Microsoft's biggest lemon - Windows Home Server

Microsoft's biggest lemon - Windows Home Server

Summary: I'm really surprised that Windows Vista gets as much bad press as it does when Microsoft has an operating system that's worse. Much worse. I am of course talking about Windows Home Server.

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I'm really surprised that Windows Vista gets as much bad press as it does when Microsoft has an operating system that's worse.  Much worse.  I am of course talking about Windows Home Server.

MicrosoftÂ’s biggest lemon - Windows Home ServerWindows Home Server is bad in a way that you just don't want your OS to be.  We're not talking about poor performance or dropping a few FPS in your favorite game.  Windows Home Server has the capacity to hose your data.  For an OS, that's bad, but for a filer server OS, that's a disaster.

Windows Home Server was released July 2007 to, well, little fanfare.  After all, it is a file server OS aimed at the consumer market, and most home users need a $150 file server OS about as much as an alligator needs an iPod.  But for people who decided that a file server was what they needed for backup (rather than something simpler and less hassle, such as a NAS box or an external hard drive) there was a product aimed at them.

But then in December 2007 a problem surfaced.  It seemed that under certain circumstances data stored on a Windows Home Server box could become corrupted.  This data corruption occurs in a small number of cases where the server was fitted with more than one hard drive and data is accessed using one of the following applications:

  • Windows Vista Photo Gallery 
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery 
  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 
  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 
  • Microsoft Money 2007 
  • SyncToy 2.0 Beta 
  • Intuit QuickBooks
  • uTorrent

Now Microsoft claims that this problem only affects a small number of users, but since there has been very little guidance given by Microsoft, if I were a Windows Home Server users, I'd have wiped the box and installed something more reliable on it.  Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Linux ... Windows Me ...

Now, I know that it's not a good idea to access files on a server directly, remember that this product is aimed at the consumer market - folks who don't know how to make best use of a server.  But experience doesn't guarantee that you're safe - Microsoft technology evangelist Volker Will lost a considerable amount of data to Microsoft Home Server.  Same problem?  Hard to tell, but losing 180GB of data on a file server is no laughing matter and really shouldn't be easy.  The conclusion says it all really:

I might wait until version 2.0, if I ever decide to install it again. The current piece will be permanently banned from our home by the weekend. Sorry folks, I think it is a GREAT idea, this implementation is just not ready for prime time.

BTW, thanks to Home Server my wife stopped talking to me as she is now really mad at me. Not only are some of our pictures gone, I spent countless hours in my room figuring out what the hell is wrong instead of with the family.

OK, so where's the fix?  Well, if you've got a Windows Home Server box mothballed because you're concerned about data integrity, it'll be offline for the near future.  According to a blog post by the Windows Home Server team the current estimate for the release of a patch is June 2008 - nearly a year after Windows Home Server was released.

From the outside looking in, some people would say “Why is this taking so long?” Fixing this issue is the Windows Home Server team’s top priority and the team is making good progress on the fix.  We understand the issue really well at this point - it is at an extremely low level of the operating system and it requires thorough testing to ensure that the fix addresses the issue.  We have coded a part of the fix which is currently being tested internally.  Internal testing is expected to continue for at least several more weeks. 

Once the patch has passed internal quality bars, external participants will be asked to help test the fix.  Our current plan is to release beta test versions of a fix over the next few months, with a final version currently estimated for June 2008, although that date could change as testing progresses.  Thorough testing of the fix is critical and will take time.   

I agree, a patch needs thorough testing, but there's no excuse for releasing a file server OS containing such a critical flaw, and there's no excuse for a fix to take so long, leaving users in the lurch in the interim.

Until this bug is squashed I really can't recommend Windows Home Server to anyone - Microsoft's knowledge base article just doesn't give enough specifics for me to trust my data to this OS.

Thoughts?

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

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103 comments
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  • Where's No_Ax On This?

    As I recall, he was bashing anyone who said anything negative about WHS on here, and I was one of the biggest critics of it, saying you could do the same thing with Linux...

    I guess he's silent as usual.
    itanalyst2@...
    • So he is your opposite?

      as you bash anything Microsoft, good or bad.

      But then I guess when you remain silent on the negative stories about Linux, well I guess he gets to do the same thing here.
      John Zern
    • Dude, you need help.

      Seriously. Letting someone p!$$ you off that bad and get under your skin like that isn't good for your health.

      Take a vacation, go visit one of Eliot Spitzer's favorite girls, see a shrink.... something. Otherwise you're stroke-bound.
      Hallowed are the Ori
    • classy

      This is one of the most classic examples of forum trolling I've ever seen. Wanna add a line about how he kicks puppies while your at it?
      Hogleg
    • Hey while I was out and about...

      I ran into a Linux Site that was taling about it's decrepid C code and the mess it is. No wonder the OS looks so 1990...

      As far as the Windows Home Server goes, yup it's a peice of crap. Bad idea from the start and now the public is figuring it all out.

      As Linux becomes more popular, you know somewhere around 5% of the PC market, and it isn't there yet, but maybe in 3 to 5 years, we'll all be reading about the POS operating system and all of it's flaws too. Besides, OS by obscurity doesn't make it the best, no sir, far from that.

      So, when that does, and it WILL happen, you'll be as quiet as a dead church mouse?
      Kromaethius
  • There is something to be said...

    for the open source way in all of this. Bug fixes and patches usually come in days/weeks vice months/years...

    Why is it the biggest software company in the world with paid employees cannot beat out the open source community in timeliness of fixes? I believe its because to one group - it's just a 9-5 job w/benefits. To the other, it's a labor of love and devotion. The quality of the workmanship and care usually shows more for those who love what they are doing....
    jparrott@...
    • Not sure if that the same thing, It's even insulting

      as if all programmers worked for free, Microsoft (or any company) would be able to have as many people on the issue as they wanted.

