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back to article Microsoft hawks Home Server

Microsoft wants you to know that you can now purchase a home server loaded with its very own Windows Home Server operating system. Today, several big-name web retailers unveiled a machine from Hewlett-Packard, which helped develop the new OS, and a second is on sale straight from pint-sized hardware manufacturer Velocity Micro. …

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Power saving?

In an age of "turn off the <insert device name here> if you leave the room", I would really hope manufacturers of these servers are seriously considering power consumption.

Oh wait. It's based on Windows Server 2008, which in turn is loosely based on Vista. The bloat will make any power saving attempts worthless.

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Dead Vulture

Why Pay more...

For a small Windows 2K3 server which won't stream music in the correct order when you could buy a Synology Diskstation with TwonkyMedia for a lot less that won't get crippled by infections, has the same functionality and can be amended at the system level if you so desire.

Had Home Server at Beta, dumped it tried the RTM, kept it dumped...Just say no to theis one!

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Stop

Re: Power saving?

Actually, no.

It's based off of Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2, not 2008.

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Boffin

Before you post...

...make sure you have your facts right.

WHS is based on Windows Server 2003.

Which supports Idle disk spin down and CPU power saving modes.

And judging by the Windows Server 2003 box I have with seven HDD, WHS will spin down any extra disks and enter CPU power saving modes just fine. The OS disk, alas, won't spin down - well, my box has a software mirror for the OS, which may be preventing that from happening *sigh*

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Retail?

I hope this isn't an OEM-only product.

Also the burning question as far as I am concerned is: does it support a domain security model? I suspect not, that would be too useful.

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To late

I think Microsoft has missed yet another trend. Homeservers used to be trendy some years ago, but today, gettin a NAS harddrive is just way cheaper and reliably. And even the cheapest printers have buildt-in printservers now.

So Microsoft is simply to late by a few years, as usual.

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Flame

Lock in, bloat and a spare heater all in one!

Excellent... Buy one of these to be locked into MS's proprietry closed formats, run an obnoxiously powerful device just to, erm, store files and, to top it all off, you can warm the planet as well by running a 200W device 24/7 that'll warm your front room rather than a 20W NAS. Want to turn the damn thing off? Wait five minutes. Want to turn it on, wait a similar period of time.

OK, the MHS system does provide a *little* more than just file sharing, but once again, unless you're stupid enough to use MS Windows Live Messenger Hotmail (or whatever it's been branded today) then you'll have no use for it at all.

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@ Adam and Christian

I'd agree with you entirely, having had a NAS box for three years myself (autobackup, print server, ftp server, power saving mode) and am thinking of getting a Synology box which is a very nice piece of kit, supports AD, has an Apache web server built in and has RAID 0/1 on the two-disk models.

However, most 'home users' would not have any idea how to set up a NAS box even if they knew that such things were readily available. As for getting a Synology box and installing their own hard drives inside.....I don't think so.

There is a market for a 'Home Server' such as Microsoft's offering and people will buy it because they want it, they don't know of any alternative, and even if they did then unfortunately they'd be incapable of setting up any of the many alternatives.

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Dead Vulture

Before you post....

Make sure that whilst it may be based on 2K3, you can actually get to the power save settings you talk about as most of the things you'd expect on a 2K3 server are hidden......

IIRC from testing it, whilst it's based on 2K3, it hasn't got the same interface and trying to do any disk maintenance is fraught with difficulties due to the way it uses disks as a continuous volume.

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Go

..you got it..

Christian Berger is absolutely right - Nas boxes are the way to go these days. I have a 1TB box which cost me £150, additionally if you wanna watch DVD, XVID and DiVX in the lounge then simply invest in a quiet small-form PC for about £250 and stream the media directly from the NAS, its cheapers and a dam site more reliable (WTF did they restrict the XBox 360 from playing stuff such as DivX?!).

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Stop

Why line Microsofts pocket?

1. Find oldish, but still fairly decent machine.

2. Add Hard drives to suit

3. Install $FREEOS of choice with Samba

This would certainly be my preference, and it would probably be a lot more stable and reliable as well!

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Paris Hilton

Just thinking...

