Things you may have never known about Vista..

Discussion in 'Main Lounge' started by Jason, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. Jason

    Jason

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    Disaster in Early Stages of Vista..

    The two big things that were cut from Vista (or rather, Longhorn) are WinFS—a database-like filesystem—and, perhaps more importantly, pervasive use of managed code. Early builds of Longhorn, back in 2003, had these in abundance. The Explorer shell hosted the .NET runtime, and shell extensions used .NET. There were several services implemented entirely in managed code. Win32 would not quite be dead (gotta look after all those legacy apps, after all), but it would see no changes in functionality going into the future.

    This would have been a significant step for Microsoft to take. They have been pushing .NET to developers, but so far haven't used it for anything substantial themselves. Some products can embed the .NET runtime (such as SQL Server) but do not actually use it for any functionality; some applications such as Visual Studio go further and contain a mix of managed and unmanaged code. But that's more or less the extent of it, and none of Microsoft's major applications use .NET in any substantial way. With Longhorn, Microsoft was set to incorporate substantial components written entirely in managed code. If nothing else, this would have been a good demonstration that .NET was up to the task of serious development.

    But the early builds of Longhorn were all scrapped; the original Longhorn codebase was based on Windows XP, and new pieces of code had been added willy-nilly. The result was a mishmash of features which didn't necessarily work very well and weren't very reliable. This was a big problem; there was great concern that important aspects such as performance and reliability would be worse than on XP. For a flagship OS, that was completely unacceptable. From a management perspective, it was also unmanageable; if new features are added without decent quality control, it makes it very hard to estimate ship dates.

    So the entire codebase was "reset." Instead of being based on XP, it would be based on Windows 2003 Service Pack 1. Although 2003 is itself based on XP, it had seen improvements in important areas such as reliability and security. That codebase also formed the basis for Windows XP on x86-64 platforms, so was probably better from a compatibility perspective, too. The development work on the old Longhorn wasn't completely scrapped; features from the old codebase were integrated into the new one, but this time they had to achieve much better standards of reliability and quality.

    So what did WinFS do exactly?

    WinFS was to be an attempt at a more database-like filesystem. Essentially, WinFS would allow certain objects—e-mails, documents, contacts—to be "decomposed." Objects placed in the WinFS data store would have various properties—for a contact, a name, an address, an e-mail address, a phone number, that kind of thing—exposed to WinFS, so that these attributes could be queried and indexed. Thus far, it's not too dissimilar from the kind of facility available in desktop search applications.

    There were to be a few differences, though. Objects within WinFS wouldn't necessarily live on the filesystem; they could live solely within the WinFS data store instead (with some appropriate magic to ensure that old file-based applications could still see and interact with them), although most files would retain a "real" (NTFS) file. WinFS allowed the metadata of the files in its store to be manipulated independently of the application that actually created those objects, and the metadata would also be writable. Any changes made to it would be propagated back to the "real" file. It also had some powerful synchronization capabilities. One could push changes made to one WinFS data store to another, for example, to get replicated storage. These features would go some way beyond what search applications can do.
     
    Jason, Jun 8, 2007
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