Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

Summary: I'm about to install the final release of Windows Home Server 2011. Normally, I would just insert the DVD and follow the prompts. For some reason, I decided to read the release notes first. Thank goodness I did. You'll be surprised at what you need to do before you run setup.

SHARE:

Update 18-April: At long last, Microsoft has posted revised installation instructions for Windows Home Server 2011. The document contains a revision date of April 17, 2011 and no longer includes the odd instructions documented in this post, which were left over from the original beta documentation. In addition, a set of formal release notes for Windows Home Server 2011 is now available, documenting some more obscure issues that you might encounter. It also shows a revision date of April 17.

Update: Microsoft Program Manager Sean Daniel left a comment in the Talkbacks:

It seems that the documentation here is incorrect online and is a snap-shot of our first Beta documentation.

WHS 2011 will support a RAID configuration, WHS 2011 will support a mouse, monitor and keyboard (although this depends on your OEM license if you get your server via OEM), and it prompts you for your time similar to Windows 7 when you install the server that doesn't require you to change the time in the BIOS.

I'm about to install the final release of Windows Home Server 2011. I've been running the release candidate for a couple months with no issues, and I'm planning do a clean install, so I expect no problems. I've downloaded the installation image from TechNet, and under normal circumstances I would just start the installation and see where things go. But for some reason, just to be thorough, I decided this time to read the release notes first.

Thank goodness I was sitting down. I don't believe I have ever read instructions quite like those I found in Installing and Configuring Windows Home Server 2011. Follow along…

In a yellow box, under the bold heading Important, you'll find these instructions:

Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, set your BIOS clock to match the time and date for the Pacific Time Zone (PST) regardless of where you are located in the world. After successfully installing Windows Home Server 2011 and joining client computers, do not reset the time, date, and time zone on the Dashboard for another day.

If you do not set your server time to PST, you should not use the server or connect computers to it until the number of hours pass that equals the difference between your time and PST.

So, if you're in Australia and you forget this step, you need to let your new server sit for a full day before you do anything with it?

I had to look twice to make sure this wasn't an April Fool's joke. Nope, this document was updated March 30, 2011.

Most versions of Windows default to Redmond time, but this is the first time I've ever been told to change the time in the BIOS too, and to leave it that way while I connect clients. What happens if I don't? Unfortunately, the release notes don't say.

Are you planning to use a RAID array to work around the loss of Drive Extender? Think again. In a separate Troubleshooting document, this instruction is also in a yellow box under yet another bold Important heading:

Windows Home Server 2011 works best when each attached hard drive is accessed as an individual hard drive. Some computers and mainboards can be configured so that the hard drives are managed as RAID by the BIOS on the mainboard. For best results, you should turn off this configuration before installing Windows Home Server 2011.

Back to the installation instructions. I understand why it's necessary to disconnect any USB or FireWire hard disk drives. It makes sense to add external hard drives after setup is complete. But why this instruction?

After you finish configuring your server, shut down the computer; disconnect the keyboard, mouse, and monitor; and then restart the computer.

This one I actually grok. Windows Home Server is designed for headless operation. You're supposed to administer it remotely, using the dashboard from a connected client computer. But still…

You'll be doing administrative tasks from a web browser. If you're a Firefox user, pay attention:

If your web browser is Firefox, click F11 to ensure that the entire wizard page is visible on your monitor.

At least that one's documented.

And then finally, near the end of the instructions, this repeat of the opening theme:

The default time zone during Setup is Pacific Standard Time (PST). If your computer is configured to use another time zone, you need to change it back to the appropriate time zone after setup is complete and to ensure that the time is correct.

I am truly baffled that these oddball instructions made it into a shipping product. If anyone from the Windows Home Server team can help me understand what's going on here, please drop me a line.

See related coverage:

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

89 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Um meant for OEM pre-install only?

    I can't believe this. Were the PMs eaten by zombies? If I don't make this funny I can't fathom it at all.<br><br>Since I have a version 1.0 WHS, there is no reason for me to ever take that gear to WHS 2011. None. Nada. <br><br>I had enough fun explaining that my workgroup is not named WORKGROUP and my server is not named whatever (though a catchy name to consider). It took me a while to learn how to get a fixed IP address on the WHS, just like all my other machines (Duh, turn on router/gateway DHCP and authorize the address I want it to give any next request - no one else will ask. Then lock it in once I can Remote Console into the WHS at the fixed address.)<br><br>But this is just bad. <br><br>Maybe they looked at the Windows Server 2008 Use-By date and figured they'd better ship something quick?

    And what happened to headless install from a first-client. Aren't there more ways to get to start or is this not intended for individuals?

