Windows 8 found to include new "Protogon" filesystem

It appears as though the Windows 8 may include some filesystem changes after years of sticking with NTFS as the standard go-to filesystem. Discovered by ITWorld’s Sando Villinger, early builds of Windows 8 include a new filesystem driver codenamed “Protogon.”

I've also dug up traces of some underlying file system changes that I couldn't quite make sense of, such as an entirely new file system driver called "NT Protogon FS driver", which looks like a kernel mode driver for some sort of (yet unknown) file system called Protogon. It's unclear, whether this is a major new file system or just some minor subsystem.

It is unknown whether or not this new filesystem will end up replacing NTFS in the final builds of Windows 8, but “Protogon” is certainly there in the early builds that have been circulating. When Mary Jo Foley talked with Rafael Rivera about Protogon he discovered “it seems to incorporate database-like concepts like transactions, cursors, rows and tables” along with hints that it could emulate or replace NTFS altogether. Microsoft has attempted to introduce a new filesystem before but ultimately scrapped the project – WinFS was supposed to be included with Windows Vista; however it never saw any implementation into the operating system.  

Also interesting to note is that, as shown with the above screenshot, despite Windows 8 being able to recognize a drive as using the Protogon file system, it seems the Command Prompt chkdsk function has yet to be updated to support it, instead showing the drive as being RAW formatted. Clearly Protogon is in the very early development stages and certainly not ready for Windows prime time.

Image credit: BetaArchive | Thanks to Mephistopheles for the tip via IRC

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i believe this filesystem format will allow faster spin/transfer rates... and whatever goes with it .. and most importantly more reliabilty, applications and games loading faster as well

There needs to be a correction to the article.
"Microsoft has attempted to introduce a new filesystem before but ultimately scrapped the project - WinFS was supposed to be included with Windows Vista; however it never saw any implementation into the operating system."
WinFS was never a filesystem - just an extension on top of NTFS.

WTH! People have no idea about how well built NTFS is but are calling it obsolete. With SSDs' instant random access times, defragmentation is hardly an issue. Also note that years of sticking with NTFS doesn't mean the file system stagnated. NTFS is a very well designed and robust file system since NT 3.1 days and new versions of Windows always brought in improvements to NTFS.

Most people who get an erection for WinFS don't even understand what it was meant to do. Windows Search and the metadata property system in Windows Vista/7, SQL Server 2008, SQL Compact, ADO.NET, Sync framework technologies already do bits of what WinFS intended to do although not as richly as a relational DB or in a common schema that can be shared across applications.

xpclient said,
WTH! People have no idea about how well built NTFS is but are calling it obsolete. With SSDs' instant random access times, defragmentation is hardly an issue. Also note that years of sticking with NTFS doesn't mean the file system stagnated. NTFS is a very well designed and robust file system since NT 3.1 days and new versions of Windows always brought in improvements to NTFS.

Most people who get an erection for WinFS don't even understand what it was meant to do. Windows Search and the metadata property system in Windows Vista/7, SQL Server 2008, SQL Compact, ADO.NET, Sync framework technologies already do bits of what WinFS intended to do although not as richly as a relational DB or in a common schema that can be shared across applications.

ironically those people hate win7 labs and instant search

great, they are going to invent a new way to kill the harddrive faster than before. Oh, its all SSD now, no?.

So is it possible that will get rid of ythe 256 character limit? Will it be easier to Windows and the bios recognize HDD of 5,10,20 Tb?

Billy Gun said,
So is it possible that will get rid of ythe 256 character limit? Will it be easier to Windows and the bios recognize HDD of 5,10,20 Tb?

Nope new file system has nothing to do with what the BIOS supports. BIOS will still be limited to less that 2TB

SharpGreen said,

Nope new file system has nothing to do with what the BIOS supports. BIOS will still be limited to less that 2TB

Indeed, that's why we have EFI now

Billy Gun said,
So is it possible that will get rid of ythe 256 character limit? Will it be easier to Windows and the bios recognize HDD of 5,10,20 Tb?

256 is a limit of the WinAPI, actually inherited from DOS. NTFS itself doesn't have such a limit, neither are characters that are rejected by the WinAPI forbidden in NTFS…

Examinus said,
WinFS wasn't a filesystem, was it?

