Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

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.

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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 has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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20 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

    Why is MS wasting their time with vail? Without DE it is already a flop.
    mike2k
    • Really? I have yet to see the same options elsewhere

      @mike2k

      There's DLNA support, similar to other systems, but tying it together with a DDNS service, automatic backup of PC's, simple emergency restore options, PC health monitoring, server backup, and Remote Desktop Gateway support. Show me another platform that offers all of that. And show me one that's as easy to set up, and for as little money. There isn't one.
      Joe_Raby
      • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

        Amahi is one.
        choyongpil
      • Amahi easy?

        Don't make me laugh.

        Their storage pooling system is unproven. It's not out of beta, and they even state not to use it with valuable data. Nice!

        VPN is also horribly slow and SSL is more secure. You also need an OpenVPN client installed on each PC which is an additional attack vector. Their Wiki article on the subject provides a good idea of how unready it is: http://wiki.amahi.org/index.php/Remote_Access
        Joe_Raby
      • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

        @Joe_Raby <br>You sound like someone with a closed mine, there are alternatives to Vail beta. OpenVPN runs just fine, lets all just stop using any VPN then.
        choyongpil
      • Provide real alternatives then

        I have an open mind. You just haven't provided any real alternatives to Windows Home Server with the criteria that I mentioned. Do you work for Google's legal team in the case vs. the DOI? They did the same thing - bellyache (then litigate) because, as a company, they couldn't meet the criteria for the DOI's requirements.

        Oh, and yes, there are far better options than VPN. SSL-over-HTTP is more secure and easier to implement. It also costs less, which is why a lot of companies are migrating applications to a web browser.
        Joe_Raby
      • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

        @Mr. Raby Why? <br>You have already built a wall around Vail. Who I work for is none of your business. I am glad that you are concerned that Google should be treated fairly. When Vail finally comes out of beta and all the bugs are fixed, I might look at.
        choyongpil
      • I haven't built a wall around Vail

        It's own features did.
        Joe_Raby
      • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

        @Joe_Raby <br>Nice retort! So, DE is all the haters have, that's what they'll use.. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I personally thought DE would be a cool thing, but, I look at my server as just that, a SERVER.. with the cost of drives being, what, about $100 for a TB or two.. just build it right the first time. Non-issue, good try, lesson learned, make it an update later.. in the meantime, I've seen nothing that compares. I even have an app on my WP7 to allow me access to my WHS. Not to mention my Xbox, PC, and even my Mac Mini... good product, maybe even ahead of it's time. BTW.. (not pointed at you) let's not minimize the Beta agreement, like there was no warning.. It was clear to me, but of course, i actually read it.
        TechNickle
    • Not at all. that is one tiny component of the whole system

      @mike2k
      :|
      Tim Cook
    • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

      @mike2k
      Because it's amazing. You found one thing that may be negative about it and capitalized on it. Without DE, it is still amazing, useful, and I think everyone could benefit from having one in their household. From your comment, I would surmise that you never even tried it... just some hater waiting in the wings to criticize what you do not have, or understand. Sorry little soul.
      TechNickle
  • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

    WOW, state of the art stuff there MS. It's a 9 step program into OS hell.
    james347
    • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

      @james347 It *is* still in BETA, therefore if the above list scares you, stick to released products.
      InfiniteLurker
    • It's fun to watch Nt

      Nt
      Richard Flude
      • Well, it's not like Apple has anything better, or even close

        so it's like you don't have a choice :)
        John Zern
  • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

    Trying to follow the steps and I cannot install the service pack from step 1. Getting Error: ERROR_INVALID_DATA(0x80070000d) Even after installing the system update readiness tool... oh well :(
    InfiniteLurker
    • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

      @InfiniteLurker Fixed this by installing the WUSignUpTool and installing SP1 via Window Update.
      InfiniteLurker
  • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

    Seriously?? MS you could have mentioned this over the weekend, before I moved my data and re-installed WHS v1 since we were reminded on a hourly basis about the Expiration. Thanks Mary Jo for the info!
    <br><br>Anyway, where's that snow on the East Coast?? It's 5pm, Mother Nature!! <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">
    DJ_JFX
  • This is why I avoided it altogether

    A while back friends of mine tried to pursuade me into using Vail. If they have time to install and mess around with re-installing their systems fine, but I do not. Whether it's at work or at home, when I set up a server I set it up to run without me having to mess around and maintain it. I ended up choosing a Linux-based solution which includes the Samba file server, rsync, Bacula tape backup, and a list of other services. That server still runs today and I've never had to do any maintenance on it, it's been 100% set and forget. Best of all, it will NEVER expire and will run for as long as I want, no restrictions.
    Chris_Clay
  • RE: Microsoft enables workaround for expiring Vail Home Server beta

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