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