Microsoft Monday released a test version of its next-generation file system, WinFS, well ahead of schedule.

The software giant made the first beta of the new file system available to Microsoft (Profile, Products, Articles) Developer Network subscribers, according to a company spokesman. Developers had not expected to see a test version of WinFS until next year, according to a previous timeline provided by Microsoft.

WinFS will not be a part of the next version of Windows, Windows Vista, when it ships at the end of next year, but will be available to the operating system as an add-on release sometime in 2007 , said Quentin Clark, director of program management for WinFS at Microsoft

WinFS Datamodel: