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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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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.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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