Windows Home Server won't launch on August 27

Windows Home Server won't launch on August 27

Summary: From the too-good-to-be-true files: Windows Home Server (WHS) is not going to launch on August 27. It sounds like the launch of the product is still on schedule for late September-early October.

TOPICS: Servers, Windows

From the too-good-to-be-true files: Windows Home Server (WHS) is not going to launch on August 27.

It sounds like the launch of the product is still on schedule for late September-early October.

Long Zheng of discovered WHS as listed as "generally available" as of August 27 (according to Microsoft's lifecycle support page last week). But that date is not what it seems, a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

"The only thing that is available on Aug. 27 is tech support for system builders," she said.

"Based on our RTM (release to manufacturing) announcement in July, the software was released to OEMs and is making its way out through the distribution channels. We're looking forward to seeing system builder products based on Windows Home Server hit the market. But as you know, Microsoft does not release system builder or OEM pricing. We'll have more information about the actual system builder products when we launch later this year," the spokeswoman added.

Some distributors outside the U.S. already have begun posting prices for Windows Home Server, starting at $150 per system-builder copy," according to Computerworld.

Update on August 22: Looks like launch day, at least for the HP MediSmart Home Server models, is September 15. (Thanks to for spotting the link.) The 500 GB model will be priced at $596; a one terabyte system is priced at $745, according to the WeGotServed blog.

Topics: Servers, Windows


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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  • WHS Not ready for ANY RELEASE DATE.

    I tested RC1 Windows Home Server and found that it was a sloppy piece of Windows 2003 Server cut and pasting.

    0) None of the install screens were anywhere near ready for user installs. Half of them were 50% gray and the other half would would tell you it was Windows Server 2003 first that you were installing, then Small Business Server 2005(?), then it would tell you it was Windows Home Server Beta 1 or maybe RC1.
    1) It was not obvious at all if a "slipstream" or sysprep sort of installation could be successfully scripted for the software packages that were obviously slap-dashed together.
    2) A number of Administration modules in Control Panel either didn't work or were faulty when they did.
    3) User names and password policy requires either resetting all the easy passwords to allow external logon or forgoing having the users have external access on the same user account.
    4) I never managed to get the system restore or backup functions to work at all. Even when I corrected the errors it reported on my Windows XP Pro SP2+ system, that BTW reported it had no errors.
    5) The WHS Connector module that you are required to install on your XP Pro desktop evidently could not find my PCI Bus IDE hard drives on the Promise Technology TX2000+ controller that were configured to run as independent ATA-IDE drives, even when I had the correct and most up-to-date driver installed. It would tell me the drives were there but couldn't back them up or even ID them by drive letter. I found that adding a logon script to set a drive letter to the share on the server would allow access on an XP Pro system similar to the WHS but a heck of a lot easier to administer.
    6) What idiot at Microsoft thinks that FAT and FAT32 drives should NOT be backed up?
    7) What idiot at Microsoft thinks that NOT including the default SVGA and XVGA video drivers is appropriate on a system that might require some hardware maintenance that is NOT supported in the idiot User Web Interface?
    8) What idiot at Microsoft thinks that including ONLY ONE Nic driver for a RealTek 8169 chipset is an appropriate way to setup a Network FILE SERVER?
    9) What idiot at Microsoft thinks that including only 10 USER ACCOUNTS is an appropriate number of accounts for a system that might be used by a family of more than 10 individuals, one or two of which might want to have TWO accounts so he could run one in User and the other as ADMIN?
    10) What idiot at Microsoft thinks that it might NOT be nice to allow Users to log onto the NETWORK system using VPN and IPSEC which used to require DOMAIN logon to allow connections to systems other than the gateway? (This was one of those options in MMC that looked like it was still there but it didn't work.)
    11) What idiot at Microsoft decided to send the RC1 system configuration out such that the outgoing firewall settings were wide open? (And IP Bridging between two NICs, One on the Internet, was still available as a option to turn on and GUESS WHAT? It worked!)
    12) What idiot at Microsoft decided to disenfranchise all of their system owners that still are using Win9X, Win2K or NT 4.0 clients? Yes there are likely ways around it but good grief the product could be expanded WITHOUT doing anything that would harm the security model of the d--- Server! You're using WORKGROUP security Microsoft, not AD Domain, or Radius security!

    13) I never put the system on the Internet. I decided that because it looked and acted like the biggest freaking security nightmare I have ever seen, I would not attempt to test its remote log-on capability. I do have systems on my DSL connection that I'd like to keep virus and worm free.

    14) Did I report this to Microsoft? No. Was there a mechanism to do the reporting? I'm not sure. I never did find anything other than sales pitches at all of the websites that were plugged with URLs on all the "help" screens tacked onto the system.

    15) Would I buy this product? Not till they start selling lift tickets in Hell.
    • Not Sure About All That, But...

      ...there were far more problems with the last beta version than previous ones, and they were not being addressed.

      WHS did not play well with most security software. Security does seem to be a legitimate concern. Connections between the server and the networked computers dropped out for no reason. Finally, the remote access feature is a complete mess that most testers could never even get working.

