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. 
- Quentin

Author: Quentin Clark