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back to article Billionaire baron Bill Gates still mourns Vista's stillborn WinFS

Five years after he stepped down from day-to-day involvement in Microsoft, co-founder and chairman Bill Gates has revealed his frustration that Windows Vista's database-like file system never saw daylight. In a question'n'answers session on the wildly popular cat'n'chat board Reddit, the world's richest geek was asked: “What …

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft refused to allow the OEM’s to pre-load BeOS ..

'The Be Operating System was fully multi-threaded and multi-tasking with memory protection built from the ground up to do advanced audio visual editing. Microsoft refused to allow the OEM’s to pre-load BeOS, Conlin recounted, or to put an icon on the desktop or load the boot manager to permit switching between OS's. Even with the strong support of its partner, Intel, just like what happened with DR-DOS and OS/2, BE OS failed to break the lock Microsoft has on OEMs. In 2001, Be dissolved'. Conlin told the jury: link

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft refused to allow the OEM’s to pre-load BeOS ..

@AC: " The case was eventually settled out of court for $23.25 million with no admission of liability on Microsoft's part"

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Stop

Re: BeFS

@Gene: It wasn't F/OSS, no, but I'm not sure where the "closed as hell" comes from, in that is was no more closed than any other desktop operating system. Be definitely caught a lot of hell from the Linux fanboys, basically for not being Linux.

@kain: No, BeOS was designed for its own system, the BeBox, which happened to be based on the same chip as the Mac at the time, which meant that porting it to the Mac would have been much simpler than porting it to x86 was. Gassee tried to sell BeOS to Apple, who wanted to pay far less for it than he wanted, and, of course, Jobs was making his comeback and brought NextStep in instead. Be then made a move to the x86 platform and tried to position BeOS as a competitor to Windows, which failed in part due to Microsoft's efforts to keep OEMs from bundling any competing operating system with their computers.

The lack of apps was definitely an issue, so Be pitched the OS at specialist users such as graphic designers and sound engineers who could make use of the pervasive multithreading and high responsiveness of the UI, but it never really took off in that market. It was definitely unfortunate, because it was the most responsive and advanced OS, from a user perspective, available in the market at the time, but the company didn't really have a notion of how to sell it, especially against Microsoft's market power.

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Re: Microsoft refused to allow the OEM’s to pre-load BeOS ..

In 1997, Power Computing began bundling BeOS (on a CD for optional installation) with its line of PowerPC-based Macintosh clones. These systems could dual boot either the Mac OS or BeOS, with a start-up screen offering the choice.

Due to Apple's moves and the mounting debt of Be Inc., BeOS was soon ported to the Intel x86 platform with its R3 release in March 1998

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BeOS

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Facepalm

Re: Microsoft refused to allow the OEM’s to pre-load BeOS ..

Good job, kain, you failed to read the first line of the article you quoted:

BeOS is an operating system for personal computers which began development by Be Inc. in 1991. It was first written to run on BeBox hardware.

Or the paragraph right above your quote:

Initially designed to run on AT&T Hobbit-based hardware, BeOS was later modified to run on PowerPC-based processors: first Be's own systems, later Apple Inc.'s PowerPC Reference Platform and Common Hardware Reference Platform, with the hope that Apple would purchase or license BeOS as a replacement for its then aging Mac OS. Apple CEO Gil Amelio started negotiations to buy Be Inc., but negotiations stalled when Be CEO Jean-Louis Gassée wanted $200 million; Apple was unwilling to offer any more than $125 million. Apple's board of directors decided NeXTSTEP was a better choice and purchased NeXT in 1996 for $429 million, bringing back Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

In fairness, I misremembered some of the history myself, such as the Hobbit, but your claim that BeOS was originally written for the Mac is clearly false.

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Anonymous Coward

And that was different than Resource fork/extended attributes how?

I never quite understood how WinFS was different than, say, extended attributes in ext[234] or XFS or ... , or different than the resource fork in the older Mac file systems.

It's a nice idea: a place to store metadata that isn't in the file, that can be more quickly accessed. Maybe if there were a good, portable API standard for such thing, as there is for file semantics (good old POSIX open/close/fopen/fclose and friends) it might have taken off.

