Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

Summary:At the end of January 10, 2011, the latest Windows Home Server 'Vail' public preview was slated to expire -- even though there was no replacement beta slated for another four to six weeks. But Microsoft has issued a last-minute expiry workaround, officials said today.

At the end of January 10, 2011, the latest Windows Home Server 'Vail' public preview was slated to expire -- even though there was no replacement beta slated for another four to six weeks. But Microsoft has issued a last-minute expiry workaround, officials said today.

The expiration didn't mean users would lose any data, but did mean users would have their servers auto-rebooted hourly because the beta period had ended. Officials still told testers if they had any :important data on your 'Vail' server, it is recommended that you migrate the data to another location."

Yes, it's true that the End User License Agreement (EULA) stated that this was a beta and was for testing purposes only, meaning Vail was not designed for use in a production environment. But the reason there was a gap in test builds was because Microsoft decided to shift direction and pull the Drive Extender technology from Vail at the end of last year, resulting in a need for a reset and change in product direction. (And leaving a very unhappy set of Vail customers and testers in the wake.)

Microsoft execs said they had no plans to issue a patch to tide over Vail testers -- who got the most recent beta bits back in August 2010 -- until the next beta arrived. But in an eleventh-hour reprieve, the Softies sent me an update, noting they've developed a workaround that will extend the expiry of the test build. Here's the latest info, from a company spokesperson:

"Today the WHS beta expires, and as such moves into Windows Server 2008 R2 Expiry mode (where the server will reboot hourly).  It is important to note that - No data is lost during an expiry, and users will still be able to access the server if needed to.

"The beta is built on an evaluation copy of Windows Server 2008 R2, where the eval expiry is hard coded during beta development (and as such cannot be easily changed).  However working with our engineering team, there is now a workaround using Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 RC.  This will extend the expiry to mid-March.

"To extend the expiry, please follow the directions below

1.    Install WS08 R2 SP1 RC on the server from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?familyId=c3202ce6-4056-4059-8a1b-3a9b77cdfdda&hash=2SduI20oa3rGcMvoU%2bPV1TVHUik%2f3CNeLRmMuOcJXzz13kgszkD2VWTIpb%2bAS0in9K12Sc14FpC3sdT4PNXCUw%3d%3d 2.    Logon on https://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer with your connect credentials 3.    Click on Product keys (in the left hand side column) 4.    Click on Request a new product key 5.    Click on Get Key 6.    In Windows Home Server, open a command prompt 7.    Type “slmgr.vbs -ipk ABCDE-FGHIJ-KLMNO-PQRST-UVWXY” (where ABCDE.. is your new key as requested above) 8.    Type “slmgr.vbs –ato” 9.    Reboot the server, and your beta timeframe has been extended.  You can check this by opening up a command prompt and typing winver

Vail, the next version of Windows Home Server, is due to ship in the first half of 2011.

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Servers, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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