Microsoft has released a test version of its next-generation file system, WinFS, well ahead of schedule.
The software giant made the first beta of the new file system available to Microsoft Developer Network subscribers, who had not expected to see it until next year.
WinFS will not be a part of the next version of Windows, Windows Vista, when it ships at the end of next year, but will be available to the operating system as an add-on release sometime in 2007, said Quentin Clark, director of program management for WinFS at Microsoft, reports Tech World.
According to PC World, When Microsoft first introduced WinFS in 2003, the company said it would include a new synchronization engine that could index a host of disparate Windows files such as photos, e-mail messages, MP3 files, and documents in a way that would enable users to more easily search and catalog these files on their PC, says Joe Wilcox, senior analyst at Jupiter Research.
"Originally there were capabilities around synchronization and search, among others, that looked very promising," he says.
However, with the changes Microsoft has since made to the WinFS release schedule, the file system's final feature list has been unclear. The test version may answer some of these questions, Wilcox says.
The WinFS beta includes a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) and schemas that allow developers to start working with the new file system and get accustomed to the new data model, says Clark.