MICROSOFT'S decision to can its next generation WinFS file system has been described by Bill Gates as one of his biggest regrets.
Microsoft's WinFS was set to be one of the key technologies in Windows Vista but the next generation file system never saw the light of day, with Windows Vista sticking to NTFS. Gates, who was still very much involved with the firm at that time, cited WinFS as the one product that he wished Microsoft had shipped.
Gates made the comment during a Reddit question and answer session in which he described WinFS as, "a rich database as the client/cloud store that was part of a Windows release that was before its time. This is an idea that will re-emerge since your cloud store will be rich with schema rather than just a bunch of files and the client will be a partial replica of it with rich schema understanding."
Separately, Microsoft's Brian Welcker who worked on Microsoft's SQL Server team during WinFS' development also lamented that the file system wasn't shipped. In a surprisingly candid MSDN blog post, Welcker said, "Early in my career at Microsoft, I was part of one of the biggest development disasters at Microsoft (no, not Windows Vista), called WinFS."
Welcker cited a lack of clear understanding of what WinFS was trying to achieve. He said, "It's not that these weren't useful technologies (many of them shipped outside the WinFS project), it's that there wasn't a singular vision driving the project to completion. Because no one could identify the essence of the project, it made it really hard to make any decisions about what should or shouldn't be included."
At the time Microsoft dumped WinFS in a bid to get Windows Vista out the door, however given that file systems with rich schemas seems like an obvious development now, it is surprising that Microsoft didn't continue development after Windows Vista came out. µ
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