As Tim Bray says “Wow”. Here is the announcement post with a huge number of comments. This is discouraging. As I have argued before, we need the kinds of capabilities WinFS was striving for to make the next leap in managing information. I remain skeptical that database platforms are a sufficient solution for effective object management – they may be the necessary next step, but they are certainly not the ultimate answer.
There are no doubt many easier, shorter-term ways to get return on software development than a radically different operating system, but hopefully at some point there will be sufficient recognition by all the software infrastructure vendors that working together to build a modern OS would be worth it. On the other hand, perhaps what has happened to WinFS is really a sign that the days of huge operating systems are numbered. The problems are really bigger than any one platform. What kind of cross-platform infrastructure is feasible to accomplish the fluid, granular and meaningful interchange of content and behavior we know we need? This is a more interesting question than whether WinFS itself is dead.
UPDATE: There is a lot of commentary out there, but as usual Jon Udell has a.