      What started as a simple, workable product evolved into a configuration nightmare. I was originally a huge fan of WHS, but now I would just as soon set up a real server or buy a third party network appliance for file and media sharing.
    • What does this mean?

      "The WHS Connector module that you are required to install on your XP Pro desktop
      evidently could not find my PCI Bus IDE hard drives on the Promise Technology
      TX2000+ controller that were configured to run as independent ATA-IDE drives,
      even when I had the correct and most up-to-date driver installed. It would tell me
      the drives were there but couldn't back them up or even ID them by drive letter. I
      found that adding a logon script to set a drive letter to the share on the server
      would allow access on an XP Pro system similar to the WHS but a heck of a lot
      easier to administer."

      What does this mean? They want you to use some special driver to access the server
      , instead of Windows standard networking?
      • The WHS Connector

        To make the Windows XP and Vista boxes connect "automatically", one of the CD ISO's was a disk that installed some software modules on the desktops that basically installed a "log-on script" that ran when the user logs onto the desktop that re-established a connection to the WHS.

        The problem was that however the WHS connector worked it didn't properly report the status of the Promise IDE drive controller to the Server. So even though I could see and use the drives on the XP computer just fine, the WHS did not know how to connect to the two drives attached to the controller. So I was not ever able to get my computer to get the proverbial green light by the WHS.

        Besides that, the WHS never managed to get the backup functions to operate properly even when triggered manually. That of course killed the possibility of using it for a "bare-metal" restore.
    • Driver Issues?

      I just downloaded all the XP drivers to a USB memory stick and plugged it into my test laptop, and got everything to work including sound and wireless network.

      Heck Windows home server backed up and restore my 2nd test laptop wirelessly.

      The only problem I have is my router is not fully pnp compliant so Home Server cannot configure it automatically, and I cannot get my Mac to connect to it.
      • Driver Issues, yes!

        Yes. As I relate below, I tested it as a USER, not an IT guru. No drivers, no server: no NIC drivers, DEFINITELY no server. After spending all that time downloading and burning the 2 CDs and the 1 DVDR I was somewhat exciting to see what sort of "out-of-the-box" experience might be in store for a regular user. Well I found out!

        No user could have gotten through that process and I'm willing to bet a sixpack that the typical Windows User is NOT going to be able to install that product in the shape it was.

        I used an XP Pro driver that I manually installed and registered the driver for the NIC on my DELL so that I could get the WHS to work and communicate on my home network. Having a single RealTek NIC driver for the system was ridiculous. Having 5 or 6 VGA drivers was likewise insane. Yes I could have done what you did but the typical user does not think to go to Microsoft's Server site and download the driver database and put the whole thing on a USB flash drive.
    • Not sure how much it matters.

      I have to admit, I haven't followed this product very closely, but 10 users seems fairly reasonable for the vast majority of users.

      My guess is that MS has put that limit on it, because it's selling for much less than their regular server software, and they don't want to chance cannibalizing their server software....but that's just a guess, since i really have no idea what the differences are.
      • 10 Users limit is an artificial limit

        Not a single workstation product from MS has ever allowed more than 10 connected users at one time. Notice I said WORKSTATION not Server products. They could have been a little more generous than that. Think of a Family that is spread all over the country. You've got as many 2 Grandparent pairs per adult, 2 Parents per adult, then you might have as many as 6 to 10 kids and they might have grandkids as well. Yes that's somewhat extreme but large extended families are typical in Texas and other areas of the country with Hispanic families especially. You want to allow them to connect and look at your baby pictures, you'll be doubling up or setting one account for general access.
    • A few things...

      #3: Users aren't required to have the same passwords. While it has a little more convenience to it, you can have two different passwords. I know....I did for a while.

      #8: I'm not sure about this since I didn't try it but did you try bridging the connections?

      #10: Well since this is Windows HOME Server, it's targeted for the average to above-average user. Therefore, no domain. Most home users don't need or know what a domain is.

      #12: People have to upgrade at some point. And costs to support old OS's is very expensive and inhibit the newer technologies. You're only as strong as your weakest link. (I might give you Win2k).

      #13: You lost a lot of functionality here. These were some of the best features IMHO. Add the fact of all of the addons that use an active internet connection and you missed a HUGE opportunity here.

      I'm sure AV was the issue here for you also but keep in mind that it will be resolved. Now I happened to have an old version of Symantec Corporate lying around that I was able to use, which gave me management functions on my other PCs but keep in mind AV vendors are addressing this "new frontier."
      • Bridging NICs

        #8 Yes it is possible to bridge the NICs and if you're a HOME User you might think that's the thing to do. They left the option open but it wasn't disabled. To Joe Sixpack it looks like the Internet access works better, or at least it looks like it!!! But its exactly the WRONG thing to do.

        #12 This might be the first product where Microsoft throws out the majority of their User base. BTW DOS programs STILL run in Windows XP CMD windows actually better than under Windows 2K or NT 4.0!

        #13 There is NO WAY I will put a Microsoft product especially in Beta on the Internet, period.

