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Monday, October 27, 2003

Keynote 

Microsoft seem to be integrating XML into there new operating system at a depth that is even suprising to me. The entire user interface and the replacement for the OS win32 API, is being defined in a declarative XML language. XML is also being used to add metadata to all the object in the file system to allow some really interesting capabilities. This is being described as extending the base schema of the WinFS file system, but it isn't clear to me yet whether this refers to an actual W3C schema file or is a general reference to XML metadata. The way that a user can interact with the file system has also dramatically changed. The view of the system can be "self-organized" based on queried/navigated metadata and automatically captured relationship information to create dynamically generated views. This provides a very rich search capability that can span many different media types in an integrated "graph view". People are also given identities within the system and act as proxies for the collection of metadata and relationship data. Much of this information can be generated and automatically captured through drag-and drop of icons between dynamically generated views. This includes buddy lists peer to peer information sharing, faxing email, and the broadcasting of live screens captured from another user. For the end user this means that they can very easily search and display keyword like information that is either automatically or manually attached to files. For the developer, the file system can now be treated as a very rich metadata repository, where files can be manipulated with much of the power that was only possible in a database.

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