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Bronze badge

Re: And that was different than Resource fork/extended attributes how?

I never quite understood how WinFS was different than, say, extended attributes in ext[234] or XFS or ... , or different than the resource fork in the older Mac file systems.

Well, for one thing, WinFS included schemas.[1] Part of the idea with WinFS was to provide some metadata for that metadata, so the metadata would be applied consistently, and applications wouldn't have to have a bunch of special rules for every file format invented by every programmer.

Beyond that, WinFS was built on RDBMS underpinnings and so would, in theory, have included database features like ACID processing, journals for recovery processing, etc.

Note that OS/2 had extended attributes long before ext2 was a gleam in Card's eye. Windows NT inherited EA support for FAT and HPFS filesystems from OS/2, and for NTFS (which is what essentially all Windows systems use now), they're supported via alternate streams, which is a more general alternative to both EAs and the Mac OS resource-fork feature. So Windows already had the equivalent to both the resource fork and extended attributes when WinFS was announced, and indeed had them for most or all of the Project Cairo timeframe (depending on how exacting you want to be about specifics).

So the WinFS team already knew all about simple metadata attachment. Microsoft has long used alternate streams for things like extended file properties - the feature that lets Explorer show the title of an Office document, for example. They were building something quite different.

[1] Or schemata, if you prefer.

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Happy

OS X has this built in (yeah for unix!)

This is how OS X time machine works. Time machine stores changes in the data base and undoes any saves until you get back to the version you want. It is also why you can simply connect a new Mac to your old one and bring over all of your data in a few hours and start working on the same system. My experience is that old software still eventually starts to crust things up over time. OS X does all of this, but it has weak filesystem support with hfs+. I am looking forward to when Apple gets around to replacing it! A clean install is still best practice for a new machine. I haven't had to do one since 2003 so I talking theoretically :-).

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Boffin

Re: OS X has this built in (yeah for unix!)

They were going to use ZFS, which would've been awesome given how ZFS is both a volume manager *and* a filesystem. Unfortunately, Apple didn't go through with licensing ZFS (which would've been much easier in the pre-Oracle Sun) which I suspect has something to do with Jobs' dick-wavering.

Oh well, we *do* have MacZFS, so it can be used on Macs, just without it being the bootable FS. Or encrypted using FileVault...

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Bronze badge
Unhappy

That "Rich" Buzzword

FTFA :- "We had a RICH database blah blah blah your cloud store will be RICH with schema blah blah blah and the client will be a partial replica of it with RICH schema understanding."

Why do I cringe whenever I hear the word "rich" in the context of some new scheme? Is it because it flags that someone is going to ram an idea down my throat that they think is great but I don't?

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Anonymous Coward

remote web servers to access structured and unstructured data stored in WinFS on the PC

What could go wrong?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: remote web servers to access structured and unstructured data stored in WinFS on the PC

Just like running your web server from an NFS mount, but with more richness in how and what you can access.

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Anonymous Coward

If Bill is feeling real badly...

...he could rebate every Microsucks O/S consumer in the world 3 million Euro for the abuse they have endured being forces to use such a POS O/S.

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Database as filesystem is so 1980

We had that when I worked on the Pick Operating System back in the 1980s.

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Re: Database as filesystem is so 1980

Yes, exactly.

Maybe I missed the point but the whole line that this was a revolutionary idea and so ahead of its time seemed odd to me. However I too spent a fair bit of time working on the old Pick boxes, and then the Power95 version on AIX, then on the UniData version.

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Silver badge

If Mr Gates so misses WinFS, and if it really is that good , the simple answer is to release the specification and code as open source and let the rest of the world decide how useful it is.

There are benefits and drawbacks to all file systems, so in a philanthropic gesture MS could easily help the world be a more secure place.

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too much for...mega-company to exclusively own

For which we give thanks to our respective deities every day.

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Happy

Longhorn

The code name Longhorn was one of the most appropriate chose.

The final product certainly was a cow.

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