... it doesn't mention anything about anti-virus software (it is Windows crapware, after all...).

So, does it just not have any, so that there's an attack vector indirectly from malware on a connected PC WITH an Internet connection, i.e. that can seek it out and do the business...? Or does it have a fixed AV installation for Windows 2003 that can't be updated (no direct connection to the internet)...

... or does it just come with the Windows viruses already installed, to save everyone the bother?

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Let me get this right...

I need a system with a dual-core processor that has considerably more performance than the computer system I use on a daily basis just in order to have a remote *disk*? Something that literally "does not compute"...

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...Why?

Why would you buy this?

What does this do that a NAS box doesnt do.

Aren't servers more for like... running web applications? How many homes do that.

You need your media centre on 24/7 to make sure it records everything, do what I did, stuff it full of disks. Job done.

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Pretty useless

Anyone with any amount of digital media at home is going to look at the 500Gb machine and laugh, the 1Tb machine may also raise a giggle. I use a homebuilt 2 Tb server, RAID striped and mirrored, which cost less than the 1 Tb HP. Okay it doesn't backup other drives around the house but it does have sufficient storage for my video,music and pictures for some time to come.

Efros

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IT Angle

Why pay at all?

I had a Home Server way back in about 2000. Made it using an old '486 that would otherwise have been chucked out and the biggest 30-pin SIMMs I could find.

And, of course, I didn't pay for the OS; it was Linux, using Samba for file and print sharing (in those days, I still had a Windows machine).

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Or alternatively...

Get something less than half the size, for half the price, that uses half the power, wont be immediatley suceptible to every windows virus on the planet and will also work with a Mac or Windows 2000 or... you get the idea.

http://www.lacie.com/uk/products/product.htm?pid=10882

I've had a smaller version of this for a year now and it works like a charm.

Another case of too little too late from Microsoft, punting yet another crock of re-canned windows bloatware.

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Gav
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The home user spends their money on the desktop, not the server.

Jon Press has it right.

If I'm spending money on new hardware I want it at the sharp end of things, on my desktop. I don't want all that new technology hidden on a boring old server that's not doing much except being a big disk. I imagine most home users feel the same.

I'm far more likely to buy a new desktop and a maybe a large second drive. Put the second drive in my old computer and make *it* the server.

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Streamed Music

If your going to listen to music don't listen to it on your PC (no matter how good you think your soundcard is).

Buy a NAS,

Sell your house (to buy the next two items),

Buy a Linn Klimax DS (google for it),

Buy a decent Hi-Fi

Listen to the difference!

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Your all talking shit

This isn't aimed for us lot. You really think average Joe is bothered about disk spin down? Really think they care about shoving another box into their home compared to their 50" plasma, 2 PC's and a couple of games consoles?

The point of this isn't a 'Server' - it's a platform that allows three major advantages:

1. Central backup and health monitoring of all of your home PC's (running Windows XP or Vista). This includes partial or complete backup and also identified when the kids have decided to drop the AV or firewall to play some stupid game on their laptop upstairs.

2. File sharing and media streaming. Whilst it's easy enough on XP or Vista to create a file share, it's never ideal, and even now a huge number of home users don't know how to do it. What about RAID or adding new drives? WHS does all this automatically. Streamed all to your XBox360 or PS3 or anything that supports the INDUSTRY STANDARD that MS have implemented with media sharing.

3. Remote Access. By using UPnP, providing users with a domain and for it to just 'work', MS have actually done a decent job of this. Access your files anywhere. Music, Documents, Pictures etc.

Yep - I already have this. I backup using a NAS automatically, I can configure hardware or software RAID with my eyes shut (and obviously filesharing) and remote access can be done by using different ports on VNC or RDP and mapping it on your NAT table.

But HOME users don't know this. They can't do it - they don't want to. The wizard based interface and pretty GUI on WHS with step-by-step setup is a propper piece of cake.

For the sake of what SHOULD be £300 ($600), I'd get one just to save me the hassle of dicking about with firewalls, RAID arrays and shite backup software.

And BTW - yep, it's OEM only, but that also means you can get the OEM version of it too. Just don't expect to see it listed next to Vista in PC World!!!

