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HP's MediaSmart Home Server  (Source: Hewlet-Packard)

Iomega HomeCenter Server  (Source: Iomega)
Microsoft's Windows Home Server hardware products are finally ready for prime time

It's been nearly a year since Microsoft first announced its Windows Home Server platform, but we are now just starting to see the fruits of Microsoft's (and its hardware partners') labors.

Microsoft is aiming to make digital media sharing, automated network PC backups and anywhere access to network files a possibility with Windows Home Server. The platform, which is built in Windows Server 2003 technology, is robust, yet easy enough for consumers to jump right in and feel at home.

Likewise, third-party software companies have the ability to create plug-ins for power users that wish to use the Windows Home Server to the fullest extent. According to Microsoft, 35 plug-ins are already available for the platform which touches on blogging, home security and home automation among other things.

The actual Windows Home Server OEM software has been available for a little over a month now, but Microsoft and its launch partners are finally ready to break out the details on the hardware products.

HP's MediaSmart Server is the headliner product for Windows Home Server. As detailed in an earlier DailyTech story, the MediaSmart Home Server is available in two versions: the $599, 500GB EX470 and the $749, 1TB EX475. Both are based on the AMD LIVE! Home Media Server solution.

"We are excited to work with industry leaders HP and Microsoft to help pioneer a new class of user-friendly consumer electronics for home networking," said Bob Brewer, corporate VP of marketing and strategy for the AMD Computing Solutions Group. "The AMD LIVE! solution was designed to simplify and enhance digital entertainment experiences, and helping consumers protect their valuable digital memories is a vital aspect of that vision."

"As more and more entertainment content goes digital, people increasingly want a simple way to access, store and enjoy the wide range of photos, personal videos, music and films they enjoy at home," continued HP Managed Home Business senior VP John Orcutt.

HP, however, isn't the only company championing the Windows Home Server platform. Storage company Iomega is onboard with its 500GB Iomega HomeCenter Server which is scheduled to ship in early 2008. Fujitsu Siemens will offer its 1TB SCALEO Home Server 1900 in late 2007 and other solutions are on the way from Life|ware, MAXDATA, Medion, Tranquil and Velocity Micro.

"Digital devices and content are everywhere in our day-to-day lives and they are more important all the time," said Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. "With the launch of Windows Home Server, Microsoft and its partners are creating a new consumer product category that will help people keep their digital media safe and make it easier for them to enjoy it with friends and family."



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i have a bad feeling about this
By RamarC on 11/5/2007 9:41:36 AM , Rating: -1
i know home server is supposed to be built on a locked-down version of win2k3 server, but i just don't see how ms can deliver an internet facing product that is "secure" and at the same time "easy-to-use". i think anyone who buys the marketing hype and thinks this will be as easy-to-use and secure as their router is going to be in for lots of big surprises.




RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By SavagePotato on 11/5/2007 9:49:20 AM , Rating: 2
Being a router realy doesn't require you to do anything to make it secure it could be difficult. Microsoft thinks that Windows firewall is a good solution though so it wouldn't be the first time they were wrong about security.

Still that being said how secure does it have to be? It is for home use, who is out there to hack into Jim Smiths battlestar galactiaca torrents stored on his home file server. It isn't an enterprise product after all.

I am not that educated on the product yet but It wouldn't preclude the use of a hardware firewall box if someone so desired would it?


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By wordsworm on 11/5/2007 10:43:46 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Jim Smiths battlestar galactiaca torrents stored on his home file server
I think you just answered your own question. I forget the name of the lady, but DT recently did a story on someone getting sued by RIAA over torrents. Now, there could be a whole world of difference between someone inadvertently sharing and this woman (whom I'm sure was aware of what she was doing). Nonetheless, the unwitting could easily become a victim to litigation regardless of their intent.

Also, I can't help but wonder if RIAA would suggest that even on a home server whether or not that itself would be legal.


By afkrotch on 11/6/2007 1:17:34 PM , Rating: 2
You can't use illegally obtained evidence in a lawsuit. If RIAA started hacking into ppl's home servers, they'd have a whole lot more to worry about then whether Jim Smith had torrents on his machine.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By stash on 11/5/2007 9:51:55 AM , Rating: 3
It's designed to sit behind your router, not replace it. It can configure your router using UPnP.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By RamarC on 11/5/2007 10:11:12 AM , Rating: 2
i know it doesn't replace the router, but lots of folks don't even setup their router properly. that's why i'm questioning it security and ease-of-use.

the home sever's web server is internet facing. it also has an rdp gateway that can give remote desktop access to your pcs. for someone who doesn't know what they're doing, granting web access and rdp access can open up a huge can of worms in their home network.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By TomZ on 11/5/2007 10:16:08 AM , Rating: 5
The server is based on IIS6 which has historically been pretty secure. In addition, there are tons of IIS6-based web sites on the Internet. (I would guess that DT is one of them.)


