Microsoft Offers Developers a Beta Surprise

Microsoft recently surprised its developers’ network by releasing a beta version of its Windows file system earlier than expected.

WinFS is a relational file system that stores documents, e-mails, photos and other multimedia files, as well as structured data from applications, in a common manner. It was initially expected to support Vista, Microsoft’s anticipated new operating system formerly code-named Longhorn, but the company will now decide which operating system WinFS will support.

WinFS originally was scheduled to be part of Windows Vista, but Microsoft canceled that plan in August 2004 when it realized the file system would take longer to build.

The file system runs on top of Windows NT File System, allowing developers to access data locked up in desktop applications such as contacts, calendar events and RSS feeds, to be organized, managed, shared and synchronized with files via XML interfaces. WinFS also helps users organize their data and allow apps to automatically organize their data. For example, a user builds queries displaying all the mail from people the user is meeting that week. It also provides a new data platform in Windows to allow developers to create apps directly onto the Windows platform, rather than requiring programmers to write their own proprietary data stores.

The beta is available through Microsoft Developer Network, and more developers are expected to take a look at WinFS at the company’s Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles next week.

About the Author

Kathleen Ohlson is senior editor at Application Development Trends magazine.