WinFS was designed as a layer on top of NTFS. Basically it would index the contents into a SQL-like database, and much of that technology went into Vista and 7 for smart-search and instant-search.

Protogon is most likely not a new filesystem, but rather advancement of the NTFS filesystem, hence the "NT Protogon FS".

wolftail said,
does anyone still have the WinFS installer because i can't find it anywhere?

Ya. It's floating on my technet account.

yowan said,
Might it come to Win7 via SP2/3?
It would be cool, but I wouldn't get my hopes up. Microsoft has become a bit less keen on backporting stuff lately, even more so if it's going to be a selling point for Windows 8.

yowan said,
Might it come to Win7 via SP2/3?

The MS that discontinued WLM for XP although it's still widely used?
Don't get your hopes up.
(I see how not supporting XP with IE versions is a sensible decision to some extend, but as we all know MS loves refusing access to it's IM network with old versions of messengers, so WLM is essentially dead for XP quite soon (still connecting, but how long?))

Indeed, dimz, MS has way less sense for backporting than they used to have...

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

The MS that discontinued WLM for XP although it's still widely used?
Don't get your hopes up.
(I see how not supporting XP with IE versions is a sensible decision to some extend, but as we all know MS loves refusing access to it's IM network with old versions of messengers, so WLM is essentially dead for XP quite soon (still connecting, but how long?))

Indeed, dimz, MS has way less sense for backporting than they used to have...

GS:mac


theres still amsn, pidgin, trillian etc. to replace WLM issues on XP.
they never really backported everything, they focus more on backwards compatibility, Microsoft is a company that normally tries to push everyone into their newer softwares.
Even tho Vista/7 push out Win9x, still many of 9x is still supported.
Altho some functionality gets backported, but thats generally for cooperations. And lots of it is still available through the MS KB.

I've always wondered, why doesn't the Windows world use symbolic links more like in the Linux world. I think they make certain tasks like linking shared object files (dlls) much simpler.

MS Lose32 said,
I've always wondered, why doesn't the Windows world use symbolic links more like in the Linux world. I think they make certain tasks like linking shared object files (dlls) much simpler.

I believe they are called NTFS streams.

MS Lose32 said,
I've always wondered, why doesn't the Windows world use symbolic links more like in the Linux world. I think they make certain tasks like linking shared object files (dlls) much simpler.

We are heavily! Every localized version of Windows starting with Vista relies for the localized name of folders on SymLinks. (e.g.: "Programme" is a symlink in the german version of Vista/7 and points to "Program Files", which is hidden in explorer. There are tons of examples like this…)
Actually in NTFS there are several types of links: hardlinks, softlinks, junctionpoints all of which are used…

MS Lose32 said,
I've always wondered, why doesn't the Windows world use symbolic links more like in the Linux world. I think they make certain tasks like linking shared object files (dlls) much simpler.

They do, the \Windows\winsxs directory does this. It's the side-by-side DLL deployment model that was introduced in XP\2003.

"Protogon?" Anyone care to take a crack at that name? The "proto" part I can understand, the name as a whole though, ???.

ir0nw0lf said,
"Protogon?" Anyone care to take a crack at that name? The "proto" part I can understand, the name as a whole though, ???.

Don't know, but I got one for "protagon"
Pro´ta`gon
n. 1. (Physiol. Chem.) A nitrogenous phosphorized principle found in brain tissue. By decomposition it yields neurine, fatty acids, and other bodies.

ir0nw0lf said,
"Protogon?" Anyone care to take a crack at that name? The "proto" part I can understand, the name as a whole though, ???.
Well, it sounds close to the modern greek word for primitive, "πρωτόγονος", or protogonos if you prefer it romanised(or whatever it's called).

ir0nw0lf said,
"Protogon?" Anyone care to take a crack at that name? The "proto" part I can understand, the name as a whole though, ???.

Codename.

ir0nw0lf said,
"Protogon?" Anyone care to take a crack at that name? The "proto" part I can understand, the name as a whole though, ???.

I'm thinking...
Proto-gon

Proto = Prototype (pretty typical)
-gon = the standard suffix. May refer to an angular or an angled approach.

