Being an OS junkie, I am knee deep into what Longhorn may bring. WinFS being one of them, so off I went looking for info on what was being called a great new file system that was to be included in Longhorn.

Well it turns out that the acronym of WInFS is not Windows File System, its Windows Foo System. Foo you ask, yup thats right, Foo!

Basically it's a database to store metadata (data about data) of actual files (my guess is the file system will me a updated version of NTFS)

Having a database of this kind of data makes for very powerful search capabilities among many other cool possibilities.

Now taking a bit of a history lesson, Apple moving from complex metadata to something more like we have in the current windows world. The operating system knows less about any given file type now in OSX than it did in the classic MacOS. One of the reasons for moving away from metadata was to allow for better integration with operating systems.

For example, if you move a file away from a system that supports metadata to one that does not, you loose all that information, so how useful is the metadata in the long run then? not very.

I do although think WinFS is a far step beyond anything Apple had before, since the metadata is stored not in the file as it was on the Mac, but in a database. But I think that in the end even moving the metadata between systems and file servers may prove to be difficult. I don't envy Microsoft for taking this on, it will be interesting to see how it turns out in the end.

Update: as per a readers comment, the Classic Mac platform put metadata in two places. The file and the "Desktop File" The Desktop file consisted of two hidden files: "Desktop DB" and "Desktop FS"

Given this information, apart from the SQL capabilities of WinFS, what so so cool about it? and if ultimately this concept of a database for metadata failed on a Mac, why makes Microsoft so sure that it will succeed?