      To claim that to paid programmers - "it's just a 9-5 job w/benefits" is an insult to programmers. People get into their line of work becuase they like what they do, the fact that they have families to support doesn't change how they feel about it.

      Besides, how many programmers do you know that axtually leave their work at the office?
      John Zern
      • There are two types of programmer....

        ... there's the "I *love* programming and computing" type and there is the 9-5 wage slave who is competent but unlikely to push the boundaries back. They can both be found in any company and I have worked with a mixture of both. The first lot are enthusiastic and eat, drink and sleep IT. The "9-5" bunch can do programming but aren't particularly bothered and leave their work on their desk at 5pm.

        Open source is unlikely to attract the "9-5" type. If I had to sum it up in one sentence [i]"Some live to program, the others program to live"[/i].
        bportlock
        • Some live to program...

          The problem here is that those who "live to program" use the computer AS a project. The masses want to use their computers FOR a project. The "live to program" group wants to display their expertise with big words and three letter abbreviations along with complicated procedures that the ordinary user doesn't want/isn't able to follow.
          john3347
      • Leave their work at the office???

        I would be interested in knowing realistically how many bring their home hobbies to work with them!
        john3347
    • You obviously haven't used Open Source

      Or maybe you just fiddled with the slow dog Open Office and thought it wasn't too bad. In reality, most of open source is rubbish. That labour of love and devotion crap wears off real fast when a programmer has to work for nothing for a lot of whiny compainers.

      In reality, open source suffers from bad coding, manuals and documentation that may as well be encrypted and each version is usually guaranteed to break the last. How do I know? Well I actually use and modify open source adn that's definitely been my experience. For every application jewel that appears, there are thousands of dross.

      Yes open source can turn out polished code occasionally (or at least for this version with these programmers) but it's not the rule and certainly not common practice.

      In the end love may keep you warm, but it doesn't pay the bills...
      tonymcs@...
      • You obviously haven't used Open Source

        Pot Kettle Black - rearrange as appropriate
        deaf_e_kate
      • Scratch an itch programming

        Open source is generally coded to 'scratch' a particular
        programmer's 'itch' and no farther.
        frgough
        • Ridiculous (NT)

          .
          none none
      • open source suffers?

        I see no suffering by open source. As a matter of fact, it's improving and becoming more robust and popular ten times as fast as Microsoft's "offerings"

        I presently use open source, and have not had a crash or data loss since I started using it over a year ago (and haven't had to mortgage the farm to get the fifteen or so distros I've taken for a ride, either). How many Windoze users can (honestly) say that?

        I suppose you consider Visduh a rip-roaring success? And what did it cost the "users" to find out? And WHS is a gonna-be success (as soon as they get the bugs worked out) I suppose?

        If I were flying the Microsoft flag (as you obviously are), I certainly wouldn't be hitting on open source, right about now. Aren't they (Microsoft) preaching "interoperation" with open source now? I thought so!
        Ole Man
      • Re: You obviously haven't used Open Source

        [i]In reality, most of open source is rubbish. ... How do I know? Well I actually use and modify open source adn that's definitely been my experience.[/i]

        There are a lot of Windows users who think Windows is rubbish but it's almost understandable as Windows is the default OS. I just figure they haven't got off their duffs and would rather complain. But one has to go out of one's way to use open source.

        You're certainly entitled to your opinion but if it's rubbish why do you go out of your way to use it?


        BTW I use Linux and Windows and I don't think open source is rubbish at all. That's been my experience.





        :)
        none none
      • You obviously haven't used Microsoft Products

        "Or maybe you just fiddled with the slow dog Office 2007 and thought it wasn't too bad. In reality, most of proprietary software is rubbish. That Microsoft certified crap wears off real fast when a programmer has to work for nothing for a lot of whiny compainers.

        In reality, Microsoft products suffer from bad coding, manuals and documentation that may as well be encrypted and each version is usually guaranteed to break the last. How do I know? Well I'm actually an MCSE and that's definitely been my experience. For every application jewel that appears, there are thousands of dross, and virii, and worms, and undocumented vulnerabilities, and now data corruption.

        Yes closed source can turn out polished code occasionally (lets pretend MS home server doesn't exist just to help me out here)."



        Fixed it ;-)
        Sysadm1n
        • word to the wise.

          never admit your "an MCSE" in public.

          Even if you'd score 100% on all your "exams", you'd still know JackSh*t about programming.

          If you think vulnerabilities, bug and data corruption are an MS exclusive, you've got a lot to learn about your personal confuser.
          rtk
          • word to the wise

            "never admit your "an MCSE" in public"

            The burnt remains of that seven year-old certificate might still be around my yard, if you want to go look for them ;-).


            "If you think vulnerabilities, bug and data corruption are an MS exclusive, you've got a lot to learn about your personal confuser."

            But when it comes to hiding bugs, refusing to acknowledge vulnerabilities, and epically failing to patch data corruption problems...Microsoft will always be king ;-).
            Sysadm1n
      • There are bad coders on all sides

        it's just less vocal users who are willing to prop up their side in order to win a fight.

        OSS clearly wins on openness and the ability, maybe not the want, of someone to clean up the code.

        Proprietary and closed believes it wins on security through obscurity, but with coders cranking out of momma's to the point that we have as many as we have lovely lawyers, you can't hide code that someone really wants to crack.

        And there are thousands of bad coding projects made for each OS platform . . . . except maybe OS/2 (its dead and supposedly buried in the backyard).
        Boot_Agnostic