a major loss to the users and other vendors  and partners  even to ms  this was to be a new revolution in how we could use computers.


  27. Those of you eagerly awaiting beta 2 of WinFS should

    note that WinFS has been canned. Well thats my…

  28. Brian says:

    Vista is already late, so just take your time with winFS, no need for rush, Its already late, just take your time and make Vista all good and nice. NO need for the rush to meet deadlines.

  29. Karim says:

    <i>> Is WinFS Dead?  Yes and no.</i>

    <b>TRANSLATION:</b> Yes.

    <i>> Yes, we are not going to ship WinFS as a separate, monolithic software component.</i>

    <b>TRANSLATION:</b> We are not going to ship WinFS.  Ever.

    <i>> the vision remains alive</i>

    <b>TRANSLATION:</b> Unfortunately the current version of Visual Studio does not support compiling visions.

    <i>> But some of the technology, especially the end user value points, are not ready</i>

    <b>TRANSLATION:</b> Of course, by "end user value points," I mean "stuff people will use."

    <i>> and we’re going to continue to work on that in incubation. </i>

    <b>TRANSLATION:</b> The thing about incubation is that it looks like nothing is happening, from the outside of the egg.  Of course, it could be an unfertilized egg, or a dead chick, so maybe nothing IS happening.  You’ll just never know, will you?  Incubation is a tricky business.  The Norwegian Blue prefers kippin’ on its back…

    <i>> Some or all of these technologies may be used by other Microsoft products going forward.</i>

    <b>TRANSLATION:</b> Or, they may not.

    <i>> There is no impact on Windows Vista. We announced back in August 2004 that WinFS would not be in Windows Vista. </i>

    <b>TRANSLATION:</b> Like Senator Kerry, we voted for the $87 billion for WinFS before we voted against it.  Besides, removing features does not impact anything because you don’t have to code a feature that isn’t there.  We could even remove the Start Menu and it would not impact Windows Vista.

    <i>> Hey – we are very busy finishing Vista, and just aren’t ready to talk about what comes next.</i>

    <b>TRANSLATION:</b> We’ve been slaving over a hot CPU all day, so back off with the hard questions already.

    <i>> The vision for a richer storage in Windows is very much alive.</i>

    <b>TRANSLATION:</b> Of course, it’s in the intensive care unit hooked up to a respirator and pacemaker and has to be fed intravenously, but technically, it’s still alive.

    <i>> We could have waited longer to disclose the information and made the change in plans less of a contrast, but we chose to notify people as soon as we could.</i>

    <b>TRANSLATION:</b> Some people complained that we spun the original story by telling you that killing off WinFS was what "customers wanted."  Some people said that was "bull."  But we gave you bull as soon as we could!  We blogged our bull instead of waiting for our PR company to write bull.  We are trying our best to give you a load of bull as quickly as possible, and you’re still ungrateful.  What is wrong with you people???

  30. This is a sad day for all of us following the development of WinFS.

    I’m one of those people who have used Microsoft software since I first laid hands on a computer over ten years ago. Back then it was the old Microsoft BASIC which did it for me. Ever since then I was hooked and not once did I look back at the other guys. Follow that up with MS-DOS 5 and learning about EMS and XMS memory. Shortly after Windows 3.1 came Windows 95 and NT 4.0. I remember dutifully waiting to have my hard drive formatted to NTFS just to see how much had improved from FAT and FAT32!

    Now I see such a sad state of affairs going on in a company which I has truly made a difference in the way I have used my PC and I can’t help but feel disillusioned. WinFS was for me, and a lot of my peers, to be the next step in storing data, in organizing it into a more meaningful and structured manner. It was, I had hoped, a way to fight the chaos that will plague our lives with our multi-gigabyte hard drives and gazillion files. It was, I had been led to believe, going to be the pinacle of all the work that had been put into file systems and relational databases since these had been invented.

    And now I (we) have been let down.

  31. Weatherman says:

    BTW: Is there anything Microsoft has to compete with stuff like Apple’s Spotlight? Since last Friday, MacOS started looking more sexy somehow… Not that I’d be willing to shift but all of the alternatives that I simply dismissed as not as innovative as the upcoming Microsoft stuff look suddenly… More real than a bunch of ‘visions’. Can’t program to visions, only to SDKs. Sorry, guys. I know  you’re working hard. But not in a direction I’d appreciate.

