Print 28 comment(s) - last by Ammohunt.. on Dec 2 at 3:38 PM

The largest supporter of Windows Home Server calls its quits

When it rains it pours. Last week we learned that Microsoft was dropping the popular Drive Extender feature from the next version of Windows Home Server, codenamed "Vail". Today we here even more damning news: HP is pulling out of the Windows Home Server market.

This is a huge blow to both fans of HP's tiny little MediaSmart Servers and to Microsoft. HP was easily the highest profile and largest shipping customer of Windows Home Server devices and this news could very well be a death blow for the platform.

For its part, HP says that it will instead be focusing on bringing out webOS products in 2011 instead of working on niche products like MediaSmart Server. According to WeGotServed, lower than expected sales for the servers were probably a big reason for pulling out of the market, although the removal of Drive Extender in Vail probably didn't do HP any favors either.

The Windows Home Server Team responded to the news on its blog reiterating that HP will continue selling its current MediaSmart Server products through the end of the year and that it will continue to support its current customers. Microsoft also explicitly denied any claims that the removal of Drive Extender was behind the motivation of HP to abandon the platform.

The future of the Windows Home Server platform doesn't exactly look bright now -- with HP now out of the mix, Microsoft could only offer up Acer and Tranquil as strong supporters of the platform.

“Vail will have a big impact on the home media environment, providing an easy streaming and seamless digital file sharing experience for consumers, and Acer is excited to be alongside Microsoft delivering on this goal,” said Gianpiero Morbello, Acer Group Corporate Vice President Marketing & Brand.

Maybe Microsoft knows something that we don't, but Vail could very well end up meaning "Fail" come next year.

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By PAPutzback on 12/1/2010 9:44:01 AM , Rating: 2
WTF MS. I consider my self pretty computer literate and can deal with including folders into libraries and such and even doing backups but the lack of DE combined with folder duplication is going to make life miserable for Vail users.

At least throw us a decent bone on your plans of how you expect people to handle the loss of folder duplication. For me I plan on sticking with my WHS for a long time until a similar replacement comes along. Drobos come close but are way to expensive.

By Spivonious on 12/1/2010 10:17:15 AM , Rating: 3
I agree. DE was the primary feature of WHS. Without it, it becomes like any other OS. Take a Windows 2000 box and share a few folders and you have Vail.

By FATCamaro on 12/1/2010 1:53:32 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry I use LVM & RAID extensively and it's not quite the same as DE which is great for advanced home use. It is a LOT more involved than having a redundant pool show up automatically. That said I don't mind LVM at all.

By Spivonious on 12/1/2010 1:59:02 PM , Rating: 2
LVM in Linux lets you set up RAID 1 like mirroring at the folder level while letting you add/remove drives of different sizes, all while the OS is running?

If so, that's pretty impressive, and I wonder why MS didn't port it over instead of writing their own.

By Ammohunt on 12/1/2010 2:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yes is does.. folders are meaningless in Linux. I can slice up,mirror, resize, reduce logical volumes all day long add drives of any size into a Volume group and its instantly availabe. and i disagree with the previous poster that says its way more involved then what MS offers a few LVM commands versus a few clicks of the mouse = seconds in both cases.

By Spivonious on 12/1/2010 3:18:14 PM , Rating: 2
Neat, I'll have to check that out next time I'm playing around with Linux. Do you know if it's included with the latest Ubuntu distro?

Windows can do logical volumes on the fly as well. I am really puzzled as to why the WHS team had so much trouble with DE.

By Ammohunt on 12/1/2010 5:39:39 PM , Rating: 2
I am sure it is but I recommend using Debian for learning debian based distros and LVM since its part of the install if you so choose. LVM has been around and functionally the same for ages in Unix I personally don't build a UNIX/Linux system without it. I first used it with HP-UX over a decade ago the Gnu version is pretty much identical.

My guess is they had a hard time porting it from a XP/2003 base to a Vista/Win7/2008 server since the OSes are very different.

By Spivonious on 12/1/2010 3:21:57 PM , Rating: 2
Also, does it play well with Samba? Maybe someone should put together a distro focused on providing WHS-like functionality.

By Ammohunt on 12/1/2010 5:47:08 PM , Rating: 3
LVM lives between the physical hardware and the Filesystem. i.e. Physical Volume(/dev/sda1)<-Logical Volume(/dev/sysvg/lv01/)<-Filesystem(ext3,ext4 resierfs etc..) There are some really cool projects that doing just that like FreeNAS and NexentaStor.

By sdsdv10 on 12/1/2010 7:01:52 PM , Rating: 2
It sounds interesting, but do you think they will be selling LVM based systems at Best Buy?
Like this:

By Ammohunt on 12/2/2010 3:22:51 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt they would sell packaged products but one never knows. I don't see why someone could not purchase one of these type of NAS devices an install FreeNAS on it since its basically just a lowend PC with a ton of disk.

By ekv on 12/2/2010 2:07:27 AM , Rating: 3
I realize ZFS, e.g. Nexenta community-edition, is not exactly intended for HTPC, but for an advanced user like you wouldn't it suit your needs better than WHS?

Much better perf, plays nice with Windows networks, not terribly difficult to install, support (and momentum) going forward, etc.

By cciesquare on 12/1/2010 11:09:17 AM , Rating: 2
"According to WeGotServed, lower than expected sales for the servers were probably a big reason for pulling out of the market,"

My assumption is that buyers were waiting on a new model with windows "Vail". I know I was.

