Windows Home Server Beta/CTP preview

Windows Home Server Beta/CTP preview

Summary: A look at Windows Home Server Beta/CTP preview.

TOPICS: Windows

Yesterday Microsoft gave the green light for participants of the Windows Home Server Beta/CTP preview to discuss their thoughts and feelings about the software and to release screenshots.

I've put together a gallery of images relating to Windows Home Server installation and this is available here.

Thoughts ... Well, I'm pretty impressed with Windows Home Server.  PC enthusiasts will have to wait until late 2007 before they can get their hands on this, but judging from this beta, it looks like a robust enough product.  According to Microsoft Windows Home Server is 98% feature complete and it offers the home enthusiast a great platform for digital media sharing, remote access and PC backup.

As you can see from the images I've posted, Windows Home Server is based on Windows Server 2003 SP2, but the install process uses a Vista-style install process which is quite easy to use, although I did feel that I needed to reboot a lot (four or five times).

Topic: Windows

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  • but.... WHY??? what's the point?

    what can i do with this that i can't do with standard windows?
    Valis Keogh
    • Check out the file system

      Essentially, MS has made RAID 1 & 0 to be transparent and the WHS doesn't even need a motherboard that supports RAID. Any HD attached to the system can become part of the data pool allowing the user to see one large hard drive. You can even swap out drives safely (assuming that you have more than one in there).
      • i think you're talking about JBOD

        Just a bunch of disks, and any mobo and windows OS past 98 can do the same thing.

        it's typically not a good idea to run using the mobo raid anyway, raid cards are cheap if you're talking software raid.

        you can do raid 1 and 0 with any os past win98 also, so again, what's the point here?

        Valis Keogh
        • A lot of new functionality

          With the remote control feature and web access to files, it is very useful for people that have to travel a lot and somehow forgotten a file at home, or their spouse is having computer problems and needs help. Yes, anyone mirror the setup using hardware/software raid, but the sexy part of the server is new functionality, especially with people creating add-ons with the SDK that is available.

          Eric Fries
          • wow... that's the scariest thing i've ever heard.

            [i]With the remote control feature and web access to files, it is very useful for people that have to travel a lot and somehow forgotten a file at home[/i]

            wow. a consumer level product with open incoming access to a web interface giving access to files on the device.

            wow... that spells security nightmare.
            and for the spouse needing help, that's what VNC and phones are for. actually, whenenver my spouse had problems it was usually something bordering in catastrophic and required a complete unplugging of everything and leaving it alone until i got home...

            next answer please
            Valis Keogh
          • You've missed the point

            This is not a solution for the tech minded. Yes we know how to setup our own RAID 0/1 solutions on the Mobo, on a card or using any OS after Win98, but this is for my sister or mother who are beginning to assemble quite a few media files from birthday videos and pictures and downloaded songs. Also, this isn't Windows OS RAID, you can add external USB drives. Another attractive feature is the headless part. You don't keep monitors, keyboards and mouse attached except during setup. This is being offered as an OEM solution and for do it yourself types. So my Mom goes and buys a WHS at BestBuy takes it home and plugs it in to the network and power, runs the client CD on her PC and now she has automated backups with file level restore, she can add drives as she needs to without opening the case or some complex RAID setup and she can access those files from any PC that has access to her network. The scary thing is if she doesn't have a secure network.

            next question please
        • Not JBOD

          I beg to differ: not any Windows OS past 98 can do this. This is closer to the ZFS that was described on a ZDNet blog a few days ago. Under Windows 98/2000/etc., when you plug in a new drive, it comes up as a new drive letter. Under WHS, when you plug in a new drive, the space gets added to the storage pool. It's not striping or mirroring. If you have more than one drive in your system, you can mark folders to be duplicated. It may not be as refined as what you can get with RAID5; in fact it's a little "brute force", but it works quickly and EASILY.
  • WHS

    I have been using this product for a month or so, and I love it. I had setup a file server with Ubuntu Server to share my music etc.... WHS makes it a point a click operation. Very cool. I've been suckered in. I will probably go buy this OS as soon as it becomes available. This is one of the best product MS has released in years (if not ever).

    Even if you are not a Windows guy, you have to appreciate the philosophy behind the designers here. Check out their blog and look back to the posts about their design philosophies. Very intelligent approach.
  • Why? and Who Cares?

    You ask, "Why?". I ask, "Who Cares?" What nonsense. What ever happened to Microsoft PWS? The Personal Web Server. Now this was useful! So what do they do? Disable it's use! Now you can't use it any longer! So what do we have now? Home Server? Who cares????????????????????
    • What itn the world are you talking about?

