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Microsoft moves one step closer to the RTM for Windows Home Server

Microsoft's Windows Home Server is progressing nicely and has achieved Release Candidate stage. Microsoft states that the new build will be available to over 100,000 beta testers along with people who wish to sign up now and test the software.

For those not familiar with Windows Home Server, it is a software application that can be installed on any PC in a home network to allow other networked computers access to files. Users can also have secure web access to files from anywhere in the world with a secure Internet connection.

There will also be hardware products branded as "Powered by Windows Home Server" that simply plug into your home router to provide access to files. Microsoft likes to tout that new internal or external devices added to a Windows Home Server device won't be treated as F:, G:, H:, etc. Instead, total available space will be increased by the size of the hard drive added and divisions between physical hard drives will be transparent to the user.

The first question to spring to many potential users mind is how a Windows Home Server is different from a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. Microsoft responds with:

More than just storage, Windows Home Server uniquely provides pre-defined shared folders, such as "Music" or "Photos" making it easier to organize and find your files. Windows Home Server also features simple storage extensibility, and built-in search capabilities... Also, in a Windows Home Server device with two or more hard drives, you can elect to duplicate folders. This prevents you from losing any photos, music, or other files stored in a folder that has "duplication" enabled, if a hard drive fails.

Pricing for Windows Home Server devices will be set by OEMs and will be available in the second half of 2007.

You can head over to the Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows to get an overview of Windows Home Server.

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I expect...
By EntreHoras on 6/13/2007 9:53:22 AM , Rating: -1
...that the server do more than only be a media storage solution and Internet proxy server.

RE: I expect...
By MatthewAC on 6/13/07, Rating: 0
RE: I expect...
By TomZ on 6/13/2007 10:43:41 AM , Rating: 4
I disagree - with more homes having multiple PCs and more people getting their content digitally, I think there is a big market for a product like this. I've had a server in my home for 4 years alrady for just this purpose.

RE: I expect...
By leidegre on 6/13/2007 11:14:56 AM , Rating: 3
"If you build it, they will come"

RE: I expect...
By crystal clear on 6/13/07, Rating: 0
RE: I expect...
By tdawg on 6/13/2007 12:41:44 PM , Rating: 2
These hardware devices are going to be all-in-one server solutions for homes that you can just take out of the box and plug into your router to create a kind of instant server so all the other computers in your house will have a centralized server and all the goodies that come from that.

This isn't to replace Vista or anything like that and it's not just hard drives or memory that will be labeled "Powered by Windows Home Server". If you don't want a hardware server solution from Microsoft, just build your own.

RE: I expect...
By crystal clear on 6/13/2007 1:01:49 PM , Rating: 2
As per your comment-I visualize "A BOX" that sits between the router & say 3 PCs spread around the house.

Again M.S should have some really convincing solutions/answers/explainations to get people to look at it as "MUST HAVE" in the house.

If not buyers will not take on to this idea !

RE: I expect...
By tdawg on 6/13/2007 1:09:24 PM , Rating: 2
I see it that way as well. However, for households that don't have people ready to build their own servers for central storage and data access, this will probably be pretty helpful. Imagine setting something up for your family that ties together one or two PCs and a laptop and allows all of them to access data from a central store, coupled with the ability for you to remotely access the server to fix problems, etc.

I imagine this device will be used for more "simple" server setups than could be achieved by most people here. That and it does seem to include some decent features. I guess we'll just have to see.

RE: I expect...
By crystal clear on 6/13/2007 2:19:19 PM , Rating: 2
If you don't want a hardware server solution from Microsoft, just build your own.

That prompts me tell you that -I converted my PS3 to a Linux server (experimenting on weekends)

"Yellow Dog Linux v5.0 utilizes the IBM 64-bit 3.2 GHz Cell processor to provide a powerful state of the art Linux server for Sony PLAYSTATION¨3."

RE: I expect...
By SmokeRngs on 6/13/2007 5:34:40 PM , Rating: 2
I see it that way as well. However, for households that don't have people ready to build their own servers for central storage and data access, this will probably be pretty helpful.

I agree that this would probably be the main use for this. However, MS and whoever uses this to manufacture pre-made boxes are going to have to sell the idea aggressively. While it may be useful, for people to buy another computer so they can share files between all computers in the house they will need reasons.

