Microsoft Uncertain About WinFS for XP

Microsoft stopped short of confirming reports that it plans to back-port its next-generation WinFS file system architecture to Windows XP, telling BetaNews it is only evaluating the move while also acknowledging WinFS is still years off.

"We are currently evaluating making the WinFS storage subsystem available on this platform and will make the decision based on what is best for customers," a Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews.

WinFS was originally slated to sit atop NTFS and track metadata for all files on a system to improve organizing, searching and sharing of information. Longhorn applications could also store data directly in WinFS, which is based on Microsoft's SQL Server technology.

The future of WinFS has been the subject of much confusion after Microsoft announced last August that the technology would not be ready for the next Windows release, known as Longhorn. Redmond instead opted to focus on Longhorn's other fundamentals: the Avalon user interface and Indigo communication subsystems.

In order to give developers the opportunity to become familiar with the technologies prior to Longhorn's arrival, Microsoft announced last year it would make Avalon and Indigo available for Windows XP. The move was also intended to ensure backward compatibility for Longhorn-designed applications.

Furthering the uncertainty surrounding WinFS, Microsoft's director of product management for SQL Server, Tom Rizzo, recently told Microsoft Watch that WinFS would also be back-ported to Windows XP. The news quickly spread and confounded many analysts and developers.

"I can think of no really good reason to port WinFS to Windows XP unless it ships right away, so to bridge to Longhorn," said Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox.

But Microsoft confirmed to BetaNews that WinFS is still on the drawing board. "The full version of WinFS will be delivered subsequent to Longhorn and also will ship as a part of Windows in future releases of the operating system," a company spokesperson said.

Whenever it's released, Microsoft officials say the company remains committed to delivering the next-generation file system. "As a revolutionary technology, we want to ensure that we get it right. Feedback from ISVs is helping us to refine WinFS and have validated that we are on track to deliver a rich, comprehensive solution for programming and storage."

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