  32. Quentin Clark from the WinFS Team comes back at us with some… shall we say clarifications… on&amp;nbsp;last&amp;nbsp;Friday’s…

  33. I really don’t know what the big deal is over this really. Were people expecting WinFS to organize their brains? I am just fine with fast search technology in Vista/Longhorn, I just wish the team could improve performance of the indexer, I have 2.6 GBs of RAM in my system, 3.2 Ghz HT processor and it takes forever to index the entire hard disk.

    I also wish the team could focus on fixing the Windows Desktop Search utility, it has issues with Explorer, and boggs down my XP system, it doesn’t index when I want it to  either. I also, it has taken up my taskbar real estate, why not make it work like spotlight, click it when I want it approach.

    Right now, I am on Vista and from what I am seeing, Search is in the right direction.

  34. Wesley Parish says:

    Nice to know there are people in Microsoft with a "Human Face" (TM) 😉

    "Honesty" (TM) is also nice, as is "Openness" (TM).

    When all’s said and done, Vista (TM)’s still going to be late, the "exciting new technology" (TM) is going to be "submarined" (TM) where it won’t be "visible" (TM) and thus not nearly as "exciting" (TM).

    "Seriously" (TM) I believe that Microsoft won’t be able to make up from this "blunder" (R) The White House.  There are several database file systems already under development for Linux, some of which use the Internet.

    I do get the feeling Microsoft is slowly rolling back "expectations" (TM), in the hopes of surviving the "Next" (TM) few years.

  35. rei says:

    Quentin, can you please explain "incubation"?

    From what I understand, it sounds like "not funded", "without a final product" and "postponed indefinitely".

    Value points will come with time, given WinFS is shipped. A lot of people were reluctant to switch to computers when they did everything on pen and paper, and Microsoft changed this. It’s time to do that again.

    Listen to us Windows customers: continue working on WinFS with its original vision and under its original name, and give us the final product whenever it’s ready.

  36. Zaki says:

    Quentin, congratulations. You can PR-spin a PR-spin. The bottle is not half-full. Matter of fact it is not even half-empty anymore.

    "A lot of the technology really was database stuff – and we’re putting that into SQL and ADO. But some of the technology, especially the end user value points, are not ready, and we’re going to continue to work on that in incubation."

    You have a concept filesystem based on a database. You remove the filesystem, you have a database. You put this into a… database. Nice move. Wasn’t WinFS supposed to be on top of SQLServer anyway? You just removed WinFS and that’s that. WinFS is dead, period.

    "Hey – we are very busy finishing Vista"

    Didn’t you happen to say that WinFS has no impact on Vista?

    "We believe that including some of the WinFS work in SQL will broaden which developers will benefit from that database"

    Whereas putting the technology into Windows would reduce the number of developers I assume.

    "No. In fact, the Beta was coming together really well."

    We can see that, can’t we?

    Microsoft loses its trust once again. Shame. It most prominently lost the trust of Microsoft advocates by making a fool of them. Go figure. Read the comments.

  37. PatriotB says:

    Weatherman — Windows Desktop Search offers much of what Spotlight offers, in terms of basic search.  Vista will extend WDS to have Saved Search folders, like Spotlight has.  I’d imagine that the search features will be pretty much equivalent when Vista is released.

  38. Dark Knight says:

    WinFS wearing a red-tee found face down on the surface of a strage planet.

    McCoy to Kirk : "He’s Dead, Jim"

  39. hanishkvc says:

    Hi WinFS team,

    I use and experiment on many OSs.Even thou I have been using Linux as my main OS for a long time; becuase of my interests I also have windows and do keep track of it. I have tried winVista, agreed it is fancy looking (but bit slow, but at same time its still beta, so hope speed increases by final release) but currently don’t see it adding much value than a better access check mechanism for operations and a updated Graphics driver model which I believe is more XP SP3 material rather than the radical change that WinFS would have been.

