Microsoft Stays Mum on Plans for Windows, WinFS

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-06-26 Print this article Print

Microsoft has said it is not pursuing the separate delivery of WinFS as a stand-alone offering, but it refuses to say if, or when, WinFS will become an integrated part of some future version of Windows.

Now that Microsoft has announced it is not pursuing the separate delivery of WinFS as a stand-alone offering, the Redmond-based software maker is also making clear that it has no intention of discussing its post-Vista plans for Windows and WinFS anytime soon.

"A lot of people are asking about the roadmap [for WinFS and Windows] going forward, but we are just not discussing that at this point in time," said Corey Thomas, the group product manager for SQL Server, in an interview with eWEEK on June 26.

Microsoft first announced that it was no longer pursuing the separate delivery of WinFS, or the previously planned second beta release of the product—which it had long been promising—in a June 23 blog posting by Quentin Clark, the product unit manager for Microsoft's SQL/WinFS unit.

"With most of our effort now working toward productizing mature aspects of the WinFS project into SQL and ADO.NET, we do not need to deliver a separate WinFS offering," Clark said in that post.

Some, like Burton group analyst Peter O'Kelly, say they believe this was a necessary and pragmatic decision.

"Microsoft was more than a little bit on the woefully optimistic side when it introduced WinFS in 2003 and … the revised approach, reflecting significant developer input over the last three years, is much more pragmatic. The WinFS vision has always been laudable; the company was simply too ambitious in trying to bring it to fruition with a single .Net Framework extension," he said.

But others, including some attendees of Microsoft's annual TechEd show held in Boston earlier in June, were taken by surprise, especially since Clark told them at the show that a second, publicly available beta of WinFS would be available some time later in 2006.

Click here to read more on what Microsoft had to say about the future of WinFS at TechEd 2006.

Clark also delved into Microsoft's evolving vision for WinFS—a technology that was expected to be the killer feature for Vista and Longhorn Server.

But, in August 2004, Microsoft cut WinFS out of both operating-system releases in order to be able to ship them in more of a timely fashion.

But it said that WinFS would be made available as a stand-alone technology after Vista and Longhorn Server shipped.

In line with this approach, Microsoft released the first beta of WinFS in September 2005 and refreshed that beta in December 2005.

Thomas said the discrepancy between the information about WinFS shared at TechEd and this latest announcement, by saying the WinFS decision was only made late last week.

"Even though we had major discussions at TechEd, we wanted to get this latest information out to our customers and partners as soon as possible, even though we knew we would take a bit of a knock for having one conversation at TechEd and then announcing the changes in the ship vehicle a couple of weeks later," he said.

The Burton group's O'Kelly believes that WinFS as it was known will die a rather lonely death.

"I'm sure some Microsoft customers and partners are annoyed about the change in plans, but I'd be willing to bet the change in plans is the direct result of clear feedback from a relatively larger group of otherwise annoyed Microsoft customers and partners who told Microsoft, probably at TechEd, that the WinFS plan of record wasn't realistic," he said.

That view is borne out by Microsoft's Thomas, who detailed the rationale behind the decision.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Microsoft Stays Mum on Plans for Windows, WinFS

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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