Microsoft’s new Windows 8 Resilient File System (ReFS) will be server only

By Tom Warren, on 1st Dec 11 9:46 pm with 27 Comments

Microsoft’s new file system for Windows 8 will only be available in server variants of the operating system, WinRumors has learned.

The software maker is currently readying a new file system as an offshoot to the original concept of Windows Future Storage (WinFS). According to sources familiar with the company’s plans, the new file system is called Resilient File System. The project originally started out as Monolithic NTFS (MNTFS) and then ended up codenamed Protogon before the final Resilient File System (ReFS) naming was chosen. Screenshots from the latest Windows 8 builds surfaced on Thursday demonstrating the new file system in action.

The naming reveals some of the concepts around what Microsoft is trying to achieve with the new file system. The idea is that server variants of Windows 8 will be able to utilise the new technology to improve file system resilience to hardware and software errors. The technology will not be widely used and is designed for specific use by server administrators. As a result, client versions of Windows 8 will not be able to utilise the new file system according to our sources.

Microsoft’s original Windows Future Storage (WinFS) concept made its way into Longhorn (Windows Vista) builds during the early beta phases. WinFS was first demonstrated in 2003 at the company’s Professional Developers Conference. Microsoft promised an advanced storage subsystem designed to manage data by means of a database. The WinFS database would allow any type of information to be stored in it alongside a defined schema for the data type. The idea was to speed up searching and data sharing between applications. Microsoft ditched the idea before Windows Vista was brought to market.

Microsoft hasn’t publicly discussed any plans to incorporate a new file system in Windows 8. The software giant did detail its large disk and large sector support in Windows 8 earlier this week. Microsoft plans to make it possible to install Windows 8 and boot from a 3TB or bigger hard disk. The support will be possible with UEFI firmware systems that allow Microsoft to take advantage of new partitioning techniques to better manage data stored on large disks.

  • Guest

    Oh well, we could always dream that WinFS was finally going to arrive on our desktops just ten short years after MS first said it would.

    • WixosTrix

      I think we have to understand the sad truth that Microsoft really lacked a defined leadership that was company-wide.  But I think it’s a good thing because it allowed others to enter the market with new ideas. 

      Could you imagine what our computers might look like if Steve Jobs hadn’t used Apple to show us how beautiful hardware and software could be.  I’m not saying there’s absolutely no way that could have happened without Apple, but I highly doubt the technology world would be the same at all.  Same for Google, redefining how information is found on the internet.  Without these occurrences, we could still be living in the world of AOL and MSN.

      So it sucks we have to kind of sit through this reboot, but I feel like in the end, Microsoft’s stumble was for the better.

    • Test1ngi23

      Really agree with your second paragraph!

    • Guest

      Of course you do. Morons seldom differ.

    • Anonymous

      We still live in the world of Windows, Office & Facebook.

    • Guest

      Huh? Catch the clue train. If it wasn’t for MS’s efforts with tablets circa 2000, Apple wouldn’t have been inspired to launch their own tablet effort with first led to iPhone and finally iPad.

      Apple inspired MS and others and Apple was inspired by MS and others. That’s the way it works.

    • WixosTrix

      I’m not disagreeing with that. But Microsoft’s vision of how tablets work and look was very industrial.

      I know they inspire each other. The experience of Windows Phone 7 is heavily inspired by iOS. I’m just saying, Microsoft wasn’t the stylish of companies and OEMs weren’t doing that great either.

  • Anonymous

    With the radical changes they are already making in Win8, perhaps a new file system would be too much to shoot for.  Have to leave some features for Windows 9 :)

    • GP007

      No need for a new FS when NTFS by design can have parts added/changed.  

  • Jairo Luciano Alves

    Why not on regular Windows 8?? I was really excited about real instant search and so on, now I’m rather sad.

    • Seth_p

      You’re not going to see “instant search” even with their new driver. Quicker, yes but not instant. As hardware and software progresses, you’ll have the appearance of instant search but we’re not there just yet. Whatever it is their doing and with little information we have, we can say this wouldn’t be of consumer notice. If this was going to be a feature, we would of seen it posted on TechNet’s Win Server 8 or Build 8 for Windows 8.

