Questions about Longhorn, part 1: WinFS

Questions about Longhorn, part 1: WinFS. Over the next few days I want to explore a series of questions about the “pillars” of Longhorn — WinFS, Avalon, and Indigo. Last fall, when this stuff was first announced, I reacted with an entry entitled Replace and Defend. I argued then that Longhorn reinvents quite a few wheels. Nobody can blame Microsoft for seeking new ways to keep customers locked into its Windows franchise. That's a business strategy that every rational player must pursue, in one way or another. In chapter 6 of Information Rules, entitled Managing Lock-In, Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian write:

The great fortunes of the information age lie in the hands of companies that have successfully established proprietary architectures that are used by a large installed base of locked-in customers. And many of the biggest headaches of the information age are visited upon companies that are locked into information systems that are inferior, orphaned, or monopolistically supplied.

There's no question that Longhorn aims for lock-in — it has to. But what is the nature of the bargain that's being offered? What kinds of benefits will it yield? And what kinds of headaches will accompany those benefits? [Jon's Radio]

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