December 10, 2004 12:34 PM PST

New file system has long road to Windows

Microsoft's long-awaited new Windows file system is still a work in progress.

Although Microsoft hopes to ship a test version of WinFS in late 2006, it could be several more years before the revamped storage mechanism finds its way into Windows Server.

The software maker has already decided that WinFS will ship separately from Longhorn, the new desktop version of Windows that is due in 2006. On Friday, Windows Server Chief Bob Muglia said that WinFS will also not be a part of the server version of Longhorn that ships in 2007.

"WinFS in not in the Longhorn client," he said in an interview. "It is also not in Longhorn Server."

It is not even clear if Microsoft will include it with the Longhorn update that is scheduled to follow a couple of years later.

News.context

What's new:
Microsoft's long-held dream of a new file system continues to be a years-off proposition. WinFS is not part of Longhorn and may not be possible even in the next update after that.

Bottom line:
Though its file system hopes remain a long-term goal, the software giant has plenty of other server work to keep itself busy, with Longhorn Server and two updates to the current OS on tap.

More stories on WinFS

"That would be the earliest," Muglia said. "We have to look and see if that is possible still, because it is a major new file system."

Instead, WinFS may not debut in the operating system until the next decade, when the version of Windows beyond Longhorn, code-named Blackcomb, is slated to ship.

"In terms of something major like WinFS, we still need to figure it out," Muglia said.

When it removed WinFS from Longhorn earlier this year, Microsoft said it would offer developers a beta version of the file system at the same time as Longhorn, but separate from the new OS.

Muglia said he is confident that Microsoft's advanced file system, a decade-old dream, will eventually make it into the operating system. However, he said the company did err by talking about plans before it knew it could deliver.

"We've been working on this for a long time, and this team is going to deliver," he said. "Our mistake, frankly--and it was a mistake--was to go out and talk about it before we really had clarity as to how we would be able to deliver it and all the complexities there."

He stressed that Microsoft is trying to do things with WinFS that no one has ever done before.

"This isn't a relational database," he said. "This is a brand-new data model, and it satisfies a whole class of applications that frankly have been unsatisfied from a data model perspective since the beginning of history. We've been working on things like this for a long time."

Meanwhile, Microsoft's server unit has plenty of things to work on in the nearer term. First up are two updates to Windows Server 2003, which are in various stages of testing. Service Pack 1 of the OS, which reached the "release candidate" stage earlier this week, should ship by March, Muglia said.

A set of additional features for the OS, known as Windows Server 2003 "R2," entered a private beta this week and is slated to ship in the second half of next year. Microsoft was more specific about its release in a note to testers, promising an October ship date.

"I just heard that we said that, and I was annoyed that we actually sent that out," Muglia said. "I feel good about the second half. We'll find out about October as we get closer."

The R2 release includes several already available features, such as Windows SharePoint Services and Active Directory Application Mode, or ADAM. It also has new features such as Active Directory federation services and a basic storage area network (SAN) management feature. With R2, Microsoft is adding features designed to make it easier for companies to manage branch servers with centralized file and print services as well as remote hardware management.

Leading up to Longhorn Server
At the same time, Microsoft is working to get the server version of Longhorn to the beta stage. The company plans to have a test version of Longhorn Server ready in the second half of 2005. Earlier this year, Microsoft expressed hope that a beta might ship in the first half.

With Longhorn Server, the company has several priorities, one of which is to make the operating system more easily tailored to specific roles. Large businesses will be able to customize their installation of the OS to tailor a server to a particular task, such as an application server or media server.

Windows Server 2003 has limited ability to dedicate a server to the role it is performing. Longhorn Server will enable much finer-tuning of setups. "In Longhorn, it is possible to create images that can then be deployed to a given server with just the roles configured in it and just the software that's needed to run that role," Muglia said.

The goal, Muglia said, is to make the operating systems more secure, by exposing only the code needed for the tasks being performed. Such servers should also be easier to manage, because Microsoft should be able to make it simpler to automate tasks unique to each type of server.

However, Muglia said that the goal is not to create a host of different packages scaled to different tasks and sold at a lower price.

"It's not the cost side," Muglia said. "Most of our customers, frankly, are asking for more flexibility in terms of what they deploy on servers, not focusing on cost-reduction through specific editions."

Although the company has separate Web server and storage versions of its OS, Muglia said he doesn't see each of these roles becoming a separate product, although he stressed that packaging decisions for Longhorn Server have not yet been made.

In addition, Muglia said there will be some new management features and changes that will reduce the need for system reboots. Improvements in terminal services and rights management are also planned.

He said Microsoft is still on track for its 2007 launch but noted that the company is "still in the earlier stages on Longhorn."

"We're working in lockstep with our client brethren," he said, noting that the release date for Longhorn Server is later primarily because more testing time is needed for a server release. "It's still a little early to know exactly what will be in the release."

Microsoft still has work cut out for it moving its customers from Windows NT 4 to current versions of Windows Server. Although Muglia said he is pleased with efforts so far, 20 percent of that customer base still has not switched, he said.

The operating system will reach the end of formal support at year's end, though Microsoft is offering paid custom support to customers that are still developing their transition plans.

CNET News.com's Mike Ricciuti and Martin LaMonica contributed to this report.

31 comments

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Ooh, did they invent a new particle, too?
A data structure that hasn't existed before?

