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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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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
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)
500GB storage via network for US$202.49
500GB HP MediaSmart system for $600
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

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.

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
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.

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.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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