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Gates Horns

Hacked Xbox anybody?

Sits under the TV, has 500GB hd for holding assorted media files, connects to network (wired) allows watching videos/looking at pictures on LCD TV, the playback of audio via a Home theatre surround sound system, plays Divx/DVD and allows all PCs/ Laptops to access it via the wireless network.

Am i missing something or is this WHS concept trying to do the same thing at a stupidly massive cost?

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MediaSmart? MediaDumb more like

Come on HP, you're building a home *server* and you populate the EX470 model with a single SATA hard drive.

No raid, no mirroring, no tape backup... nothing. And they're selling this as a home backup solution o_0

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or you could purchase the software

The software is around gbp 80, so you could make your own system for around gbp 300.

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I like it and actually paid money for it!

I tried WHS during it's beta phase, and liked it a lot. OEM discs have been available for quite some time; I paid around £80. I also knocked together a SFF PC with 750gb for £175, but with space eventually for 3tb when the need arises. I think it can do a lot more than people realise...

The backups are great, every night at a certain time all my PCs etc are backed up (if they're on/sleeping). Once the back ups are on the server, you can mount it as a network drive if you need to grab an old file. Subsequent back ups are sequential, so two backups of a 100gb drive does not take up 200gb of space. And when you PC dies, just stick in the recovery disc which will contact the server, and let you decide what back up you want to restore. The restoration process is as fast as your network, and when I bought a new larger hard drive, it was easier to just 'restore' the OS on the new hard drive rather than fiddle around cloning it with different partition sizes etc.

It has several other tricks up it's sleeves, like the remote desktop proxy. I only need to open to right ports on my firewall to point to the WHS box, then I can remote to any PC on my home network via a web browser interface.

Anything stored on the WHS can also be access online thru a web interface, with the option of zipping up mutliple files or folders to download large chunks at one time. You can also upload files etc.

The biggest positive are the plug-ins, which anybody can write. I have one that allows me to wake on lan any PC at home, or shut them down etc. There are others that allow people to add torrents to a download queue, create personal web sites on your WHS (and then accessbile thru the livenode.com address WHS sets you up with) etc etc, the sky's the limit with the plug-ins.

Finally, after all, it is just a windows computer, so you can run most any type of service alongside the WHS stuff, and the requirements are not that high at all. Mine has a cheap stick of 512mb ram and an old celeron processor (i think the minimum req. is 1ghz) so the hardware itself doesn't need to break the bank or require a lot of power.

p.s. I'm not a MS employee or part of some guerrilla PR marketing :)

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Answering the xbox question......

"(WTF did they restrict the XBox 360 from playing stuff such as DivX?!)."

Do a quick google for "Transcode 360" - freeware program that lets you stream DivX to your xbox 360 in real time.

To comment on the article, I agree - I'd much rather have a TB of NAT for £150 and spend the extra on desktop upgrades.

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Coat

The old Mcbill had a disk-farm ya ya hoooooo

I agree with most posts above. If I wanted a storage center for my files, I would buy just that (a simple NAS), not another server, running at home. If I wanted to do that, I would buy a mothafu**a bad-ass AMD server (whatshername) or a double-xeon (used, found in a bin) and do it right, for Christ´s sake, not some half-assed, half-baked server from uncle bill. Even my 5 year-old Pentium 4 ought do it fine. Perhaps Bill is losing IT.

Home servers, in my opinion, would be something else. For a moment I imagined a 'hidden' server where you would plug-in your refrigerator, microwave, ar-conditioner, vacuum cleaner, and god-knows-what-else, and they would be able to know by themselves when my place would need cleaning (last month) when should I dump the month-old food in the fridge, what kind of food I would like when I get home, and it would turn on the TV on my favorite pre-recorded program.

Damn, that would be the definition of a 50's housewife, but what the hell. If Bill is thinking about it, exactly, then let´s wait some 25 years before buying his home servers.

Car keys, wallet, cell phone, coat....

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Power consumption?

