Microsoft betas Vista-bound WinFS file system

Microsoft has unleashed a beta version of its Vista-bound WinFS file system for Windows XP.

Originally highlighted as a key part of Vista, WinFS was dropped from the launch version of Vista a year ago, but has now reappeared ahead of expectations, albeit in beta, on Microsoft’s MSDN developer network. It’s still not due as an official part of Vista until next year, however.

But a Microsoft executive told ZDNet that the announcement ahead of expectations in no way indicated that the product is ahead of schedule: WinFS is still predicted to remain in beta at the time of Vista’s launch.

Microsoft has said that the final version of WinFS might be available for other versions of Windows depending on the feedback it receives during the beta phase.

The beta version contains everything a developer needs to evaluate and start writing to the new system including APIs.

WinFS is described as a ‘critical’ piece of Microsoft’s data strategy. The relational file system allows data held within individual applications to be accessed by the entire system. This ‘Item Data Model’ means complex queries such as ‘show me all mail from people I am meeting with this week’ can be formulated. Developers will also be able to build applications directly on Windows data structures, rather than having to create proprietary stores.

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