Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

Summary: 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. But the RCs of Vail and Aurora are out, as of February 3.

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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....

Topics: Servers, Microsoft, Operating Systems, 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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34 comments
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  • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

    WHS is dead without the Drive Extender. Normal users can't be expected to use raids that can't be grown.
    hvakrg
    • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

      :(
      www.awwgame.com
      carolineueths
  • Not interested any longer

    Removing Drive Extender was a deal-breaker for me. I'm no longer the least bit interested in the WHS v2 product. I'll stick with WHS v1 for as long as I can.
    bmgoodman
  • WHS version 1

    I'll stick with Version 1 of WHS and move to a different product (NOT Microsoft's) when I finally have to retire the server I have used for the past 3 years.
    azasadny
  • Wow, who will pay for this castrated product????

    NT.
    DonnieBoy
    • Dude, you said "who cares" all along, even saying that DE

      was a waste of time and overated because of the size of the drives and RAID was better, so why pretend this matters to you now?

      You're just a [i]propeller-headed troll[/i], so why even post?
      AllKnowingAllSeeing
      • Hey, no offense, but, this castrated product will not sell very well.

        NT
        DonnieBoy
  • Doesn't matter to me, I'll still buy it.

    Was Drive Extender a bit overated? with 750 Gigabyte drives pretty much the norm anymore, did many people [i]really[/i] get WHS for just the DE feature?

    I use it for Media sharing and backups, DE was something I tried, but didn't really need.
    AllKnowingAllSeeing
    • Agreed. After reading the comment below

      @AllKnowingAllSeeing
      from rshol, WHS for $99 sounds [b]alot[/b] more simple and far less complicated, but I'm not too concered about DE myself.

      One disk on the desktop, one for the server: Done.

      I have two 750G sata HD's in a RAID 1, and still haven't even scratched the surface in terms of hard disk usage, so DE is not a loss, at least not to me. Other people, sure that's a valid concearn, but how many, I really don't know.
      John Zern
      • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

        @John Zern DE would be a loss for me, considering I have nearly 2 TB of video files I share on my home movie server....

        Microsoft is going to tick a lot of people off.
        Ron Burgundy
      • Ron Burgundy, I won't disagree with you

        @John Zern
        on that they'll tick off people because some really liked it, I'm just wondering what percentage? I know this isn't a large sampling by any means, but out of 4 people I know who use WHS (not including myself) none are setup with DE.

        They just use one drive. I'm not saying its not a good feature, the ability to throw a second drive in to have it mounted and extended, I'm just curious as to whether it's a heavily used feature, that's all.
        John Zern
    • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

      @AllKnowingAllSeeing
      Yes, it was *the* reason I built a WHS server. I have 4x1TB drives in use, currently backing up nearly 2GB from my primary desktop, plus storing backups of my other desktop and laptops.
      J.Lebel
    • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

      @AllKnowingAllSeeing <br><br>i got WHS v1 specifically for DE, and have been extremely pleased with the results. DE is simple enough i have had my wife replace a drive with a larger one for me and not worried about it <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy"><br><br>with >3TB and still growing, i've started testing <a href=http://www.amahi.org>Amahi</a> as a replacement because i'm running into the 32 bit memory limits in WHS v1. without DE, i will not consider WHS v2.<br><br>(edit to correct spelling)
      erik.soderquist
  • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

    Already moved to Ubuntu server on my HP EX-495. Two small (200gb) drives software raid 1 array mounted as /, two bigger (1.5tb) drives software raid 1 array mounted as /home. MiniDLNA for media streaming. Samba for file sharing. SFTP for remote file access (beats the holy living heck out of file access via browser). Backup windows machines with Genie Timeline. Back up Macs with some free software I can't remember the name of from the mac app store (Time Machine to Linux was a nightmare). Throughputs are better. Don't have to use IE to administer remotely, just ssh in from laptop or iphone. Do not yet have the courage to try and install/use greyhole. All in all many better things. All I really miss is the nice drive lights on the front panel.
    txscott
    • Are you talking about WHS V1?

      @rshol
      As with WHS you don't use IE to administer it, and you don't access your files using a browser.
      Now I haven't played around with Vail, is that the version that requires what you just said?
      John Zern
      • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

        @John Zern <br>If I am away from my home network, the only way to get to my files on any version of WHS is through a browser (I could install an FTP server like filezilla, but that's not very secure or use the WebDAV plugin for access, but WebDAV and Win 7 clients do not work together). Ditto for remote administration and its even worse because I have to use IE.<br><br>Connected to my LAN, of course I can access the SMB shares directly with windows explorer and use the WHS console or RDC to admin the box.
        txscott
    • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

      @rshol

      filezilla support SSL encrypted sessions, and i have installed ssh on a windows host before as well.

      these might be useful to you if you still have your WHS v1 system online
      erik.soderquist
      • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

        @erik.soderquist

        The problem I found with Filezilla and the WHS FTP plugin are that there are difficulties (at least I had them) making the FTP shares the same as the SMB shares, because of the way WHS creates the shares (I guess). I tried FZ and even installed several ssh servers, but none of them worked well, including sshd in Cygwin.
        txscott
      • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

        @rshol

        filezilla on WHS to look at the DE managed shares has to be set to run as an actual user, not the system account, and to look at the UNC name of the share

        this can be crippling if you want to have multiple users with different permissions accessing the shares via FTP...

        the only way i was able to work that piece was to rig multiple instances of Filezilla, each using different ports
        erik.soderquist
  • RE: Windows Home Server 'Vail' Release Candidate (minus Drive Extender) goes to testers

    One thing is for sure: Microsoft has made the Drobo and NetGear ReadyNAS folks quite happy.
    breissim