I now might buy the EX495 since they will be killed.

RE: maybe
By Suntan on 12/1/2010 2:39:40 PM , Rating: 3
Show of hands, who hear thinks that HP made the decision to dump WHS after they talked to MS about the software makers future plans to put quality resources into the product themselves?

If your main component vendor for your product gives you inside information that they are looking to dry dock the OS your product line relies on in the immediate future, you’d probably decide to dump it and re-task those people too.

Finally, as a person who appreciates WebOS, this is good news to me.


RE: maybe
By vortmax2 on 12/2/2010 8:43:21 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, it's good news to see HP moving some resources to WebOS. Let's see how well this OS really does. New hardware would help...CES 2011...

RE: maybe
By rudy on 12/1/2010 3:00:28 PM , Rating: 2
I think that windows home server has a value problem. It is really awesome for advanced computer users but for the masses of average people it is another $500 that they do not understand that well. I think M$ should have integrated media center and WHS it makes sense that a media center would also do server work in it off time. It would bring more value to the program for me it just never made sense I would have to have 4 windows machines to live with just to get all the functionality I want.

Backup and file serving with WHS, WMC for HTPC and a laptop and desktop.

RE: maybe
By arazok on 12/1/2010 4:47:17 PM , Rating: 2
Bingo. I built a WHS box earlier in the year, and suffered with my XBOX for streaming as I just *knew* that Vail would integrate MC. After all, it was everyone’s #1 request. I planned to upgrade as soon as it was released. A box that plays anything, backups my PC’s, and has infinite storage capability with a simple to use interface? OK!

Then they released the beta, and MC was not there. Fail #1.

So I waited for popbox to come out, and it sucked (thank god I didn’t preorder). So I balked and bought a media center PC.

I still planned to upgrade to Vail, as I’d like to be on the 2008 platform (2003 seems picky and dated now). Now they yank DE. Fail #2

Why would I upgrade without this?

Microsoft has been trying to get a PC in every living room for at least 10 years, and with WHS they had it within their grasp, and they threw it away. No wonder why Apple is killing them in the consumer market.

By lonechicken on 12/1/2010 11:28:45 AM , Rating: 2
Without DE, how is it different than just setting up a Windows Server 2008 R2 box, feature-wise and power/energy-wise?

RE: So...
By namechamps on 12/1/2010 12:18:57 PM , Rating: 2
Ever look at price of Windows Server 2008 R2?

Standard w/ 5 CAL is going to run you $600.

RE: So...
By lonechicken on 12/1/2010 1:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I've been messing around at work with MSDN licenses so I hadn't paid attention to differences in prices.

Still, what is it that makes WHS more energy efficient if at all versus Windows Server 2008 or even Windows 7, if DE is taken out of the equation?

RE: So...
By Spivonious on 12/1/2010 2:03:03 PM , Rating: 2
Energy efficient? Probably the same, since they're both Win7 at their core.

But WHS is infinitely easier to setup than Server. Very user friendly. Even my completely computer illiterate mom could set it up.

Not Suprised
By Ammohunt on 12/1/2010 2:33:47 PM , Rating: 2
I never understood why WHS could not be the centerpiece to home and do HTPC duties as well as backups,internet e.g. PPPOE/Firewall/HTTP/VOIP filesharing and more. WHS is basically a backup server for a multi-pc household with file serving thrown is as an after thought(oh and goofy remote pc access capability. WHS was epic fail from the start.

RE: Not Suprised
By sdsdv10 on 12/1/2010 7:07:58 PM , Rating: 2
WHS was epic fail from the start.

Maybe for you, but for me and hundreds (thousands?) of others at places like "We Got Served" it has been a godsend. Almost zero learning curve, cheap to build (if you have parts laying around like I did) and very reliable. It is clear from your previous posts you have a different usage pattern, but for me and many others like me it was/is a perfect solution to a whole home backup/server appliance.

RE: Not Suprised
By Ammohunt on 12/2/2010 3:38:30 PM , Rating: 2
Not really a different usage pattern but WHS in my mind should have included more obvious features and took on a greater role as a server in the home.Imagine a single low powered server that perhaps controls the entire house? entertainment, environmentals, backups family website,remote access, email, network routing, lighting the list goes on and on. Still to this day i don't have a single home server solution i just abandoned HTPC functionality for an Apple TV and use a atom based Gentoo Linux server for Firewall/dhcp/dns/samba/ntp/http/ssh/mail duties(which i plan to replace with a Marvell based sheeva guru plug server running gentoo..wish me luck!).

Never would buy a HP WHS
By SurreDeth on 12/1/2010 12:47:34 PM , Rating: 2
Qnap eats their lunch.

RE: Never would buy a HP WHS
By MrFord on 12/1/2010 1:01:47 PM , Rating: 3
Qnap is a lot more limited than WHS.
Even more than Vail, even without Drive Extender.

Yes it sucks that they got rid of Drive Extender, and I really hope it finds its way back in the final version of Vail, without the file splitting bug.
But, with the exception of an OEM server (HP EX470 et al), you can still use all the Vail features (remote access, backup with Windows integration, media streaming, etc) with a normal RAID setup. Definitely not as convenient as Drive Extender, but the rest of the features are well worth it.

Still a mile better than a simple Samba server.

By Homerboy on 12/1/2010 9:23:14 AM , Rating: 4
maybe I can find one on the ultra-cheap now!

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