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"Actually," Gates told CNET, "MSN is doing some nearer-term local-search things, building on that same technology." Actually, that would be the prime motivator of Microsoft innovation: the smell of competition--Google. Look at WinFS 2007 through Google-filtered glasses and the focus becomes clearer--adding what Gates calls "the tabular stuff" and what Allchin calls "table access" and "new synchronization capabilities to go to the server."
I can't imagine someone so openly challenging Gates and Allchin in the past, but such is the new ecology in the blogosphere. Maybe it's because Gates is so dismissive of the Google threat, pigeonholing it as just a technology problem that his search team can conquer. "They [Microsoft's search team] understand exactly what they're measured against and how everybody thinks Google walks on water, and they've got to surprise the world," Gates told CNET.