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A test version of Microsoft’s long awaited & talked about next generation file system, WinFS, was released quitely to MSDN subscribers on Monday, reported ZDNet Australia.

This new file system was earlier slated to be released with the Windows “Longhorn” Vista but Microsoft announced about an year back that it was pulling out WinFS from the next version of Windows so that the much-awaited operating system can make a 2006 release. One of the new features of this new file system will be faster file search, I read somewhere that it’ll be powered by a streamed down version of SQL Server & files could be called up just like an SQL query & can benefit a lot from indexing, whether that’s true or not, is yet to be seen. 😉

Director of Program Management for the new file system, Quentin Clark said:

When it does ship in final form, WinFS will likely be an add-on to Windows, much as Microsoft ships its .NET framework today. Developers can write programs that require .NET, but either individual users have to download the necessary framework code or businesses can install it when they give their machines to workers. It is a possibility that some computer makers might decide to offer WinFS preinstalled on new PCs.

He however also said that though multiple betas are planned but no additional releases are planned for this year. However, when asked whether WindowsXP will be supported, he said

By the time we release WinFS, the market may have sufficiently gone onto Windows Vista that we may not need to support XP.

Yeah well, didn’t they think like that when they released the NTFS and supported WindowsNT and above, & none of the 9x generation of Windows like Windows98 which ironically is running thousands PCs even today, 5 version releases later, and for which Microsoft stopped support only an year or so ago.

So lets see what we can expect from this new filesystem, though it being add-on won’t make a lot of developers happy, as they won’t know the count of users having the filesystem from which their software can benefit, as being an add-on definitely means that not everyone will have it, just like .NET framework.