        When it became obvious that the backup function did not work I knew then I really didn't want to mess with the rest of the system.
  • Yea another OS to figure out?

    I never tested WHS Beta, but hos is this supposed to be better than what Apple/Mac offers (or what Linux offers for free)? It sure sounds like if you have to figure out yet another OS from Microsoft that you might as well use Linus and be done with it...
    • It's for a Home Network

      This is the first server OS for a home network. Apple and Linux aren't there yet. There are some challenges to build a server that can be maintained by people who are not IT savy.

      No surprises regarding RC issues. I don't think MS wanted anyone to have a complete build with drivers. As noted it is built on 2003 Server, so the drivers and security support should be available when released.

      This is a product whose time has come. lets hope MS has their act together and we geet a good product at release.

      People who downloaded beta or RC releases have no room to complain. They knew what they were getting.
      • RE: Home Network 'UHS' ...

        "This is the first server OS for a home network. <strike>Apple</strike> and
        [b][i]Linux[/i][/b] aren't there yet."

        "Ubuntu Home Server (UHS) will be an edition of the Ubuntu operating
        system which allows users to administer their home network. With Ubuntu
        Home Server you will be able to store all your music, songs and pictures in
        one central location, to access your files over the internet and to backup all
        the computers in your house."
        • And furthermore....

          "This is the first server OS for a home network. Apple and Linux aren't there yet."
          Right... what Ruped24 said and this:

          "Instant drive sharing.
          New to AirPort Extreme, AirPort Disk turns almost any external USB hard drive into
          a shared drive. Simply connect the drive to the USB port on the back of your AirPort
          Extreme and ? voila ? all the documents, videos, photos, and other files on the
          drive instantly become available to anyone on the secure network, Mac and PC
          alike. It?s perfect for backups, collaborative projects, and more.

          A simple-to-use AirPort Disk Utility gives you more setup options. You could set
          the disk to become available whenever you connect to the network. You could set
          up password-protected accounts for everybody on the network, or allow read-only
          access to certain files and folders. The choice is yours."

          You get a print server as well btw. Hey, you can even buy it TODAY. Ain't that
          • Errr... warmed over stuff?

            My run-of-the-mill Linux distro does that for a coster and a download.
            Yes, even print server. Shared plugged-in devices too (Just share the /media directory, and all CDs/DVDs/USB drives/etc.become accessible).
            Considering the proactive firewall, monitored ports, isolated Samba process, AD domain administrator capabilities, on top of streaming capabilities (ICEcast, VLC server, etc.) available right off the install DVD, may I say that WHS looks like a bumped sieve?

            About remote management, I don't hink you can do better than that: either an X over LAN session, or use VNC, or better, at a distance with a hand-held, over SSH? Or tunnellingwith SSL...

            Backups? Do you prefer it incremental, or diff-based? At a set time, or only when requirements are met? Local, or distant? Replicated over the network? Compressed and burnt on a multisession DVD?

            Linux has it all. It has actually gotten quite easy to set up and run. On the other hand, the Release Candidate (its supposed to be final code, with debugging symbols removed) of Windows Home Server looks like it's barely able to run as an OS...
            Mitch 74
          • HOME people

            The problem is that most HOME USERS (read again if you have to) won't be able to set this up and use it.
          • Yes, HOME in 1989

            I had Mac servers in the HOME since 1989 with a Mac II. These are the easiest things to setup in the HOME of any PC (personal computer)I've ever used. Contrast the ease of Mac for HOME networking against the issues people have with Microsoft networking at HOME. I garantee that you won't be able to light up a MHS and see it when you bring HOME your Domain laptop from work.
          • I agree

            But the OEMs will be able to. I expect a bunch of companies to release various permutations of the system. You'll see Via Chip based systems all the way up to Dual and Quad core systems.

            Personally none of them will be worth what you'll have to pay for them. Even buying a OEM copy of Windows XP Pro and a copy of Ghost or some other drive imaging software is a better deal. Linux distros would be even a better deal.
      • Malarky

        "Apple and Linux aren't there yet.

        I ran thin client at my house fully 5 years ago ... on Linux. At the same time I was also running publicly available Apache and Postfix.

        It is my carefully considered opinion that anyone technically savvy enough to run (knowingly ... I'm not counting FrontPage) a server can already run one on Linux.

        MSFT is late to market (again). Stand poised for their next technical breakthrough --- little clicky things you can push around your desktop.

        I think Ballmer should be publicly (fill in the blank) for even contemplating letting these servers see light of day. This is one area where the only responsible thing to do is to keep the barriers to entry high enough to keep out the neanders.
        Jambalaya Breath
        • addendum

          BTW, I ran those servers with no formal training in computers and only a high school diploma for formal education ... said diploma granted in 1970.

          I got nearly a years uptime before a lengthy power failure (the entire east coast ... remember?) took the box down.

          Contrary to popular FUD, Linux doesn't require certified geeks to run it ... but it does rebuff morons.

          "Apple and Linux aren't there yet." Wrong. Linux, at least, is "there". It's Windows that has missed the ship.
          Jambalaya Breath