Microsoft has released the beta of its WinFS to its developer network. Analysts recommend looking at the technology – which promises better desktop file searching - in test environments.
WinFS – in which FS stands for future storage – is a file storage subsystem rather than a file system. In effect it marries the capabilities of Microsoft’s SQL database with the NTFS file system so users can save and search for files across multiple applications. Microsoft promises that WinFS will allow users to devise queries which exploit relationships currently stifled by information residing in discrete applications.
WinFS will help users organise data and allow applications to auto-organise it for them. The example Microsoft gives is that WinFS users will be able to build queries such as "show me all mail from people I am meeting with this week.”
Teresa Jones, senior research analyst with Butler Group, said “As a developer you need to be keeping up with new technologies. And looking at WinFS it looks like a useful solution for bridging between multiple applications. This potentially makes a whole lot of applications more productive. Many people have to use multiple applications and a way of keeping on top of them and having search and retrieval tools which work between them would be a useful thing. It’s definitely worth looking at its capabilities in a test environment.”
WinFS was originally scheduled to ship with the company’s next version of Windows – Longhorn, now known as Vista. The beta release will work with Microsoft XP.