The other idea was that Protogon may refer to puzzle solving or riddle solving as they may be doing here.

As the writer for a tech site, I would assume the writer would know that WinFS was NOT a filesystem. and FS did NOT stand for File System, but Future Storage.

6205 said,
Uhm... now can linux developers start from scratch again when is NTFS-3G finally usable...

The NTFS-3G driver has long been considered stable and usable in linux. If they go the right way with protogon then they will setup an entirely new fs.

would make sense to have a file system like this so you could easily replicate transactions in a distributed fashion online and offline a lot easier than having nasty 3rd party tools do it their own unique way - hint hint backing up/running from cloud so on and so forth hint hint

What tech journalists failed to understand back in 2005, is that WinFS was not a replacement of NTFS. It was just databases/indexing services sitting on top of standard NTFS. (the WinFS partition could even be read on windows XP)

People said it sucked that WinFS was removed from longhorn without even knowning what it really was! If was mainly features added to the FS designed for developpers, not end users!

link8506 said,
What tech journalists failed to understand back in 2005, is that WinFS was not a replacement of NTFS. It was just databases/indexing services sitting on top of standard NTFS. (the WinFS partition could even be read on windows XP)

People said it sucked that WinFS was removed from longhorn without even knowning what it really was! If was mainly features added to the FS designed for developpers, not end users!


This is true, and what even more peopel fail to realize is that a big part of WinFS was left behidn in Vista in the form of Instant search(windows search) and Saved/smart searches. And with Windows 7 most of WinFS had returned with the libraries.

link8506 said,
What tech journalists failed to understand back in 2005, is that WinFS was not a replacement of NTFS. It was just databases/indexing services sitting on top of standard NTFS. (the WinFS partition could even be read on windows XP)

People said it sucked that WinFS was removed from longhorn without even knowning what it really was! If was mainly features added to the FS designed for developpers, not end users!

+1

And the majority of the features are in Vista and Win7, just a bit different than the original WinFS vision. However the search engine and the metadata usage and the SQL like operations that can be performed on data - even by developers - is all still there.

The chunks that didn't make it are few and tiny, and many of them were redundant when NTFS was already capable of providing the core features needed. The trick is/was getting people off of using FAT drives for storing data and their documents/etc on secondary and external drives and adding them to the seach index. (I think a nice graph of data loss difference between using FAT and NTFS would scare the hell out of people and they would move everything to NTFS, finally.)

Would like to know the advantages over NTFS if any. Otherwise, it would be pretty pointless and a lot of incompatibility with storage drives, etc.

Ishanx said,
Would like to know the advantages over NTFS if any. Otherwise, it would be pretty pointless and a lot of incompatibility with storage drives, etc.

There are a ton of features opened up by file systems that operate like this. Anything from easier backup/replication to intelligent storage / de duplication and easier to distribute across multiple disks or faster seeks on larger disks so on and so forth.

Ishanx said,
Would like to know the advantages over NTFS if any. Otherwise, it would be pretty pointless and a lot of incompatibility with storage drives, etc.

Mhm, can't wait for a Beta release of Win8. So.many.things.

Ishanx said,
Would like to know the advantages over NTFS if any. Otherwise, it would be pretty pointless and a lot of incompatibility with storage drives, etc.

I'm all for it if it's a journalling file system.

Compatibility wouldn't be much of an issue I would think. Considering for external drives you'd probably continue to use FAT32 or NTFS if you plan to exchange files with others, so it'd be your internal HDDs you'd use the new file system with.

Ishanx said,

Mhm, can't wait for a Beta release of Win8. So.many.things.


+1!
It's the new Longhorn! *drools*
Good times... brought back by MS! Thank you!

Really anticipating it!

GS:mac

Ishanx said,
Would like to know the advantages over NTFS if any. Otherwise, it would be pretty pointless and a lot of incompatibility with storage drives, etc.

Clearly they wouldn't create a new filesystem if it didn't have advantages.

Skittlebrau said,

I'm all for it if it's a journalling file system.

