Microsoft blogger Dare Obasanjo digs at Google’s Desktop Search and points to data visualization as the key to the success of Microsoft’s delayed WinFS. While Google and other “command line” search tools are useful for finding that one file that lays somewhere on the internet or on your hard drive, there is clearly a need for an easier way to browse through results visually. If it’s a picture, display the thumbnail – I don’t care if it’s a jpeg, gif, or Photoshop file.
The promise of WinFS is that it aims to turn every application [including file navigation applications like Windows explorer] into the equivalent of Outlook and iTunes when it comes to data visualization and navigation by baking such functionality into the file system APIs and data model. Trying to reduce that to “full text search plus indexing” is missing the forest for the trees. Sure that may get you part of the way but in the end it’s like driving a car with your feet. There is a better way and it is much closer than most people think.