Interesting threads on an internal Microsoft alias today. Employees are questioning why we (Microsoft employees) can't just own up to the truth and stop spinning when we have bad news to report.
Yeah, we're talking about Charles Miller's post about the death of WinFS where he took Microsoft to task.
It's not human nature to admit that you tried to do something and failed at it.
And, it's very hard to share where failure's lessons will be applied in the future because that'd be tipping your hand to your competitors about what you're doing in the future.
What happened to WinFS?
The Web killed it. *
The Web is how people use computers now and will in the future. Steve Gillmor loves to say Office is dead. Well, that has yet to be seen (whether Office dies or not is in that team's hands) but WinFS was a technology that'd have a hard time getting going because it's anti Web. It'll be interesting to see if this stuff comes back in a Web way. Ray Ozzie to the rescue!
* Update: this is my theory. I don't really know why it was killed but when teams and companies don't come clean and give us some transparency into why things get done then people will make stuff up. And, it is interesting timing that this came a week after Bill Gates announced he was going to be less involved in Microsoft and went on summer vacation.
Update 2: Shishir Mehrotra of the WinFS team wrote me and other bloggers who are talking about this internally and said my theory is wrong and that WinFS hasn't died at all, but is actually being rolled into SQL Server and a new project that's under development.