CyberTech Rambler

June 26, 2006

Sayonara WinFS (for now)

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:30 pm

Since WinFS team more-or-less admit that WinFS is dead with a very (professionally) polished eulogy on their blog, the net has been voicing their opinions on the subjects (see FishBowl and OS Review).

I do not know why WinFS team abandon the project. All I can say is while the goal of WinFS, richer user experience, looks promising and well thought of, it perhaps underestimate the extra amount of work expected from users. I believe any thing that requires users to input additional information, a.k.a. metadata, needs to overcome the high barrier of convincing users that it is in their interest. In the OS Review article, it is argued that some softwares, such as iTune, already collect a lot of meta data such as user ratings etc. What I will argue is that these software successfully convince users that providing these meta data enhance their experience in using it. MP3 has a very comprehensive metadata structure capable of storing Title/Artist/Genre and other information. Software like WinAMP has always make it possible to view these data but they just did not catch on until iTune arrive. I know, coz I am one of them who takes the trouble to fill in the information only when iTune arrive. If you still think that as long as there are meta data structure there to collect user data, the user will provide it, just ask yourself when was the last time you fill in the metadata information for your Office Document?

WinFS's proposed function has a large overlap with "SpotLight" search in MacOSX or Google Desktop Search. The difference between WinFS and the other two is the other two do it without user intervention. That accounts for the usefulness of SpotLight for me. It allows me to search my computer without worrying about where the search text are (filename/document text) etc. With Google Desktop, my problem is it slows down my computer significantly when it starts cataloging my computer's content.

Moreover, richer "user experience" is difficult to define. It is also doubtful whether a change in File System is needed to deliver richer "user experience". Development of File System has always been driven by operating systems' need, not "end user experience". For example, IBM's Journalling File System  is created to ensure that power failure etc will not affect copy/move/delete operation by first recording what it is going to do, then check and tick off what is already done to allow system to pick up from where it drops off after a power failure etc. Knoppix's File System store users modification to be written to a separate storage space (coz the original storage space is read only, e.g. CDROM) and recombine them seemlessly when the Operating System ask for it and permits the automatic uncompression of compress file. They are all driven by needs, operating system's need. Their advantages are easily qualified and quantified. 

Finally, we should note that WinFS, like any other projects are not believer of the Christian Faith, or Islam or Jewish or any religions that believe there is only one life. Rather, WinFS is back in the Karma wheel. The WinFS team blog already announce its next reincarnation, where it is split into two separate things.


  1. This is the comment I made over at WinFS Blog but apparently has been censored…

    This whole story of WinFS is so ‘Microsoft’… at the beginning WinFS was heavily hyped, for several years as the future filesystem of every Windows – and then it’s being constantly scaled back, a gradual process which finally ends with this log.
    To be completely honest it wasn’t unexpected, at least not by me after last year’s ‘fast deterioration’… of course, still nobody had the balls to come forward and openly say that the long-awaited, next-generation filesystem of all things Microsoft, KNOWN AS WinFS HAS BEEN KILLED – no, all we got this ridiculous explanation, let alone that laughable notion that they are “super-excited” about the canning of their project…

    Apart from the pathetic nature of this story and this pathetic try to sell it as some kind of ‘good news’, we should also remember that Microsoft DOES NOT HAVE ANY FUTURE PLAN TO REPLACE THE SERIOUSLY OUTDATED NTFS WITH A MODERN FILE SYSTEM.

    Even though MS already lost a lot of upgrade sales when they have announced WinFS won’t be shipping in Vista, I think we can conclude that BY CANNING THEIR NEW FILESYSTEM MICROSOFT JUST KILLED MOST OF THEIR VISTA UPGRADE SALES AS WELL.

    At this point I don’t see any reason why would I upgrade hundreds of our workstations – there’s NOTHING in Vista, nothing but a dumb facelift.

    This story just convinced me that Microsoft is indeed in very-very bad shape – too much Ballmer and alikes and not enough engineers…

    Comment by szlevi — June 26, 2006 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  2. WinFS censored your posting. Erh! That is very bad.

    I cannot see anything wrong with your comment.

    Yes, they can do whatever they want on their blog. But to remove something because they do not like is unethical behaviour.

    Your comment is staying on this blog.

    Comment by ctrambler — June 26, 2006 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  3. Actually it never made it to the web – I’m not sure what happened, it just never appeared over there after I submitted (actually twice)… weird.

    Comment by szlevi — June 26, 2006 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

  4. ic.

    Hopefully it means it is in the mediation queue and will appear later.

    (Forgive the pun) Did you use non-IE browser to submit your comments?

    Comment by ctrambler — June 26, 2006 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

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