    So hope you people keep WinFS going rather than abondening it.

  40. R.I.P. WinFS says:

    Can u please update on the status of Project Orange? Is it being ported to work off SQL Server or something?

  41. Molly C says:

    Some of you seem to be *intentionally* missing the point.

    It seems clear to me that Microsoft has not been able to come up with a refined end-user UI that encapsulates the functionality of WinFS, so they took the non-UI parts and put them into SQL and ADO.NET, so those parts wouldn’t be held hostage to the UI issue.  Microsoft will continue working on the UI, and if they can solve that problem, they’ll ship it.  There’s no big mystery here.


    As for something akin to Apple’s Spotlight, Microsoft has had Windows Desktop Search available for over a year (it used to be available only with MSN toolbar, but has since been available separately), and Vista’s desktop search improves on that.

  42. hanishkvc says:

    Just to clarify what I meant above when I told keep WinFS going. Agreed the possibilities around various applications of WinFS could be got by having a flexible attribute mechanism at the filesystem level and intelligent indexing and or storing of all datas (content data as well as all meta data).

    At one level it requires the WinFS core services to be available at one end and at the other level significant effort requires to be put in the applications so that they are woven around this core. And the system wide effort is what can give the power of this to all.

    So I hope microsoft moves towards this system wide coharence (implicitly or explicitly achived) in simplifying and powering up things for the end user, which most OS environments will move towards slowly.

  43. Duane Kithinji says:

    The dream lives on…


    Thanks clark but after all the hype that was generated about WINFS and the anticipation that came from it, the thought of not seeing WINFS as a relational file system on Windows Vista anytime soon also saddens the guys down in Kenya :-(. We were all looking forward to this "feature/product/whatever-works-for-you" and as a Microsoft partner, considered it to be one of the main selling points for the new OS and Windows as a platform in general, once it was released. Just when we thought we were finally going to have a great, new innovative technology at our fingertips, its pulled away. Guess its down to more waiting. Sad.Sniff Sniff.

  44. This sounds very much like it’s suffering for the same reasons as discussed here, in another recent eye-opening post about the overreaching of Microsoft’s development teams:


    The development staff is well-meaning, but, as most developers tend to be (admit it; we all are), they often completely underestimate the development effort.

    Problem is, when I underestimate the effort for a project to my boss, only a few people are disappointed if we are late and/or have to radically change plans.  When Microsoft does it, especially after trying to be open and share their enthusiasm for a new technology, THOUSANDS of people are disappointed, and careers / startups / plans based upon our dependency of Microsoft products are thrown in disarray.

    I think MS is between a rock and a hard place.  We want them to be open, and disclose their plans early so we are ready.  But then they risk disappointing us big time when they can’t meet those goals.  Would we feel differently if MS didn’t reveal their progress on WinFS?  Of course — we wouldn’t know from it.  But we have to be realistic.  If we want them to be more open and share early info with us, we have to expect to be let down at times.

  45. I represent Eastern developers of Europe (Russia and Ukraine) as a lead of Russian WinFS Community. We are sure that WinFS is the best offer that Microsoft ever would get to us. That means that we are the customers for you here, and we "WANT" WinFS as a standalone product, not a part of different products that may or not be using WinFS technologies in future.

    We Want WinFS Here In Russia and Ukraine!

    Let Developers from other countries to support us!

  46. Full of I.T. says:

    WinFS: What&amp;rsquo;s up?

    Readers who follow Microsoft news and blogs already have probably seen the buzz…

  47. Kalervo says:

    Thank you for your candor, but in a way this actually appears to made the situation worse.  Read your comments carefully.  They are not made by the typical anti-microsoft crowd, but rather by individuals (like myself) that use your products extensively and enjoy them.  WinFS was supposed to be a radical departure from the way files are stored now.  

    It was supposed to be a lot more than search.  The ability to make dynamic links between projects is the feature that leaps to mind immediately.  Futher, you actually had this working.  I have seen the videos from Beta 1.

    So, here is the evidence:

    1.)  You have a working prototype that has been hyped enormously.

    2.)  Your prototype is not limited to just Windows Vista, but is backwards compatible with XP.