Compatibility wouldn't be much of an issue I would think. Considering for external drives you'd probably continue to use FAT32 or NTFS if you plan to exchange files with others, so it'd be your internal HDDs you'd use the new file system with.

1) NTFS is a journalling file system, so huh?
2) NTFS and NT used journalling for OS level operations prior to Vista. In Vista and Win7 it is used for everything. (This is the whole transactional nature of NTFS, how the search and other technologies know what has changed, etc.)

So again, huh?

MS Lose32 said,
Haha! The screenshot maker is running Linux! Looks like Gnome 3.

why does that matter? They could be running OSX for all I care..

K.John said,
WinFS was the first thing that came to mind. It would be so cool to see that implemented. (finally)

+1! It would be awesome to see it return in a new form. Hardware limitations seemed to be the biggest limitation it had, but hardware has come a long way since then.

virtorio said,
WinFS isn't a file system, and elements of it made it into Windows Vista and 7.

Well, WinFS wasn't a file system, but it very well could have been. It had originally started off as OFS which was a file system, & in the end it was a file system addon. & frankly, people have been speculating Protogon could be the return of WinFS, including, (& I quote,) "experts on #nttalk," (#nttalk's a Microsoft chatroom,) so if so this could very well be the return of it in file system form.

As for elements of it in Vista & Windows 7, that would be virtual folders, which was about 1% of it or something. & while virtual folders were in the final version of Windows 7, for Vista it was only in the beta...

virtorio said,
WinFS isn't a file system, and elements of it made it into Windows Vista and 7.

Most of the WinFS elements went into SQL 2007 or w/e the newest version was that released around Vistas timeframe.

P!P said,
Cool. Will Windows 8 have WinFS after all? I'm all for it.

you are all for it and you have no idea what it is

MASTER260 said,

Well, WinFS wasn't a file system, but it very well could have been. It had originally started off as OFS which was a file system, & in the end it was a file system addon. & frankly, people have been speculating Protogon could be the return of WinFS, including, (& I quote,) "experts on #nttalk," (#nttalk's a Microsoft chatroom,) so if so this could very well be the return of it in file system form.

As for elements of it in Vista & Windows 7, that would be virtual folders, which was about 1% of it or something. & while virtual folders were in the final version of Windows 7, for Vista it was only in the beta...

Was with ya up to the 'elements of it in Vista and Windows 7'...

The search database engine, the use of NTFS metadata to supplement data features, as well as a lot of other 'concepts' from WinFS made it into Vista and Win7.

WinFS was not so much 'scrapped' as it was realized it was not needed at the time, as it added 'overhead' on top of NTFS that was just not necessary and that 90% of the functionality could be implemented with the search engine and existing raw features of NTFS.

People don't seem to realize that with Vista and Win7 you can do SQL like queries and get row like results already. (Either through the traditional search boxes and even more so through the development APIs that can access the searching system.)

The metadata abilities of NTFS are also overlooked, which Microsoft had somewhat 'discouraged' because of FAT/FAT32 usage that was still around in WinXP days and still in use on removeable media where the metadata gets lost. This was partially moved back to where it should have been with Vista, stopping users from using FAT for system drives, and should be further discouraged for any data drives.

As for Protogon replacing NTFS, this would be a bit of a surprised and would have to be something pretty special, as we have yet to see a FS technology from the non-Microsoft world outside of the failed ZFS that even comes close to the features or performance of NTFS.

I am curious to see more on this FS, but since NT is like any adavanced OS, with installable FSs, this could be anything. Some things that this could also be:

1) Sllight changes to NTFS to make the search engine work easier.
2) Network FS technology for accessing SkyDrive, Exchange, etc.
3) Combination of NTFS and/or #1 and #2.
4) Removeable media FS for portability replacing FAT.

I would set bets that it might have more to do with the networking aspects, bringing Exchange, Skydrive, SQL, Sharepoint type access technologies that already exist in various forms, especially due to the cloud based features Win8 is can use even more than Win7 already does.

Right now, I can only speculate, as even if I made calls to find out, I couldn't say anymore, so throwing out my guesses first.

thenetavenger said,

4) Removeable media FS for portability replacing FAT.

we already have replacement it is called exFAT bulit-in vista/7
you have to install patch for xp for that.