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MS re-spins WinFS

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The man who blogged that Microsoft is killing WinFS is back, applying some corrective spin to reassure developers that Microsoft has not lost its direction.

Quentin Clark, Microsoft product unit manager, has insisted the company's vision for richer storage in Windows "is very much alive" with the much-hyped tools for desktop search "a good step towards that vision". These search tools have been introduced in a late, scrambled response to Google search and were not mentioned when WinFS was unveiled.

WinFS was announced by chief software architect Bill Gates in 2003 as the "Holy Grail" of Windows Vista, itself billed - by Gates - as Microsoft's biggest release of the decade. Gates and Microsoft promised WinFS would provide logical, programmatic relationships, and synchronisation between different types of data - like text and multimedia - and finally break down silos of information.

The architecture was conceived as uniting desktop and server storage and seen as a way for Microsoft to literally add database functionality to Windows.

According to Clark's earlier blog on Friday, that vision has been - as with so much else pertaining to Windows Vista - scaled back. WinFS will now go the way of all good storage technologies by finding its way into the database - in this case the next version of Microsoft's popular SQL Server, codenamed Katmai.

"More mature" elements of WinFS, according to Clark, are destined to appear in ADO.NET and Orcas, the next - at least it was the last time we checked - planned release of Microsoft's Visual Studio development environment, rumored to be Visual Studio 2007, which is integrated with SQL Server.

Fielding flack for using his blog to announce the change rather than the recent TechEd, where Microsoft talked up WinFS, Clark claimed Microsoft had "not made the call" on the change in time for TechEd. "We did share the news as soon as we had the final word," he said.

Sticking to the argument that the change is not an embarrassing set back in the developer world, Clark continued in PR style: "We believe that including some of the WinFS work in SQL will broaden which developers benefit from that database, and further we believe the ADO.NET for Orcas innovations will make using a database a lot easier for and more productive for developers." ®

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