Bring Me The Head Of WinFS

by Robin Harris on Monday, 26 June, 2006

With all the exciting news in file systems cum storage managers, one might wonder what the world’s largest and most profitable software company is doing.

They See The Coming Trainwreck
They are aware of the data/storage trends. As Microsoft SVP of Server Apps Paul Flessner recently noted

As we move from managing transactional data to pre-transactional, as with RFID and other sensors, we will face a 10-100 factor increase in data volume. As an industry we are facing an unprecedented explosion of data that we will need to manage, with the ability to organize, summarize, and prioritize all of this information becoming a key priority for IT.

Cool! A File System Built On A Relational Database!
Msoft’s answer was WinFS, which the busy gnomes of Redmond had been working on for years. Great ideas including

  • Taking all the data in individual silos and moving it into one place where all applications can access them
  • Rich data and new organizational constructs powered by an enterprise scale relational engine
  • Integration of unstructured data into the database, and automation innovations that make the database “just work” with no DBAs
  • Services like synchronization, notifications, rules, and backup/restore

Sounds like some of the thinking behind Openomy except that WinFS is proprietary and PC-centric instead of open and web-based. And you can use Openomy today.

Oops! Just Kidding
Too good to be true? Yup. In a post Friday the Program Manager used a lot of words to say that WinFS won’t be part of Vista. Pieces will be used in the server edition. Presumably Vista will use the increasingly lame NTFS.

Can Apple Trump Vista With ZFS?
Apple now has a clear path to trump Vista’s aging data management with a port of ZFS. While not offering a relational database and the promise of a single cross-application data store, ZFS is a modern file/storage management system whose end-to-end data integrity and protection makes it a strong foundation for future innovation. NTFS and Apple’s HFS+ are no match for it. Let’s hope Apple says more at their World Wide Developer Conference in August.

Microsoft Doesn’t Care. They Don’t Have To
As befits a monopoly (as defined by US courts) Microsoft doesn’t have to be a technology leader. It is easier and safer to let others figure out what works. I don’t criticize Microsoft for this: they simply have too many users to jerk them around with the latest tech fads, and too little incentive to do it. I suspect that WinFS threatened to be a security horror show as well as gutting the SQL Server business. Or maybe the schedule risk was too great.

Or add your comment on why and what below.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kebabbert November 1, 2008 at 5:52 pm

What do you mean with “As befits a monopoly (as defined by US courts) Microsoft”? Has Microsoft monopoly according to US courts? How can you say that?

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: