For those Windows Home Server (WHS) loyalists hoping against hope that Microsoft might reconsider its decision to cut Drive Extender from the coming 'Vail' release, your prayers have NOT been answered.
Microsoft is delivering the Release Candidate (RC) test build of Vail -- Windows Home Server 2011 -- on February 3, and there is no Drive Extender included. There's also no Drive Extender in "Aurora" -- Small Business Server 2011 Essentials -- a Vail sibling for which Microsoft also is delivering an RC build today. (Aurora is a hybrid cloud-on-premises small-business server, for those who need a refresher.)
In case there is any confusion: Drive Extender is gone. It is not coming back. Period.
Both the Vail and Aurora RCs are public, and available for download as of 10 a.m. PT today via the Microsoft Connect site. Microsoft is calling these the "final, pre-release versions" of both products, with the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) code due in the first half of calendar 2011.
(The WHS team signed off on the RC earlier this week, as the tweet, pictured above -- which the team quickly removed -- indicated.)
The RC version of the products includes a new wizard for deploying storage and migrating folders. The wizard simplifies the process of detecting storage, formatting a disk, assigning a volume and moving a folder to the new volume, according to Microsoft officials. Microsoft also is making available "Learning Bites for Essentials," which are 10 five-to-six-minute videos that go through self-service IT tasks available to those using the Small Business Server 2011 Essentials product.
The decision by Microsoft to cut Drive Extender from Vail late last year made for a lot of unhappy Vail users and testers. A number of them created a petition, requesting Microsoft reconsider its decision. Despite the thousands of (mostly angry) comments, the Drive Extender lobbying has not influenced the team.
Drive Extender, which was part of the first Windows Home Server release, provided for storage pooling of multiple hard drives and automated data duplication. Microsoft officials cut the feature after they (indirectly) said it was too buggy to merit inclusion in the final products. Microsoft is advising customers to use products from various storage OEMs instead.
I've seen rumors that some members of the Vail team, unhappy with the product's directions, were seeking to "decouple" itself from the other small-business server teams at Microsoft and be moved to a different part of the company. But Director of Windows Server Marketing Manlio Vecchiet said that was not a possibility (or even something he had heard about).
Along with the RCs, Microsoft provided an update to the "Colorado" platform software development kit, which provides information and tools for developing add-ins to extend Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials.
I'm curious to see what testers who are still interested in Vail and those kicking the tires of Aurora think of the near-final RC builds....