This is just the next layer of FUD. meta-FUD, if you will, which
is ironic.

Such crap.
Posted by godofbiscuits--2008 (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
well...
MS doesn't seem to know much about data strucures anyway, so it isn't surprising they would claim they are inventing a new one.

For proof, look no further then their attempt to patent FAT. Apparently they think they invented the array of pointers idea.
Posted by (242 comments )
Link Flag
I've seen it... have you?
I've seen WinFS. Have you? If you haven't, then I don't think you're really qualified to comment on what it may or may not do.
Posted by Jeff Putz (302 comments )
Link Flag
If there ever was a window of opportunity for Apple, it's now
With WinFS being the single most important advancement to the
Windows operating system, and it not making it into the OS (if
even by the end of the decade), Apple really has an opportunity
gain some serious marketshare with OS X and OS X Server.
Posted by olePigeon (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Of course...
Yeah, because users everywhere are standing up and saying, "Oh wow, I'd love a new file system."

You don't need to work a help desk to know people don't care.
Posted by Jeff Putz (302 comments )
Link Flag
Get Real.
HA! God I love these gleam of hope comments. Do you realize how many computers Apple sells vs. the industry? A pathetic amount. I want Apple to do well but lets be realistic here. The way Apple sells their wares and does their business in general is geared towards a niche market solution. You can quote me on this in the future. Apple will NEVER again have double digit market share numbers. Hell they will be lucky to get even 5% of the market. And dont give me this crap about market share numbers not mattering (A common theme now a days for Mac users who are defending Apple.) Market share numbers do indeed matter. For the developer it matters because of which platform stands a better chance of distrusting their wares better. For the enterprise/business sector it matters for long term stability to KNOW that your platform will be there in 10 years. Apple MIGHT do well in a small business environment but even then 1.5-2% market share should make anyone look VERY long and VERY hard at their decision.
Look I want Apple to do well but the fact of the matter is they dont have a distribution channel setup to handle mass sales. My biggest wet dream is for Apple to team up with Dell and have Dell make a low end, bottom of the barrel, computers that replaces the out of date and dilapidated eMac. Dell has the distribution methods to kick ***. Apple would continue to sell mid and high end devices like the PowerMac and the (crappy performance wise) PowerBooks.
If Apple could open themselves up they could potentially get to a 10% market share again. But lets be frank here. There is no way in hell they are going to do that. Apple is chicken **** when it comes to new corp approaches to business. I think it was an act of god that Apple even released iTunes for Windows. Handing part of their desktop line to someone else. Jobs would cut off his hands first. Consequently when Longhorn does ship and its found to be a robust, stable, environment. Apple is screwed. Longhorn has been a massive cluster **** from MS. Yes. Over promises and whatnot. The thing is this time MS listened to their developers. They dropped the crap that simply could not be added to Longhorn. They ARE focusing on security this time. If MS actually does this right (I give a 50/50 chance.) Apple could see market share fall further. The big reason Apple is nabbing sales right now is patches, viruses, worms, etc. Some of the feature Ive seen in longhorn go a LONG way to rectifying this situation. Will it be an end all be all cure? Not a chance in heck. But if it plugs the majority of sec issues it may make people reconsider which is BAD for Apple. Like it or not Apple has until Fall of 06 Spring of 07 to capture market share. After that all bets are off.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Link Flag
You have to love it...
Microsoft made all of these promises for all of these new wonderful features in Longhorn and now not only are the delaying Longhorn herself they are constantly chipping away at the new features until there is nothing left. And, then Microsoft higher ups sit around after launch and wonder why people aren't upgrading.

Give me a break. The releases between major OS updates to long and really lack much incentive to update. If you count service packs as major updates they even fail there too. SP2 did little more than cause problems for people. It still has security holes. So what the hell was the point.

As for Apple, different company same monopolistic attitude. Until they allow Apple clones so that prices can be lowever they are just as bad as Microsoft. They get away with because they simply don't have the marketshare. There aren't enough people using it for them to create a ralling cry. They are almost as pathetic.

Robert
Posted by (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple Clones?
The old saying "you get what you pay for" is especially true with computers. You can have the "c heap" computers, I will stay with my Apple and OSX. I bet in the long run you will end up spending more than me.
Posted by (17 comments )
Link Flag
More...
I agree with you on the win stuff.

Apple cannot clone their technology becasue that would dilute their ability to target their already small customer base and eliminate the advantage they have with their proprietary technologies.

They tried cloning in the early nineties and it took the company to the brink of extinction.
Posted by (5 comments )
Link Flag
Gotta Love It!
I love it when they post articles about Microsoft, it makes my morning to read these comments! Finally the Mac people can put down that $5 cup of coffee and post a comment about MS and the LINUX technogeeks can come out of their mothers basement and post a friendly comment on the destruction of MS.
There isnt going to be any revolution, no jump from MS to LINUX or MAC, not in 2 years or a 100 years. I am not pro Microsoft, MAC, or LINUX and actually who really cares? But I sure do enjoy reading the feud, very entertaining fellas!
Posted by megalene (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Lars
Wait and see, is a passiv "state" so look and wait, or look and act, or act do not wait, forget, forgive, wakeup, scratch your head, use it.
Well, my advice is "use your brains".
Posted by lgmbackman (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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