On March 13, a special report published on News.com site described the revival of an old Microsoft initiative. That News.com report said: “Microsoft is replacing the plumbing of its Windows operating system with technology borrowed from its SQL Server database software. Currently, documents, Web pages, e-mail files, spreadsheets and other information are stored in separate, mostly incompatible software. The new technology will unify storage in a single database built into Windows that’s more easily searchable, more reliable, and accessible across corporate networks and the Internet.”[…] I personally have written several letters to antitrust officials begging them to force Microsoft to publish the specifications of the Microsoft Office Application file formats. Such publication would really level the playing field, and allow users to decide on whichever office productivity applications they liked best. This, in turn, would give people much more flexibility in choosing operating systems. But just think — what if there were no file formats to publish? “Sorry judge, we would like to, but the data is not stored in files. It is stored in a database that is an indivisible part of the operating system.”
Read the editorial at NewsForge.
Our Take: While this filesystem will indeed introduce difficulties to alternative OSes regarding mounting and compatibility with “older” file formats, on the other hand, Microsoft should have the right to innovate. And as the article says, the file system is “in a single database built into Windows that’s more easily searchable, more reliable, and accessible across corporate networks and the Internet”. So, why the 94% of the desktop consumers should not be able to enjoy this easily searchable and more reliable filesystem db? Is it just because other operating systems (the rest 6% overall) will not have access into it? And at the end of the day, should this “other” 6% have access into it? Giving read (or write) filesystem access to a misson critical Windows system, it may not be a good idea after all. Surely this move will hurt the alternative OSes (but I just don’t believe that they started the SQL filesystem for this purpose, the db idea was around at Microsoft since 1993), but on the other hand, Microsoft is not bound and should not be bound by rival’s needs. Why should they?
Now, what Microsoft should do is publish the data structures of this new db filesystem, so other OSes will be able to modify e.g. PostgreSQL or mySQL to be able to read and write in this new filesystem. But holding Microsoft off from innovating in order the open source OSes to be able to play “catch up”, is just ridiculous and not fair. Not only unfair for Microsoft, but also for this 94% of the userbase, which translates into several millions.