    3.)  Your customers clearly want to use the technology.  In my own case, I was VERY excited to utilize the Windows Vista file scheme in a relational Medical Records System that we have been planning at my place of employment.

    4.)  It has been in development for YEARS and it is exceptionally close to actual release.

    With all of the above in place, some corporate ass-wipe still decided to pull the plug because it was "hard."  When you are so exceptionally close you decide to pull the plug without additional beta testing, despite enormous demand.

    So, if you don’t mind me asking… what idiot was responsible for that nut-crushing decision?  Is he still employed?  I certainly hope not.  I agree with the post above which defines this as a strategy blunder greater in magnitude than the Windows ME fiasco.

    To be clear, I still need that relational medical records system.  Now I either need to 1.)  Create a technology from SQL Server which will allow me to basic the same thing.  2.)  Move to another platform which has a better framework for letting me accomplish me goals.

    I have used Microsoft Products since the days of DOS, and I must say … For the first time in nearly 15 years, option number 2 is looking better than ever.

  48. SamDruk says:

    Klaus Enevoldsen: You can find out more about ADO.NET Entities at blogs.msdn.com/dataaccess

  49. Johnny says:

    Is anyone surprised by this move?  

    Vista being late surprised anyone?

    When was the last time Microsoft was "innovated" with tech?

    3 years after WinFS was announce, everyone just "believed" that Microsoft would deliver the "golden goose" of filesystem. Now, everyone is up in arms about the death.

    Personally, I follow the idea that anything from Microsoft will be believable once its delivered.

    Remember, Microsoft is a PR company that sells some softwares. They are good at convincing people that the "future" product will be the saving grace, at least until they pull the plug or miss deadline date.

    When Microsoft shows a "concept car" as a future product, just remind yourself…..

     "It will be late and then killed."

  50. Wan Link says:

    MS, you really dropped the ball by killing WinFS!!

  51. FredandBarney says:

    just in Time for Samba 4! Whoo Hoo!  Don’t have to worry about cross-compatability, NTFS is still NTFS!  And forget pesky CALs, expensive server licenses!  I can connect all of the machines to my Samba DC on AD2003 and everything is gonna be alright!

    You know this just about says it all.  I remember life before Linux, yes I had one of those, Dr. Dos, Basic, MS-DOS, Win3.11, man you guys really came out with some stuff then.  And you know even when Apple had already gone to market, you still truly made it sound like that idea about icons and those neat little folders were ‘really yours’.  Well guess those days are gone, you can’t come out with new products, only new ideas that can’t occur.  

  52. WinFS a fost anuntat cu surle si trambite ca fiind noul sistem de fisiere din viitorul sistem de operarea…

  53. As Microsoft blogger Quentin Clark eloquently put it, &quot;Wow.&quot;At the recent TechEd conference in Boston,…

  54. Here in Russia we think that WinFS would be more interesting staff than any other Microsoft offers or plan to offer (such as Katmai).

    And as we are developers – we are your Customers here.

    And we ask: Why do you want to close the solution that is needful for your Customers?

    It is not a good idea I think.


    Daniel A. Kornev,

    Microsoft Student Partner.

    This posting is provided AS IS and confers no rights.

  55. Bob says:

    Well, Microsoft the "King of Vaporware" strikes again.

    I thought it odd that MS would split WinFS from Vista/Longhorn in 2004, and wondered if it was yet another vaporware. With the beta releases I thought MS might actually build WinFS… but it seems like it was all marketing hype at this point.

    After working with computers for 26 years, my experience has been that you just cannot believe software promises until you have the actual product in your hand and can test it yourself.

    I fully expext someone will build a "Relational Filesystem", but with this faux-pax, I’m thinking that Microsoft won’t be the first one there. (perhaps not even the second) The idea just has too much mind-share at this point not to be built.

  56. Brian Grant says:

    Its clear to me that MS has become the beast it Killed (IBM) or at least drove out of the PC biz. Can MS actually deliver products anymore? That is without pushing back the time line and ripping out all the featchers that actually improve the OS  I mean other than a flashy wiz bang over hyped Areo Glass desktop is there any value in Vista. MS has been promising a new file system for ten years and has gone through two code names, Why don’t you just call the next attempt ‘Vapor’. Vista is going to be a bigger flop than ME was.  