By omnicronx on 11/5/2007 11:50:36 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
but lots of folks don't even setup their router properly
And this has to do with home server how? If you did not set up your router correctly, then you would have the same security issues without home server.
quote:
for someone who doesn't know what they're doing, granting web access and rdp access can open up a huge can of worms in their home network.
Pick one, either they setup their router with security or they didn't. Someone who does not know how to setup a router, also does not know how to forward ports or set their server to DMZ host. Thus there would be no external remote desktop, or httpd access.

Windows home server is suppose to work behind the router, and is not really a gateway, unless you specifically set it up that way.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By SavagePotato on 11/5/2007 12:22:51 PM , Rating: 2
I work for an ISP, we have customers that don't know they have a router, or even forget they have a router much less know what it is, or how to configure it.

Chances are however someone of that technical proficiency isn't going to be tackling the idea of having their own file server.

Again for someone that doesn't know what their doing, setting up web access to their network probably isn't going to happen anyway.


By Screwballl on 11/5/2007 1:05:39 PM , Rating: 2
I work for an ISP and I know exactly how that is... this is a product I believe most of them will not typically use.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By djc208 on 11/5/2007 10:23:11 AM , Rating: 2
Most of the stuff I've read doesn't imply this is supposed to replace your router, it's just going to be plugged into it. It would sit behind the router firewall but can be accessed from outside (with the right router setup or a uPnP router) if you wish. If you don't want/need access from outside your network then make sure the ports are blocked in the router and you should be fine.

I'm sure there are probably holes but that's what the patches and add-on products are for. How long until Norton has a WHS version (if they don't already).

I'm seriously thinking about building one with some old hardware I have around and some new hard drives. Only problem is the $190 price for the software. Kind of steep for such a limited OS.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By Talcite on 11/5/2007 10:37:43 AM , Rating: 1
You could just save yourself $190 and install linux on it. You have more functionality through linux than you'll have with this WHS. It's also more secure if you set it up properly and again... it's hard to compete with free.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By TomZ on 11/5/2007 10:43:26 AM , Rating: 3
WHS has a lot of functionality that Linux lacks. In addition, WHS is a lot easier for non-tech people to set up. I suggest you educate yourself about WHS before posting uninformed comments here.


By omnicronx on 11/5/2007 12:10:11 PM , Rating: 2
Don't kid yourself, the common user can maybe cope with using linux out of the box, to surf the net and maybe listen to music. But to expect the majority of the population to be able to figure out and configure a server with the same specifications as WHS would result in mass suicides worldwide.

I love nix, I use ubuntu myself, but for anything else than day to day activities linux is not an option for most people.

My parents and sister have already figured out WHS, and thats a miracle in itself.

P.S You would be hard pressed to find a remote desktop tool and remote backup gui like WHS has in linux. I don't think apps like this exist, nor will they in the near feature.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By Screwballl on 11/5/2007 11:47:13 AM , Rating: 2
after beta testing it myself for a few months, it is simply a MS front end to a "backup" or "storage" system. You can get a NAS that can do pretty much most of the same things as this can for much less electricity cost to you.
It does have some nice features so it is a matter of buying the OEM from newegg to use on your own box or buy a NAS... pretty much both for around the same price (depending on size of the NAS storage).


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By TomZ on 11/5/2007 12:28:07 PM , Rating: 4
You're comparing apples and oranges there. What NAS allows you to access your files remotely from the Internet? Or to do RDC to any of your networked PCs? Or to easily add/remove drives and freely select certain folders for mirroring? None that I'm aware of.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By Screwballl on 11/5/2007 1:09:31 PM , Rating: 2
You can setup your NAS to do anything that WHS can do. May take an extra program but it can be done. WHS just streamlines this process into one box and one program.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By Oregonian2 on 11/5/2007 1:16:28 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
WHS just streamlines this process into one box and one program.


Yup. I think that's the whole point of the product.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By Screwballl on 11/5/2007 1:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
would you rather have a 10W NAS running 24/7 or a full system running at 200W+ 24/7???
Depends on your usage.


By obeseotron on 11/7/2007 8:58:54 PM , Rating: 2
You are crazy. A NAS might take less juice but those numbers are just nuts. The difference in power use is probably more like 25W, not 200W. The NAS still has to power the drives and most of the 4 drive ones have a full fledged CPU. And FYI, a modern middle of the road PC draws around 70W at idle and 125W at load, and these WHS boxes probably take less.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By TomZ on 11/5/2007 1:18:39 PM , Rating: 2
How does the cost of WHS compare to your NAS + extra server box to run these "extra programs" (plus the cost of the programs, if they are commercial)?

