Windows 8: Getting a new filesystem

I don’t pay much attention to Microsoft and Windows these days. I admit it, I am a hardcore Mac and Linux user, more comfortable in the unix shell than I ever was at a Dos prompt.

It’s easy to forget the layers and layers and layers of complexity that exist in any operating system nowadays, even a little Android tablet (which I am spending lots of time with lately.)

So this article is a good reminder of what’s happening up in Redmond. It describes the “next generation file system for Windows“:

“Our design attributes are closely related to our goals. As we go through these attributes, keep in mind the history of producing file systems used by hundreds of millions of devices scaling from the smallest footprint machines to the largest data centers, from the smallest storage format to the largest multi-spindle format, from solid state storage to the largest drives and storage systems available. Yet at the same time,

Windows file systems are accessed by the widest array of application and system software anywhere. ReFS takes that learning and builds on it. We didn’t start from scratch, but reimagined it where it made sense and built on the right parts of NTFS where that made sense. Above all, we are delivering this in a pragmatic manner consistent with the delivery of a major file system—something only Microsoft has done at this scale. (from Building the Next Generation File System for Windows: ReFS)

Reading the article is not as satisfying as the build up. I guess not surprisingly, given that by definition the article has to over simplify and really hide the wheels within wheels.

I have written many times about Microsoft’s amazing ability to build complex products and support a user base across a crazy variety of versions, hardware, software, countries, eras and so on. The challenge that they take on with Windows 8, apparently massively changing the on-disk structures of their file system while preserving API compatibility is daunting.

So while I am not a Microsoft fan or booster, I still have enormous respect for them.

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