      IIS comes with Windows XP and you can set up web servers till you fall over.
      • You're assuming Professional, however.

        Not for XP Home.
        Grayson Peddie
  • Not worth it!

    This is a silly attempt to make money by MS. No one is going to purchase this thing. Especially since the price will more than likely be astromical just like everything else by MS.
    • Yeah, and no one will buy Windows, or Office,

      yada yada yada... Are you really this clueless or is it that zealots simply have no base in reality?
    • Have you tried it?

      Perhaps you should reserve judgement until you do. I've tried it. It does for me what I know I should but rarely do until it's too late -- back up the hard drive. On each of my four laptops. Automatically. Without me having to do anything. Really.
  • More than Media Server folks.

    Yes, serving media is ONE of the things it can do, but that is just the beginning. I work in autmation (factory) systems and I can tell you our company has already begun working on extensions to WHS for home automation.

    Does that mean the average apartment dweller will jump on board, probably not, at least for awhile, but the possiblilities for its use in large homes or farming is endless. I can EASILY see it paying for itself in a year or less.
  • Home Server

    This was exactly what I was looking for!

    I (am-was-kind of) a participate in the Windows Home Server beta program.

    There are three main goals of this operating system (as I see it).

    1. It will automatically back up all computers that are on your home network.

    2. It will act as a media (or file) server for any of your home computers.

    3. It is considered a "headless" unit. In other words, once you have the operating system set up and running, you can (should) disconnect your monitor and keyboard. It is meant to be run from any other computer on your network (inside or outside the home).

    The main problem I have with this is that when you install this operating system, it needs to create it's own pool of hard drive space. will format any current hard drives that are in the system you are setting up. (The whole point of creating it's own pool of drives is that, as mentioned earlier, the system acts as a "raid" setup. If a drive goes bad in this system, you can "hot swap" a new drive) The problem is, the media server I have set up now has 2.5 TERRABYTES. I have no place to back this up so that I can install Windows Home Server.

    The idea is IMHO great. Still needs some work though.
    • The design is for OEM solutions

      Remember that the idea is that Mom is going to buy this as an OEM solution and then backup her files up to it. Us tech guys and gals are going to have to move some files around to build our own. I have a 1.5TB setup with my MediaCenter PC and it took awhile to get the drives cleaned off so I could move it in to WHS but I also could have bought a couple of 750GB drives and been there without spending as much as I would on the entire OEM solution considering I have this running on an 4 year hold Pentium 4 1.8 with 1GB RAM. Besides are you telling me that you have 2.5TB and you have no backup/restore solution. Are you only relying on HDD redundancy only? Shame on you if you are!
  • WHS is aimed at regular home PC users

    Windows Home Server is very impressive for regular PC users; however,it will leave more advanced operators wanting more flexibility. I've been hearing rumors that this OS will be offered for under $200.00. If this is accurate I can honestly say that it's a great value considering its ease of use and feature-full capabilities.

    The advertising and catch phrases are just that. They are accurate, but confusing to some. At the core this Operating System is based on Windows Server 2003 R2. It installs with very few configuration options. When the long process is complete users will have a file server, a web server, media sharing rights, remote control of your PCs through your website, and access to your files through your website.

    The backup and management options are accessed through a separate program that is installed on every computer in the house. With this client-side application you will be able to change file sharing options and check the status of every computer's backups. I believe the WHS Suite falls short a bit here. The client program wants to backup your PC every other day and is quite annoying if you don't initiate it. It works silently if your home PC is on 24/7 and can wake-on-LAN.

    In closing, I believe WHS is an amazing suite for modern home networks. It's nice to look at, not too heavy for average computers, and offers what every powerful network should...a file server, a web server, and access to your files from anywhere. In it's present form my one and only complaint is that its backup behavior should have more management flexibility. Kudos to MS if this is really under 200.00.
  • Will it allow you to connect to other devices like TiVos and DVRs?

    If it would allow you to operate or at least access program content on DVRs from other manufacturers perhaps it would make sense as a product but just as a file server? I'd prefer to not pay $200 for a limited feature software package and just buy an appliance device that would also allow media access to and from anything in the house.

    File services on a Linux box is more complicated for the basic user but using an old PC running Win 2K or XP is just as easy as buying yet another "new" Win package. Backups of Raid 0 and 1 arrays is practically useless if the media for the backup remains ATA or SATA drives. You're just putting off the inevitable catastrophic drive failure that WILL eventually occur. The Carnegie Mellon and Google long term hard drive studies tell us that.