Also, which is going to be easier to set up and maintain?

Answer these and you're starting to "get" WHS.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By Screwballl on 11/5/2007 2:26:18 PM , Rating: 2
if you have an NAS, there is no need for an external storage "system" unless you choose to use it for something else (unless I misunderstood your comment)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
500GB storage via network for US$202.49

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8601...
500GB HP MediaSmart system for $600

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
WHS OS only for $180

My perspective:
This is all based on your usage. For most people, a NAS will work fine. WHS has a specific target consumer group where the NAS may not always be adequate.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By TomZ on 11/5/2007 3:37:13 PM , Rating: 3
Try to use your imagination a little and think beyond the simple use case you're focused on. Believe it or not, there are lots of people who are interested in going beyond the "drive on the network" usage.

For example, consider the typical family that has a digital camera and wants to share their photos with family and friends. With WHS, they could easily share them from the original storage location on their own server, without having to upload them to some third-party site.


By GreenEnvt on 11/6/2007 9:49:03 AM , Rating: 2
Really, my nas can give me a nice interface like the free Webguide plugin for WHS, that lets me watch all my recorded TV from my media center, watch live TV, stream music and videos, set up programs to record, etc?
It can also host any website I want, like wordpress for a blog?

Sorry, WHS offers simplicity, and being a Windows 2003 box allows for massive opportunities of adding in components.

Also, how many NAS's out there will allow you to combine a 250gig IDE drive, a 500GB sata drive, and a 32gb SCSI drive into one pool of space. And yes that pool of space is able to be replicated to more then one drive incase of failure.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By afkrotch on 11/6/2007 1:41:17 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.buffalotech.com/products/network-storag...

This does it all, cept the mirroring part. Course just add another LinkStation Live to your network and have it automatically mirror the other one.

For the cost of around $550 for the 1TB, I know which one I'd put my money into. Even the 500GB only costs around $280. Not to mention uses less power and takes up less space. It's also easier to have on the go. Going to a lan party with no internet connection? Take the NAS with you.

http://www.buffalotech.com/products/network-storag...

The Terastation Live does much the same stuff, but adds in RAID functionality. What's better than fake RAID? Real RAID.


RE: i have a bad feeling about this
By TomZ on 11/6/2007 3:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This does it all, cept the mirroring part.

It doesn't do everything WHS does - it has no bare metal workstation backup/restore, it doesn't let you easily integrate more drives, it doesn't give you Internet-side RDP access to your workstations, it doesn't monitor the health/patch state of your workstations.

quote:
The Terastation Live does much the same stuff, but adds in RAID functionality. What's better than fake RAID? Real RAID.

No, not really. What is nice about WHS is that it is much more flexible (you can pick and choose which files to mirror), more dynamic (you can painlessly add new drives as you need them, enable/disable mirroring on the fly), and doesn't require same size drives as RAID does. RAID has its place, but I think the WHS solution is better for the intended market - home and small office users.

But all that said, the Buffalo product does look pretty good for what it is and its price point.


By afkrotch on 11/6/2007 6:23:53 PM , Rating: 2
Buffalo throws in a backup/restore software for the NAS. You can setup your desktops to backup whatever to the NAS at specific times. You can integrate more drives via external USB. Or simply add more NAS to your network.

It allows you have internet access to your storage and that's the main purpose of a NAS. The storage. Any other remote access I need, I can just use VNC. Why would I want to go through a whole different system, to eventually get to my home machine? Not to mention VNC isn't locked down to XP Pro with SP2, XP Media Center 2005, XP Tablet with SP2, Vista Ultimate, Vista Business, or Vista Enterprise. Seeing as it's Windows Home Server, how many ppl aren't running Windows XP Home or Vista Home? I run Win2k Pro, WinXP Pro, and Vista Home Premium. That would leave 2 of my boxes unreachable.

Flexible. With the NAS, you can leave it un-RAIDed and simply copy the files to another hdd. Reading a little about Memeo (Buffalo's auto backup software), it'll allow you to do the same things as WHS for backup/mirror/etc, cept it allows you to backup to more than just your NAS, but to a variety of devices. Let's you backup files to external hdds, usb flash drives, ipods, networked computers, NAS, ftp servers, memeo internet disk, and other devices.

Dynamic. You can add usb external drives to the NAS. With the Terastation Live, you can easily add drives into the enclosure or plug in some usb external drives. Use the Memeo to set it to backup to the new drives or whatever. Leave it un-RAIDed and no problems.


"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer














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