Hopefully by now, you’ve gotten a chance to take a look at our PDC video and see how applications can use WinFS to do really cool things. I thought I would write a little bit about each of our value propositions, so we can dig in and see what’s really happening.

Today, let’s discuss “Unify” and how WinFS will take all the data in individual silos and move them into one place where all applications can access them. Personally, I like to think about this in terms of contacts. Right now, my contacts (friends, family, colleagues, etc.) are spread over a bunch of places. I have contact info in my cell phone, my home computer, my main box at work, my Outlook, my Hotmail account, my AOL IM account, my GMail account, on random post-it notes on my desk at work and home, and those business cards that come out of the dryer as crumpled balls of paper. Heck, I even have a number of printouts (written in Word) with all the guest info for my upcoming wedding.

In my mind, I roughly know where to go to get information: my cell phone has the most accurate phone numbers, my Hotmail account has all my college friends’ info, and so on.

So how does WinFS help fix this? With WinFS, I can move all my contact information into one central store. My applications can interact with this information and I can synchronize it wherever I want to. The obvious benefit is that I can go to one place reliably for the most up to date information. Now, I could easily add whoever I wanted to an Evite for a Halloween party. No more need for typing in email addresses or importing all my contacts (into yet another silo). When I order flowers for mom on her birthday, it’s just one click for me to fill out the information for the recipient. 

In addition to being a central data store, WinFS can be your synchronization hub. I can sync between WinFS Stores and I can sync changes back and forth with legacy stores (like Outlook, PDAs, and cell phones). Now, I can have my latest contact info on my phone, make changes on the road, and sync that information back to WinFS. This, of course, enables some great offline experiences. When I’m doing work on vacation, I don’t need to worry about manually synchronizing my data with my desktop machine once I’m home. Now all my applications will behave like Outlook 11’s awesome offline mode.

Of course, this applies to all data; not just contacts. Now, all my calendar apps will show my Evite invites. My photos are now associated with contacts and events, so I can easily say, “Mail these photos to everyone that was at the event”. When you start adding email, RSS feeds, documents, music and everything else to this, it can get pretty exciting. 

Next post, we’ll tackle “Organize”. Stay tuned…

Author: Vijay Bangaru