  57. Super-Oranje says:

    We apologize for the overpromise and underdeliver on WinFS.  

    Those responsible have been sacked.

    Those responsible for sacking those that have been sacked, have been sacked.

  58. Fduch says:

    Will SQL server be part of next Microsoft OSes???

    Did I miss the point?

    What’s good in ruins of WinFS devoured by SQL Server for the Windows USER. Yeah, there are still some users of Microsoft operating system.

    Do Mr. Frankenstein want us to bootstrap MS SQL Server to our future application, that follow "Data Platform Vision"?

    Can MS answer these questions of their humble customer?

  59. Karim says:

    Molly C wrote:

    "It seems clear to me that Microsoft has not been able to come up with a refined end-user UI that encapsulates the functionality of WinFS, so they took the non-UI parts and put them into SQL and ADO.NET, so those parts wouldn’t be held hostage to the UI issue.  Microsoft will continue working on the UI, and if they can solve that problem, they’ll ship it.  There’s no big mystery here."

    So the only thing wrong with WinFS is that it’s missing "a refined end-user UI that encapsulates the functionality?"

    Was a search box, like, too hard or something?

    Nooo, nooo, we can’t have that.  Too easy.  Too simple.  Too much like a Macintosh.  Next thing you know you’ll be implementing easy-to-use, iTunes-style "Smart Playlists" instead of cryptic, Vista-style "Saved Searches."  Why make things easy when they can be complicated?

    How about shipping WinFS without a UI?  Last time I looked, the .NET Framework didn’t have much of a UI either, but developers seem to make good use of it anyway.

    But your argument is a canard.

    Most of the disappointment here is not that there were TECHNICAL challenges that Microsoft was apparently incapable of facing.  Failure happens.  I’m sure they’ll figure out a UI someday.

    Most of the disappointment has to do with how the failure was HANDLED:

    – We were told that killing WinFS was "a change we think you’ll like"

    – We were told that killing WinFS was merely a shift in "packaging strategy"

    – We were told killing WinFS was "what people were asking for"

    THEN, when people reacted disagreeably to this,

    – We were told "there is no impact on Windows Vista" even though WinFS was originally a "pillar" of Vista

    – We were given vague hints that pieces of WinFS "might" appear in other products

    – Instead of apologizing to customers for the delays and ultimate demise, we were told "I am not going to apologize" for the numerous redesigns

    – Instead of admitting error, we were told that this information was blogged as soon as possible — i.e. we should be GRATEFUL that we did not have to wait for the Wagg-Ed press release

    Failure happens every day.  Nobody’s perfect.  But when you fail, don’t tell customers that failure is what they wanted.  Don’t tell them that they’re not getting a "pillar" but that the missing pillar won’t impact the product.  Don’t fill your excuses with marketing euphemisms about "ship vehicles" and "packaging stragies" and happy-ass nonsense about the "vision" being "alive."  Don’t tell your customers that it was "really coming together well" in one breath and "it’s not going to ship" in the next.  Don’t tell your customers it won’t impact Vista, then claim you can’t talk about future products because you’re not done with Vista.

    Is it really a good idea to treat your customers like idiots?  I would have thought the answer to that question was "no big mystery" either.

  60. Former MS Employee did an interesting podcast about WinFS and trying to decide why to buy vista here:


    Really interesting.

    Hope this helps.


  61. I got a call from Cameron Reilly

    yesterday while he was recording a recent Gday World Podcast.


  62. WinFS dead!!!! says:

    Let’s accuse all, Microsoft of false pretenses!

  63. Joe says:

    This is sad news, but it can’t be helped.

    However, please, please, PLEASE extend the file tagging system in Windows Vista. It’s an ideal way of organizing files in many dynamic ways, and searching in a file’s properties is a massive improvement over other search implementations and a strong selling point for Vista, especially now that the original pillars seem to be removed from it.

    However, it’s not complete. Why can’t I tag or edit the properties of .txt or .gif files, for instance? The implementation in Beta 2 only alows me to easily find, access and organize my JPEGs and DOCs, but not my text files or .PNG’s. I can find anything easily, provided I only want to find a subset of the files on my system.

