Rather than fix its Drive Extender technology, Microsoft has decided to abandon it in the new version of Home Server.  (Source: Dave's Computer Tips)
Episode is latest in Home Server's rocky history

Selling servers to home users isn't exactly a trivial task given that most either don't have the money to buy the devices or don't have the understanding to set them up and make them work.  Still, Windows Home Server represented a fairly intelligent effort to bring consumers on board.  It sold home servers under the premise of home backup and media machines, and it came bundled with reasonably priced, super easy to set up hardware from companies like HP.

Unfortunately, bugs plagued the OS in the beginning.  For months a bug that corrupted users' files went unfixed.  And now in the wake of that mess and the eventual fix Microsoft has made the curious decision of abandoning one of its key technologies for the operating system -- Drive Extender.

The decision only applies to the new version of Home Server, code-named "Vail", that is currently in beta and will soon go on all the new server products.  It also applies to Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2.  The existing version of Home Server will not be impacted.

With the move Microsoft has made the risky decision of throwing out what was one of the primary selling points of the operating system.  Drive Extender was a feature that would take all your internal and external drives connected to the server and combine them into a single storage pool.  With that single storage pool in place it was much quicker and easier to make backups or share a large media library.

Problems did plague the feature, though.  Backups proved problematic, and when the backups failed users were left with no way of recovering their lost files as the Server OS's didn't have the same recovery features as Windows 7.  Furthermore, Microsoft says that users should just go out and buy bigger hard drives.  It says that the advent of relatively affordable 1 TB and 2 TB drives makes drive extender obsolete.

The decision to ditch Drive Extender was announced blog post.

Many customers who were hoping to purchase a Home Server with the intent to combine a bunch of old hard drives into a single storage site are now even more irate.  They apparently wanted Microsoft to 
fix the feature, not ditch it.

States one commenter, "Well, congratulations.  I have 3 HP MediaSmart servers in my family, and was planning on going with a new one based on Vail when it got released.  Good job, MS- you've just shot yourself in the foot."

Another remarks, "Most stupid decision ever. It was THE main selling point. All the people I sold a home server got it for THAT reason. Else, they would have bought just another NAS."

There are always some sour grapes with any major decision to drop features, but in this case one has to wonder whether Microsoft's decision seems highly questionable.  After all, it has effectively eliminated one of the biggest selling points of its Home Server OS.  And given that it was a tough sell in the first place, that could be disastrous to the future of Home Server.

Home Server "Vail" products will launch in the first half of next year.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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