Windows Home Server "Vail" console logon screen  (Source:
Next generation of Windows Home Sever is built on top of Windows Server 2008 R2

For those of you that rely on the nifty Windows Home Server platform, Microsoft has a nice gift for you today. The company announced today that the next generation of its Windows Home Server software, codenamed Vail, has now entered the public beta phase.

Microsoft is making a number of changes to the operating system's hardware requirements with the main one being that Vail will only run in 64-bit mode. As for new features, the Windows Team Blog highlights these refinements to the platform:

  • Extending media streaming outside the home or office
  • Multi-PC backup and restore
  • Simplified setup and user experience
  • Expanded development and customization tools for partners
The folks over at have already posted their preview of the new operating systemand have uploaded a slew of screenshots of Vail. With regards to the new video streaming capabilities,'s Alex Kuretz comments, "Video streaming is also included and features on-the-fly transcoding of files on the server. This means that when you start to stream a video over the web interface, your server will automatically convert it to a resolution and format that streams well."

We Got Served has also posted their thoughts on the Vail here.

Vail, which is now based on Windows Server 2008 R2, can be downloaded from Microsoft Connect. Microsoft recommends that you install this beta build onto a secondary machine as it is test software and it will completely wipe all the data from the machine.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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