    If keywords for files could be stored in the index (or whatever implementation you may be able to think of), and we could tag -any- file, regardless of the file type, that would be a massive leap forward. -Please- extend upon this feature now that WinFS is no more.

  64. I’m sorry for everybody that was developing applications in anticipation of WinFS and is disappointed.

    But this seemed one step too far in complexity of the underlying OS. I’m speaking from ignorance of the detail, but having to get a whole SQL database manager up and running, just to get access to the filesystem, seemed to be a recipe for unreliability. Not to mention the prospect of extended boot times while this complex software and its data (the file structure) loads into memory.

    I use an application which stores data in some hundreds of files, when frankly, a single database would be much faster and some reports are so slow they are not usable. But it serves a purpose and its disadvantages not crippling – I still use it because it’s one of the leaders in its field.

    In conclusion, applications that need fast access to large quantities of data can use a database. But I think that it should be the developer’s resonsibility to provide one. For simple access to disk files, NTFS will do me fine.

  65. Brian says:

    For more drama surrounding the seemingly misguided move to kill WinFS, take a look at this:


  66. 想知道关于WinFS开发的一些内幕信息么?想了解WinFS开发的最新情况么?WinFS团队的BLOG是寻找这些问题答案的不二选择。


    Monday, June 26, 2006…

  67. laughing John says:

    I just wanted to say well done to the team for (nearly) delivering probably the most exciting feature for windows in a long time.

    I’m really sad it’s not going to happen. As a developer who works a lot with Outlook and Exchange based data I have seen the potential and have struggled with the many different stores we have to deal with today.

    The problem is that WinFS was not something that the average windows user was going to see much of. Until of course the developers got their hands on it. Believe me, we may not have said much, but we were eagerly anticipating it.

    It would have made my life so much easier, and it is hard to even imagine all of the cool applications this could have spawned.

    I really think MS have missed a trick to lead rather than follow for change.

    Good luck with future projects, I really hope WinFS comes back in the future, and in the meantime please can you publish the PST format for us ….

  68. Weatherman says:

    Okay, Microsft is dead. Now who do we turn to as our data-clutter savior now?

  69. noitisnt says:

    "What’s the upside to developers?"

    How about "What’s the upside to comsumers?"


  70. Seadams says:

    Hey there,

    I remember sitting in university learning about NTFS (which was cutting edge at the time) in our operating Systems course, and being incredibly jealous of the team who were able to be pushing the envelope on the sphere of what was possible at the time.  NTFS was a bold step because it has to be so failure resistant (since it is a file-system), but Microsoft took this risk on and delivered.  

    How sad is it that this is not the case now – NTFS is probably well into its teen years, and it’s age is showing.  Stores such as PST files are incredibly dated (for example – it’s impossible from a file-system level to incrementally back up last week’s mail – you have to backup the entire PST file – plus if the PST file corrupts, you’re in a world of pain), and NTFS is just not able to handle the complexity of data relationships that we need to have in the OS.  

    Things like having calendar appointments, contacts, e-mails as native file-system objects with rich attributes which can be searched across applications is just so immensely important to the applications that we now need to build, that we cannot back away from taking this step.   How long will we live with the stupidity of having multiple different ideas of a contact in every different windows system (e.g. outlook contacts, outlook express contacts, Messenger contacts, every document author, resources on my project schedules, etc) – we end up spending large parts of our time just moving the same data from one store to another, completely non-value adding activity but required because of the inherent weaknesses of the system.

    Now:  you’ve seen the overwhelming response to this message – winfs really is badly needed, and highly desired by the community.  Why not follow the route of successful software projects, and release & iterate.   You don’t have to get it completely right the first time, but you do have to be progressing.  So, get something out there, and make sure that it’s plastered "BETA" all over it, and we’ll help you by testing it, playing with it, stretching it into areas that you perhaps hadn’t thought of before.   Yes, it’s not ready yet for industrial strength applications, but that’s OK (neither were many of the top applications when they were first launched, including Windows 95, 98, Google, etc)

    Don’t stop this – rather embrace the community and really pump up the speed on this.   WinFS is the biggest thing that Windows has seen in years, so why not build some robust channels for feedback, and start iterating rapidly.  Aim to push out quarterly builds of the kit, and actively seek feedback and community involvement.