This thing is in the stone age as far as power consumption goes. One can do far, far better, even without exotic technology. This is just another of Bill's half-baked fetishes. Microsoft will never change. To them, everything is a PC running Windows.

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Title

@Chris Morrison

Spot on! somewhere in my ex-wife's house in England there lurks a Linn Sondek. Played vinyl, but as a friend of mine (Peter C.) said "It plays tunes!".

Good ol' days, huh??

-Andy

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WHS is GREAT

Get your facts straight and credit where it's due. WHS is in my eyes the best that's come from MS so far.

The main advantage of WHS is that you can add drives of any size and tech, internal or external and have them increase the storage pool. For Joe home user this is perfect. You place a checkmark on the shares you want to keep duplicated and WHS will make sure there are copies on 2 drives in case one fails. This uses more space than RAID, but the disks are regular volumes that can be mounted elsewhere, unlike RAID.

You can as easily remove a drive from the pool (as long as you have space in the pool to move it's contents).

The backup is also great, it works at the cluster level, this means that if you have 3 pcs on your network running XP, It will only use the space of one copy of it. By default it keeps the last 3 days, weeks and months, meaning you can mount any of those points in time the get a file.

I've built mine with an old athlon 2200 board I had replaced and never managed to get rid of, slapped 3 500GB drives in it and it's been humming quietly in a closet for the last month. I've used 500GB drives as they are at the sweet spot of cost/GB. Once 750 or 1TB drives get cheaper, I can replace them one by one as needed. Let Joe try that with RAID or NAS...

My media collection is at 650GB right now, some of that (100GB of music) is kept synced at my media center, so I don't need that duplicated on the WHS. Half my videos are also burnt on DVDs so those could do without duplication (I keep them duplicated for now to avoid having to reload 80 disks manually in case of failure).

In the states and Canada you can get a 120 day trial for free, give it a try!

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Utter Rubbish!

Whats the point! I bet all the DRM'd music files you own won't stream, and the XBOX won't play .avi files, especially DIVX/XVID.

Plus,,,,, whats the betting you have to buy CALS like you do with Server 2003

(1) Pay for an XP license

(2) Pay for a Server license

(3) Pay EXTRA to connect the XP computer to the server.....

Am I the only one who smells a rat???

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10 CALs included

@Stewart, Chill,a 10 CALs are included, enough for a big home.

I don't own DRM'd music, mostly self ripped FLACs, and as posted earlier both transcode360 and also nero let you stream on-the-fly transcoded avis to the xbox.

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Anonymous Coward

freenas

Just grab an old computer, install a few Hard drives and then download freenas

http://www.freenas.org/

I set this up for a local small business to use as a file server, Boots off a USB stick and has a pair of 500G SATA II drives in a RAID 1 mirror and all it cost was $450.

Better than the $2200 solution running SBS that all the other consultants around here wanted to sell them.

Best part is that they can manage it themselves.

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MS Missed A Huge Trick

Believe it or not, Home Server does not operate as an MCE server!! IMHO MS has missed a huge trick by not including this. To have a home server box under the stairs with a few TV tuners connected, able to stream live/recorded TV around the house to other PC's running an (as yet non existant) software-extender, or to a MCE Extender would be killer app.

I was at WinHEC back in May and questioned the devs about this. Its a planned feature for MS Home Server Version 2 - why the heck it was not in version 1 is anyone's guess - all the required code to implement it already exists...

Nigel

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E-Mail

If only Microsoft had included a Windows Home Exchange server too

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Oh joy !

Finally another excuse for giving my hard-earned money to Microsoft only to get a bunch of empty promises in return.

I can't wait for the chance to see my new MHS box flounder horribly as soon as I ask it to actually do something, not to mention that I fully expect it to not stream anything anywhere at all before phoning home to find out whether it should or not. And let's not forget the pleasures of Genuine Advantage, which will genuinely pop up a message after every other Windows Update to tell me that I have to re-validate my pirate copy within 30 days - except I won't have a screen to see the popup on.

On second thought, I think I'll pass. Microsoft already has a dismal track record when it comes to respecting my privacy on my desktop - I can only shudder to think of what that will become on a system that Microsoft is supposed to manage entirely on its own.

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