WinFS is no more

Post ImageWell this news sucks. The WinFS team at Microsoft has posted a new blog entry that sounds so positive, but really can’t hide the fact that WinFS is basically dead. Too bad they felt the need to spin this. For those of you that don’t know, WinFS was technology meant to bring the advantages of a database to your desktop.

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.

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.

As one commenter noted:

It sounds so positive. But it’s like giving a speech in front of the coffin. You just keep remembering the guy inside, and the more you do, the more you remember he’s dead.

What does this mean? Well, SQL Server will get some cool new technology built into it. Which is fine, except that the original promise of WinFS was to bring a database layer between your file system and you (basically a relational file system), meaning you could do cool things when looking for pictures or contacts or any file for that matter. It looks as though that kind of functionality will now remain a dream.

So WinFS is dead – for now. Similar technology was originally planned for the version of Windows code-named “Cairo”, which eventually became Windows NT 4.0. That operating system was released about ten years ago. It was in 2003 that plans for WinFS really started to heat up. Maybe they’ll try again in another seven years?

I am also wondering how much Windows Live factored into this decision. If Microsoft has decided that people are going to use services on the web to organize and store their data instead of their desktops, then it would make sense to focus on SQL Server and not bringing a database to Windows. I find it hard to believe that Microsoft would so completely abandon the idea of the computer being the central hub for you data, however. I guess time will tell.

Read: WinFS Team Blog