    So, how many single-points of failure can Microsoft cascade into a single next-version deployment? Who knows? Anyone? Bueller??
    orcmid
    • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

      @orcmid
      I'm Windows Home server user using the older version, OMG it work great! but I will be moving to MAC server when Lion comes out... sad MSFT!!!!!
      Hasam1991
      • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

        @Hasam1991
        I have to agree. This insanity reduced my faith in WHS2011 to zero. If they can't create an install that is free from these problems, what is the chance that the OS is free from problems? I won't be upgrading or buying a machine with it installed. Looks like my Mac might be getting a server software upgrade to replace my aging pair of WHS machines.

        Boooo Microsoft.
        BillDem
      • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

        @Hasam1991

        You appear to be a 'current' user of everyone else's hardware/software but defecting to Apple at every turn ... buying iPhone to replace an Andoid phone, replacing a Win 7 desktop with a MAC at the first opportunity, replacing a Win Home Server that "work great" with a MAC server as soon as the opportunity arises ....
        Hmmm ... I smell deceit
        noagenda
      • Another BS story from you - you're a fake

        @Hasam1991
        You love iPhone but owned 6 different droid phones, (from the model numbers you've posted), You own a WHS but will be moving to Lion, and have Windows7, but will be moving to OS X.

        I don't think anybody is taking you seriouslly, so why do you keep trying?
        Will Farrell
      • Master Joe Says...How?

        @Hasam1991 Nice try with the Apple shill. But, hwo exactly do you intend to do that? If I'm not mistake, did Apple not say that their OS X Server days are over?

        --Master Jeo
        SteelCityPC
      • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

        @MasterJoe

        OS X Server is now built into the consumer version of Lion.
        draymis
      • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

        @Hasam1991
        If you are moving to Mac, then realize it's not an acronym (re: MAC)
        brunerd
    • Sounds like Home Server is for IT Professionals .....

      @orcmid
      ....DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!

      LOL
      kd5auq
      • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

        @kd5auq
        GUYS! The only Android phone I had was the Samsung Galaxy S, it went on ebay yesterday and it sold for 225!! let me know if you want the link as proof. I am very happy back with iPhone... I use windows home server at home but I'm tired of the XP era stuff, it can't find hardware etc. it's time to move on, I was excited about the new WHS but with DE missing and all these new issues, is it worth it?
        Hasam1991
    • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

      "The default time zone during Setup is Pacific Standard Time (PST). If your computer is configured to use another time zone, you need to change it back to the appropriate time zone after setup is complete and to ensure that the time is correct."

      That has to be my favorite "Feature" of the software.
      Champ_Kind
      • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

        @Champ_Kind Doesn't it conflict with the first warning though?

        "After successfully installing Windows Home Server 2011 and joining client computers, do not reset the time, date, and time zone on the Dashboard for another day.

        If you do not set your server time to PST, you should not use the server or connect computers to it until the number of hours pass that equals the difference between your time and PST."

        It seems like you're being told to both change it and don't change it right away.
        jgm@...
    • Don't blame the problem on them (the WHS team)

      Since, I guess they are no more than a 5 or 6 engineers stuck in a room in the outskirts of the Microsoft Campus with no PM, no SA (Solution Architect), no SM (Solution Manager), or anybody else to babysit the product. <br><br>So, with nobody--outside the room--giving a d*mn about this fork of Windows Server 2008, I think this was the predictable thing to happen, when one of "the other guys" slipped a copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 "under the door" with a note saying "Deliver this before the end of the fiscal year"
      cosuna
      • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

        @cosuna I don't know if you are correct, of course, but boy does that have a ring of truth to it...
        oldgoat1957
    • Server OS??

      Seriously, use a server OS instead of a desktop that's been tweaked a little. There are good reasons why MS can't break into server markets.
      Regards from
      Tom :)
      Tom6
      • LOL!

        @Tom6
        [i]There are good reasons why MS can't break into server markets. [/i]
        :)
        Will Farrell
      • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

        @Tom6
        So..Microsoft hasn't broken into the server market yet? What rock have you been under?
        andrej770
      • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

        @Tom6 Microsoft can't break into the server market? Are you f-ing serious? That's gotta be a joke, right?
        Lamerz
    • RE: Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, RTFM (seriously)

      Good thing you actually read before installing it.

      <strong><a href="http://hlcgroup.net/areas-served/florida-2/jacksonville-florida">Mortgage Jacksonville FL</a></strong>
      <strong><a href="http://hlcgroup.net/areas-served/florida-2/jacksonville-florida">Mortgage Jacksonville Florida</a></strong>
      jessy.braun84
  • Um meant for OEM pre-install only?

    There's some sort of too-much-editing punishment I'm getting in trying to tidy up the above comment, so it gets reset to the original text, miswordings and all. So be it.

    Oh wait, the error was related to back-paging to the page from an older article linked here. NEVER MIND.
    orcmid