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
It's been nearly a year since I wrote my entry about WinFS Beta1, but rest assured, we have been working furiously since then. Today I have an update about how we are delivering some of the WinFS technologies. It represents a change to our original delivery strategy, but it's a change that we think that you'll like based on the feedback that we've received.
As most people who read this blog know, WinFS has always been about many things – a new model to enrich how users manage information, rich storage technology, and sometimes also a packaging of technology. The real change I am addressing today is in the packaging strategy.
There are many great technical innovations the WinFS project has created – innovations that go beyond just the WinFS vision but are part of a broader Data Platform Vision the company is pursuing. The most visible example of this today is the work we are now doing in the next version of ADO.NET for Orcas. The Entities features we are now building in ADO.NET started as things we were building for the WinFS API. We got far enough along and were pushed on the general applicability of the work that we made the choice to not have it be just about WinFS but make it more general purpose (as an aside – this stuff is really coming together – super cool).
Other technical work in the WinFS project is at a similar point – specifically the integration of unstructured data into the relational database, and automation innovations that make the database "just work" with no DBAs – "richer store" work. It's these storage innovations that have matured to the point where we are ready to start working on including them in our broader database product. We are choosing now to take the unstructured data support and auto-admin work and deliver it in the next release of MS SQL Server, codenamed Katmai. This really is a big deal – productizing these innovations into the mainline data products makes a big contribution toward the Data Platform Vision we have been talking about. Doing this also gives us the right data platform for further innovations.
These changes do mean that we are not pursuing a separate delivery of WinFS, including the previously planned Beta 2 release. With most of our effort now working towards productizing mature aspects of the WinFS project into SQL and ADO.NET, we do not need to deliver a separate WinFS offering.
Be encouraged that we are able to get the underlying feature work into Orcas and Katmai. It's great technology and we are super-excited to be productizing this way. And most importantly, it's what people have been asking for – as we work with customers, we're constantly hearing that they want many of the technologies to be more broadly available in the data platform products. That feedback was taken seriously.
Of course, there are other aspects of the WinFS vision that we are continuing to incubate – areas not quite as mature as the work we are now targeting for Katmai and ADO.NET. Since WinFS is no longer being delivered as a standalone software component, people will wonder what that means with respect to the Windows platform. Just as Vista pushed forward on many aspects of the search and organize themes of the Longhorn WinFS effort, Windows will continue to adopt work as it's ready. We will continue working the innovations, and as things mature they will find their way into the right product experiences – Windows and otherwise. Having so much ready for SQL Server and ADO.NET is a big impact on the platform, and more will come.
That's all for now. I know people won't be shy with questions and comments.
Author: Quentin Clark