The acknowledgement is significant, given that Microsoft has been reticent to offer any details on WinFS since the company decided in August to cut the WinFS information storage and retrieval feature from both the client and server versions of Longhorn.
Longhorn client is set to ship in 2006; Longhorn server in 2007, according to Microsoft.
Company officials have declined repeatedly to project when or how Microsoft would deliver WinFS to developers and customers.
Microsofts silence had lead some industry watchers to speculate that WinFS would be relegated to the fate of "Cairo," the object file system that Microsoft touted throughout the 1990s but never managed to deliver.
A year ago, WinFS was slated to be one of the four main pillars of Longhorn.
The other three, which are still set to be part of the next-gen Windows release, are the "Avalon" presentation subsystem; the "Indigo" communications subsystem; and the "Fundamentals" technologies that will improve Windows performance, security and reliability.
Microsoft decided to back-port both Avalon and Indigo to older versions of Windows—Windows XP and Windows Server 2003—in order to maintain backward compatibility and help seed the application-development market, officials said. But it made no such promises for WinFS, which resulted in many developer, customer and industry-watcher questions about WinFS fate.