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WinFS: Microsoft's Data Management Vision

WinFS Services

The SQL database stores the metadata relevant to indexing.

Besides for item management, WinFS takes on other services. One of them is called Info Agent and automates file tasks. For example, Info Agents can independently recognize which incoming mail attachments are potentially at risk for viruses and can ask how to proceed, or they can automatically task a virus scanner to make an inspection. In the same way, Info Agents can automatically remove temporary files less than 1 kB in size.

Microsoft sees the Info Agents as a variable instrument capable of unifying recurring tasks. The range of Info Agent duties is designed to be variable and adjustable using guidelines. An analogy to batch programming is tempting, with the difference that Windows not only lines up command chains but also allows causal links. The user defines which system tasks are automatically executed whenever certain events occur.

Synchronization is another service for comparing a selected data stock (contacts, documents, etc.) across several partitions, storage disks or external computers (peer-to-peer network). The clever thing about synchronization is that, aided by the corresponding schemes, it is also billed as functioning between formerly incompatible applications such as Outlook and CRM solutions. Before this can happen, however, developers have to first adapt the service flexibly to their own needs.

Virtual Folders

The possibilities offered by cross-referencing will make themselves felt in future Windows versions in a number of areas. It is feasible that even home users will be encouraged by the variable structure to adapt file management functions such as searches or the file explorer to their own specifications, for example by standardizing search paths. But that all depends on the development tools that Microsoft makes available. Only the route was sketched at the PDC in October. Complete implementation of the system, on the other hand, is likely to take one or several years to come to fruition.

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