Sunday, June 20, 2004

Dare Obasanjo - Jon Udell and WinFS

Obasanjo responds to Jon Udell's article, and his comments are surprisingly ambivalent for an employee of a company widely known as the Borg.

Jon Udell has started a series of blog posts about the pillars of Longhorn. So far he has written Questions about Longhorn, part 1: WinFS and Questions about Longhorn, part 2: WinFS and semantics which ask the key question "If the software industry and significant parts of Microsoft such as Office and Indigo have decided on XML as the data interchange format, why is the next generation file system for Windows basically an object oriented database instead of an XML-centric database?"

I'd be very interested in what the WinFS folks like Mike Deem would say in response to Jon if they read his blog. Personally, I worry less about how well WinFS supports XML and more about whether it will be fast, secure and failure resistant. After all, at worst WinFS will support XML as well as a regular file system does today which is good enough for me to locate and query documents with my favorite XML query language today. On the other hand, if WinFS doesn't perform well or shows the same good-idea-but-poorly-implemented nature of the Windows registry then it'll be a non-starter or much worse a widely used but often cursed aspect of Windows development (just like the Windows registry).

As Jon Udell points out the core scenarios touted for the encouraging the creation of WinFS (i.e search and adding metadata to files) don't really need a solution as complex or as intrusive to the operating system as WinFS. The only justification for something as radical and complex as WinFS is if Windows application developers end up utilizing it to meet their needs.
Obasanjo's comments are well worth taking into account; I for my part don't see how WinFS can possibly live up to the hype Microsoft is generating about it, especially in light of the amount of time and effort that has gone into dealing with these issues with regards to the W3C's Sematic Web initiative.

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