Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What is WinFS?

WinFS is a short name for Windows Future Storage. This is the code name for a Microsoft technology to be used for data storage in the upcoming products. WinFS will work on top of NTFS and will create relationships between the files stored normally on the disk. This will facilitate better presentation and analysis of the data which was otherwise unarranged and unusable in its raw form.

WinFS will be using a relational database of SQL 2005 in order to achieve this.

File Systems like NTFS stores data in the form of bytes. The only information that the file system has about the data stored in the File Name. Hence, assume a new file by the name Tester.doc is stored in a drive. The file system can be searched for only the filename, that is, Tester.doc and it will provide the result in the result box. However, if this file had a status report for a particular activity, and the file system is searched for, “Show all files which have the words ‘Status Report’ in them”. The file system in helpless for such searches because it only understands the file names.

In the above example, a desktop search application can facilitate the search above since it indexes the contents of the file system and can search based on the contents of the files in the file system. However, a search like, “Show all files having the status report from Jan 2006 to Mar 2006 and which has been sent to Bob in the last week” cannot be processed by the desktop search application since, it not only looks into the contents of three different applications, like Word Processor, Database and Email system, but also needs to have built-in intelligence to create a relationship between the data.

This is where WinFS comes into the picture.

WinFS achieves the above but categorizing the data files. For example, it understands that a .jpeg file as a picture file and a .pst file as an Email file. It also has the built-in intelligence to determine the relationship between the above applications or more applications as installed on the computer.

WinFS will not be bundled into Windows Vista or Longhorn, but will be available as a downloadable add-on. WinFS is currently on Beta 1, but Beta 2 is expected to be announced the upcoming Tech Ed sessions.

WinFS will be storing data in the form of stores. Whenever a file is copied in the file system, the application will provide the information about the attributes constituting the metadata and the relationship of the data with other applications in the store.

For detailed information, visit here.

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