Much like the legendary Loch Ness Monster, WinFS seems to pop back up only when we have firmly decided that it does not exist. Yes, the Microsoft Developer Network has now gotten its hands on the state of the art file system, which up until recently was looking like it was as much of a myth as the Scottish Monster. The company surprised developers on Monday by releasing a test version of a new Windows file system, which will replace NTFS as the default system for Windows – eventually. We’ve been promised it many times, and indeed it was looking like the technology would make its way into Windows Vista for a while, but later announcements from Microsoft soon put an end to any hopes of that.

"I would certainly not characterize WinFS as being ahead of schedule," said Quentin Clark, director of programme management for the new file system.

Originally touting WinFS as the means that would enable better desktop file searching in Longhorn, Microsoft is now focusing on the benefits of the file system as a means for desktop applications to harness information stored in a common repository. For example, rather than entering shipping information in an ecommerce application, with WinFS, someone could simply click on his or her own card in a central address book and the information would be transferred to the appropriate place, Clark said.