    I urge you, and plead with you, please don’t take this step of terminating WinFS as a build.  Even if the team could just focus on Win XP (to avoid distracting the Vista team), it would still be a great product, and would find a home with hundreds of thousands of developers world-wide who have been waiting for this with baited breath.

    Hoping you’ll make the decision to continue WinFS



  71. Ihar "Philips" Filipau says:

    You, WinFS people has to get real life.

    Port WinFS (in addition to ADO/SQL Server) over to MySQL and/or PosgreSQL. You can prepackage and preinstall both of them on M$Windows. And sell it as shareware for $19.95 with one free trial week. That would be the starting block. Get real. "Not Invented Here" is so [censored] uncool.

  72. Bob says:

    I guess I’m glad I didn’t waste any of my time on WinFS since all the interfaces and APIs will be different when pieces surface in SQL Server and other products.

  73. Danny says:

    "What is a ship vehicle?"

    ship: a vessel that carries passengers or freight

    vehicle: a conveyance that transports people or objects

  74. igloo says:

    Have you figured out why Bill Gates keeps on saying "we’re only at the beginning of computing" for over a decade? It’s because of Cairo and WinFS!

    Tell me Bill… when do we ever get to the "middle of computing"? 10 years? 20 years? 50 years? Oh, I guess he’ll say at PDC 2050 "we’re only starting to scratch the surface of the power of the PC, because WinFS is still a Holy Grail for me… ughh… for quite some time… and here it is…" (MS then releases WinFS Beta 2 and then repeats the events of 2003-2006)

    by the way… bill gates also said way back a few years ago, that by 2 or 3 years, most people would want an buy a tablet pc…

  75. again says:

    Steve Ballmer at…


    "We have made some big bets. If you go back four or five years ago, why Vista and "Longhorn" took so long, it’s because we decided to make bigger, longer-term bets, instead of having innovation cycle on these three time frames. So it was a conscious decision. We had a different conscious decision, and we’ll move forward with agility"

    MS has seriously screwed up with Vista. MS asked customers to patiently wait for more than 5 years for "bigger, longer-term bets" now that the biggest bet – WinFS is dead, MS did customers and themselves a disservice, cuz vista really has no big bets left.

    5 years should’ve been enough for a revolutionzary OS from the size of MS, but now after 5 years, we only get XP 1.5 in a fancy suit…

    Actually… calling Vista an XP 1.5 is an OVERSTATEMENT… WinFX is now available for XP… any app that is built on WinFX can run on XP with no tangible difference. Vista has NO VALUE to business and customers…

    "Ballmer: And there will be some things that we’re talking about and working on that may take us even more than a two-year type cycle. But, we’re going to want to give customers visibility to them. "WinFS" is in this category today."

    "MODERATOR: How many years is that? Never mind."

  76. milo says:

    lol! tell me how MS plans to "recreate the excitement of Windows 95" for Vista when WinFS is dead…

    the problem with vista is that too many features are stripped out and delayed for half a decade… we’re talking about half a decade MS… now vista has so little features left, but IT TOOK 5 years for SOOO LITTLE!!

    the world has changed over that time, wake up to it!

    in all honesty, Aero has lost much of its WOW! factor over the past three years… Everyone has seen much of the same effects on OS X. knifing WinFS has upset too many customers, because MS you have given too many empty promises, Indigo (WCF) is so invisible to the end-user that customers simply don’t know… let alone care…

    reality: Vista will never beat 95

    Now for the rest of us: let’s wait for another ten years for MS to cook up a decent and earth-shattering OS Windows 8.0… now with WinFS!

    …or try some more tried-and-true Linux/OS X

  77. Editorial note: there will be a certain type of Drunkard’s Walk feel to this post, but that is because…

  78. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn&#39;t do than by the

  79. Years ago, I toured Europe and talked to about 10.000 people about the wonders of WINFS that was going

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