I'm not putting down the product, but a new market will basically need to be created to make this viable in the long run. Some people already have a setup similar to this and it may be a hard sell to get them to purchase this as they already have a solution. This is also a small group and won't have the numbers to make something like this a success. I think the target audience for something like this will have to be the average consumer. That group is large enough to make this a profitable endeavor. I think it will take a lot of advertising to get it mainstream, though.

I base most of my comments on pre-built boxes that have this installed for the OS. I don't see this OS being a big seller at the retail level.

This should bring about some interesting hardware solutions. I would assume it won't need much processing power so the hardware requirements other than drive space should be light.

I wonder how long it will take before a box like this becomes an accessory on Dell's website.

RE: I expect...
By Lord 666 on 6/13/2007 1:59:32 PM , Rating: 2
Always wondered why WHS couldn't be used with a Xbox 360 instead of a PC based machine or have a special Xbox 360 - WHS edition.

Microsoft could sell an add-on license for existing consoles as well so most or all of WHS features can be used along with either larger main drive and/or large attached drive.

RE: I expect...
By BMFPitt on 6/13/2007 11:51:35 AM , Rating: 3
This is the first I've heard about this product, so I'm slim on details, but if an easier more elegant solution comes along, a power user will try it. Not to mention find it to be a better solution for setting up a non-power user in a configuration that they won't easily break.

From the brief description, this sounds like a much better solution than my current shared folders & FTP server setup. I'm going to sign up for the Beta.

RE: I expect...
By MonkeyPaw on 6/13/2007 5:49:25 PM , Rating: 2
I see this as the next step in the evolution of the PC. Now that people have multiple PCs in one home, information has become fragmented. I'm sure that most multi-PC households end up checking every PC in the house for things like their vacation photos or family videos. I'm sure quite a few people dread buying a new PC because they aren't sure how to move their old data over to their new PC. Then there are those who know that their notebook isn't a safe place to store valuable or sensitive information, but would still like easy access to it when they get home. A home server fixes all of these problems straight away. You know where everything is, and you have easy access to it.

I can see a time coming where you have a server in your house, with the remaining computers running all of their applications from it. Such a solution might allow parents to better monitor their children's internet activity. With the coming of online movie rentals and purchases, I could see HDTVs and home theater systems interfacing with the server as well. Maybe Zune 3.0 will connect directly to the home server for synchronization, too. When you think about it, a home server just might be the best solution for all this DRM junk. The server can hold the content and the DRM-rights, and every device connected internally to this server would get easy access to the content. Don't we all just want to press play and know it will work?

If I had multiple PCs in the house, I would be pretty interested in this one. This is something that people will become interested in once they understand the benefits. It just might take several years to get there. It might also drive PC sales again, since it makes each terminal more replaceable. It's all got to start somewhere. Solutions like Apple TV aren't enough, IMO, since they don't do enough. A flexible server is by far a better idea. Obviously, security matters if this really takes off.

RE: I expect...
By bkm32 on 6/13/2007 11:44:47 AM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind, MS is responsible for making the PC easily accessible to the public. This means that most people who use a PC don't have to necessarily understand "what's going on", and they like it that way. The PC is now like a hammer--a tool anyone can use.

This new product is no different. In fact, it's good to see MS getting back to their roots--making difficult technology easily accessible. I just hope it has some type of Media Center features like, DVR capability, web TV-tuner capable, video streaming to extenders, even a nice home security and automation functionality (turning on the lights while away on vacation and such).

That's the stuff people really need made easy for their home network, which right now is a small market that someone will have to grow. Apple is trying with their AppleTV, Tivo, even AT&T. This is a new and exciting market that has DSL-like growth potential.

RE: I expect...
By walk2k on 6/13/2007 12:31:46 PM , Rating: 2
How is this any different than file sharing? Or WMP11 media server sharing?

I mean, XP/Vista already has "special folders" called "Music" and "Photos" and sharing them on a home network is as simple as right click -> Share this folder...

Maybe I'm missing something, but I see absolutely no use for this.

RE: I expect...
By deeznuts on 6/13/2007 1:30:32 PM , Rating: 2
You're missing a lot. Not just something. Why not read the article?

RE: I expect...
By cochy on 6/13/2007 1:30:49 PM , Rating: 2
What this article didn't mention is that Windows Home Server can also be used as a pretty advanced backup tool for home networks. Also they way the volume management is taken care of makes it very easy to add more storage to your shared volumes. It's not so easy to do that on Windows.

All in all I'll stick with Solaris and ZFS for my storage/sharing need =)

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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