Windows Home Server: What's inside?

Summary:The Windows Home Server cat is finally out of the bag. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates officially announced the existence of the Windows Home Server at his January 7 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kick-off keynote. But the real details on the new systems didn't come from Gates, Microsoft or HP.

The Windows Home Server cat is finally out of the bag. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates officially announced the existence of the Windows Home Server at his January 7 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kick-off keynote.

During his remarks, Gates offered almost no details about the forthcoming systems, other than to note that the first model will be from Hewlett Packard and be known as the HP MediaSmart Server and will ship in the second half of 2007. So far, there doesn't seem to be a publicly available datasheet from Microsoft or HP on the software or hardware behind the new systems.

Gates outlined in a very general way some of the features that will be part of the expected Home Server systems. They will provide automated backup; secure connectivity among multiple PCs, Zunes, Xboxes and other devices; and terabytes of pluggable storage. Some models will be Intel-based; others will run on AMD processors.

Fortunately, Inside Microsoft blogger Nathan Weinberg offered lots of other details that he said were "100 percent confirmed." (By Microsoft? by HP? By some other entity/entities? Not clear.) Regardless of the source(s), Weinberg's information sure looks authentic.

Here's what Weinberg is reporting about Windows Home Server:

* Home Server streams to the Xbox 360 and other Media Center Extenders

* It backs up to internal and external hard drives the entire contents of every PC daily -- and not once, but twice, letting you restore files or entire PCs immediately. It also stores multiple versions of files

* Home Server will be sold in two forms, just like Windows XP Media Center used to be: As a full hardware/software package by manufacturers, and as a software package to system builders

* Beta 2 of Home Server will arrive in just two weeks, on January 22. Pre-Beta 1 was reached last July. They are also projecting Release Candidate status by May 15 and the final Release To Manufacturing on June 22

Weinberg has tons of additional details. So go read his full post.

Additional information: Charlie Kindel, a member of the Windows Home Server team, blogged that his team had been working on the Windows Home Server product for three years. Kindel posted an interesting photo of a very compact Windows Home Server prototype, as well.

Even more info: MSTechToday's Brandon LeBlanc finds the data sheet for Home Server

My biggest question: How does Windows Home Server compete (or cooperate with) Windows LiveDrive, Microsoft's forthcoming virtual-storage service, not to mention the already shipping Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft's all-in-one anti-malware/backup and restore service?

LeBlanc may have discovered at least part of the answer to how Home Server meshes with Windows Live. 

Topics: Servers

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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