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WinFS' Groove Factor

Whenever Microsoft talked about WinFS in the past, the emphasis was on the technology's usefulness for search and file navigation.

Since disconnecting WinFS from the Windows Vista-Longhorn client operating system a year ago, Microsoft said almost nothing about the technology. Now that the technology is back in the spotlight, the emphasis is off search and navigation.

"We emphasize WinFS being a data platform," says Quentin Clark, director of program management for WinFS.

Two big things have changed in the interim. For one thing, Microsoft figured out how to use and optimize the existing indexing service in Windows to provide more sophisticated search and file-and-folder navigation functionality in Vista -- WinFS isn't necessary to provide the functionality, although Microsoft officials contend search will be greatly enhanced when WinFS ships.

Second, Microsoft bought Groove Networks, the company associated with Ray Ozzie, who is now Microsoft's chief technology officer for collaboration. One of Microsoft's current objectives is to figure out how to fit Groove's peer-to-peer collaboration software into its product portfolio.

The connection between Groove and WinFS isn't immediately obvious, but Peter Spiro, Microsoft general manager of SQL Server for WinFS, brought one to light in a recent blog posting. "A few years back Ray Ozzie came to Microsoft to speak [about his company Groove Networks] at an internal workshop. ... [Groove] was a pretty cool app trying to be a platform (tough to do for a small company). ... His comment to me was that Microsoft should build such a platform and stop selling the same old operating system and storage capabilities ... He was right; and I told him we had already started on it, and that it was called WinFS," Spiro wrote.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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