      Maybe Win9 ;)

    • Jairo Luciano Alves

      So please help me understand this. How come I can search the entire www in a few miliseconds and it is a huge hurdle to search for a couple of files in my local hd? Sometimes I feel really bugged about it. (Im no computer scientist..)

    • Seth_p

      The (ms) time is the time it takes the data center (for Google these are massive barrels) to crunch. When you send a string request you’re letting massive computing power return the workload. Not a notebooks 7,200 RPM or 5,400RPM disk you have at home. Also, it’s not “really” returning millions of results, Google & Bing (and others) have ways of pagenation where it remembers the sort order of your initial query so it makes a second round trip to get just page 2. So in essense it’ll always return a fixed # of results defined in your preferences/settings on the site.

      There is a lot more complexity to web searches, but in general they crawl metadata to help sort types of content. Once it collects the data in the backend it may index other information like keywords and some html content. They now have ways of “snapshotting” a page to include in the query so when you mouseover it’ll do another request for that indexed site. So queries will be fast since it’s all crunched ahead of time then reprocessed by the user (query request).

      On your desktop, Windows has a somewhat similar search sorting algorithm. It scores results from 0-1,000 with 1,000 being the entire filename found and 0 the file not indexed. Microsoft tries to index all files during idle state, so when you’re away from your PC it’ll pick up the missing pieces. When you do a search, it’ll look for matching filename, properties and lastly metadata (actual content). When it falls back to metadata this is where it’s [sllllow] – since it’s actually searching through Word documents, e-mail headers, url history, Control Panel strings, powerpoints, etc. After it’s done it has to sort, so in Win7 you have Programs, Control Panel, Video, Music, Documents. You’re also doing this on a slow disk with different hardware specs from something like a web server from Microsoft or Google’s end.

      That’s a really quick overview since there’s so much, like Windows including some artificial intelligence for estimating and pre-loading applications or the continuous advancements in Google/Bing search algorithm. Sorry for the long post :

    • Jairo Luciano Alves

      Seth_p thank you very much for your great answer. I was wondering about it for ages and really appretiated you taking the time and sharing this knowledge. :)  Alson, you would be an excelent teacher!! thank you.

  • Tom Servo

    It has shit to do with WinFS. Ever since Rafael misinterpreted these Sqm function references, people keep harping about it. It’s a damn NTFS fork and nothing more.

    • Guest

      But how do you really feel about it? Don’t hold back.

    • Tom Servo

      Well, look who’s butthurt after questioning his competence.

  • Anonymous

    I’m just hoping that Microsoft and Apple would sit down together and create a file system that works on both Windows and OSX. I hate having to create a -32GB partition on my external hard drive just to transfer files between both OSes

    • lol

      No doubt Microsoft has approached Apple with this proposal but Apple has probably refused due to protecting their oh so shiny image.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t see how creating a file system would effect Apples image. If Microsoft and apple did make a new cross-platform file system it would make so many Mac/PC users happy

    • Martin O. Hansen

      use exFAT?

  • Anonymous

    WinFS is/was NOT a file system. But rather an indexed storage back end that sits on top of NTFS. Why do everyone always get this wrong?

    • Jordan Graf

      Perhaps it was the FS in its name. 

    • Superjonathan100

      True, but it originally started off as a file system, which naturally gives it the chance of being one again.  Remember OFS?

  • CircuitSoft

    “ReFS has resilence to hardware and software errors” But Microsoft, consumers don’t have IT people to fix the errors. ReFS should be consumer only.

  • Neville Bagnall

    What did Monolithic NTFS provide over Transactional NTFS?

    I believe the new WinRT File APIs on the client side use Transactional NTFS to ensure ACID behaviour for file operations.

    Is it possible that ReFS uses copy-on-write to provide some ACID behaviour using older file APIs? Similar to ZFS?

    Alternatively might it be related to the Farsite distributed file system MS Research Project?

    Both seem more likely for a server side only FS than a reappearance of WinFS.

  • TakeRisks

     maybe new ReFS system run avaible with first promonience disk in win8 but this apps can 4 partition.This is silly microsoft must make useful apps for home users