Gadget blogs like Engadget and Gizmodo were buzzing today about an interesting position that Microsoft apparently posted on a techie job board. The software giant appears to be hiring for the next version of its Windows Home Server product, and it looks once again like Microsoft is playing catch-up to those pesky folks at Apple. In particular, the job listing says version two of Windows Home Server is going to come with a backup interface that mimics the Time Machine one on Apple's Time Capsule network hard drive/router combo device. The job posting also promises the no-duh addition of Windows Media Center integration as well as support for integration of Microsoft's new Live Mesh online applications.
As with a number of recent Microsoft product launches, Windows Home Server has shown promise, but hasn't exactly revolutionized the network-attached-storage (NAS) market for PCs. Despite being introduced with much fanfare at the 2007 edition of CES, the platform has only one high-profile device running it: HP's MediaSmart Server. (You can also buy the software separately and roll your own home server.) A few manufacturers offer NAS devices that offer iTunes server functionality for Windows PCs, so Microsoft has some catching up to do with Media Center integration as well. Though more and more NAS units are crowding the market, there's still an opening for Windows Home Server if it offers superior features and ease of use. Then again, as Engadget points out, if the company is only this far along working on the next version, it's not exactly an encouraging sign.
I contacted the appropriate Windows Home Server PR contacts to find out if Microsoft would confirm if any of those potential new features are under development, but I've yet to hear back. I'll be sure to update once I do. In any event, this all raises the question: Can Microsoft make Windows Home Server a successful and widespread platform for NAS devices?
[Update: I've heard back from Microsoft, and while the company confirms that the job posting is legit, a spokesperson says, "The information included in the job posting is purely speculative. The next version of Windows Home Server is currently in the planning stages and many features are being considered. But we do not have any specific details to share or confirm at this point." ]