June 24, 2006
@ 04:57 PM

Quentin Clark has a blog post entitled WinFS Update where he writes

There are many great technical innovations the WinFS project has created – innovations that go beyond just the WinFS vision but are part of a broader Data Platform Vision the company is pursuing.  The most visible example of this today is the work we are now doing in the next version of ADO.NET for Orcas.  The Entities features we are now building in ADO.NET started as things we were building for the WinFS API.  We got far enough along and were pushed on the general applicability of the work that we made the choice to not have it be just about WinFS but make it more general purpose (as an aside – this stuff is really coming together – super cool). 

Other technical work in the WinFS project is at a similar point – specifically the integration of unstructured data into the relational database, and automation innovations that make the database "just work" with no DBAs – "richer store" work.  It's these storage innovations that have matured to the point where we are ready to start working on including them in our broader database product.  We are choosing now to take the unstructured data support and auto-admin work and deliver it in the next release of MS SQL Server, codenamed Katmai.  This really is a big deal – productizing these innovations into the mainline data products makes a big contribution toward the Data Platform Vision we have been talking about.  Doing this also gives us the right data platform for further innovations. 

These changes do mean that we are not pursuing a separate delivery of WinFS, including the previously planned Beta 2 release.  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. 

So that's it, no more WinFS. This is the right decision, albeit two years too late but better late than never. It's sad to think about the projects that got killed or disrupted because of WinFS only for this to happen. In a recent column entitled Taking One for the Team Robert X. Cringley has a quote from Management By Baseball by Jeff Angus which reads "When I worked for a few years at Microsoft Corporation in the early '80s,...no one cared to track and codify past failures as a way to help managers create guidelines of paths to follow and avoid". I hope this doesn't end up happening with the lessons from the WinFS project.


Categories: Technology
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Saturday, June 24, 2006 5:40:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
you don't know anything about it. never stopped you in the past, comment away..
Saturday, June 24, 2006 7:33:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
It's unlikely that any lesson will be learned. The way in which WinFS was pursued mirrors the failed Cairo, Hailstorm, and Netdocs projects. Management needs to stop trying to pursue homeruns and settle for a nice solid progression of base hits. Pre-announcing these megahit products and then failing to deliver has cost the company dearly, both in employee morale and outside perception. Cancellation of WinFS was the right thing to do, but a lot of damage has been done.
Saturday, June 24, 2006 10:23:10 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
All I can say is that I am dissapointed. I am becoming more scared of Microsoft's ability to deliver large cutting edge products. In my opinion if this was going to happen it should have happened before Beta 1...or Beta 1 should not have been called Beta 1. Calling it a Beta is really now false advertising to alot of us who thought that it would actually be something. Although I can say that I did not think that it was of Beta quality.

Sunday, June 25, 2006 2:54:49 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I don't claim to know much about WinFS other than it seems to have roots in the very grandiose or premature vision of the Cairo Filesystem, and has indeed caused a lot of disruption along the way. I do think that some technological lessons are being learned, e.g. Objectspaces lives on as LINQ to SQL (and probably needed a few years to mature anyway), and the more abstract datamodel that evolved in the WinFS group lives on as LINQ to Entities / E-SQL.

There is a meta-technological lesson that is not being learned AFAIK: Gall's Law "A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system." WinFS is not the only project that flagrantly violates Gall's Law yet soaks up mass quantities of resources.
Mike Champion
Sunday, June 25, 2006 6:09:09 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
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Monday, June 26, 2006 5:53:10 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
What I think I would most apreciate right at this moment, is a description and definition of what WinFS was supposed to be. Weeping and wailing and gnashing of theeth is all very well, but what was it supposed to do?

Is there any detailed description, or has that been obscured over the man-centuries of work, until nobody knows just what is hapening?

Any clues?
Mjinga Wawa
Comments are closed.