Windows Home Server

Windows Home Server
In his keynote speech at CES, one of the products Bill Gates introduced was the Windows Home Server, a small form, headless, meaning with no monitor, computer that you can set anywhere on your network. The Home Server will backup every computer that connects to it every night, and make it available online using your Windows Live ID. They have a website up at www.stopdigitalamnesia.com, it’s trying to be funny and informative at the same time, be sure to check it out for more information. One of the developers notes below that he has been working on it for three years.

I am writing this from the Windows Home Server blogger’s lounge in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Bill Gates just finished up his CES 2007 keynote where the product I have been slaving over for the last 3 years was finally formally announced to the world!

The photo you see in this post was taken today in the blogger’s lounge (with my Windows Mobile phone; hence the picture quality). This is a Windows Home Server Prototype that we built to explore innovative hardware design. I put my hand in the shot so you could get an idea of just how big (small) this particular device is. This prototype uses 2.5″ hard disks and thus has less storage expansion capability than the HP MediaSmart product will, but it was built to show another perspective of what a Windows Home Server could be. Source: cek.log

From the Microsoft Press Release,

Delivered on hardware from leading partners, Windows Home Server will help families with multiple PCs connect their home computers, digital devices and printers, in order to easily store, protect and share their treasured photos, music, videos and documents. By automatically backing up home PCs, centralizing a family’s digital “stuff” and allowing access to it away from home, Windows Home Server will help simplify and enhance family life.

Simple to set up and use, Windows Home Server takes advantage of the familiarity of the Windows operating system to help families easily store and organize digital content. As consumers use Windows Vista to create, find and enjoy digital media, Windows Home Server will be an ideal solution to help manage, protect and access that content. Families using the product will be able to automatically back up every Windows Vista or Windows XP-based computer in the home and completely restore, or ?rewind,? a PC to a time when it was working well. They will also be able to use Windows Home Server to centrally monitor the health of their Windows Vista-based PCs, to proactively identify and resolve problems.

Windows Home Server customers can use a personalized Windows Live Internet address to connect to Windows Home Server from outside of the home. As a result, they can share photos with friends and family and enjoy their music and videos. Families can use the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system or other Windows Media Connect-supported devices to view or listen to digital media stored on Windows Home Server, as well. They can also connect a printer to Windows Home Server in order to print from any connected PC in the home. Source: Bill Gates Unveils Windows Home Server at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show

Windows Home Server will be available from many harder providers, AMD is announcing the AMD LIVE! Home Media Server, at CES this week. Inventec Corp. and Quanta Computer Inc. are also demonstrating hardware designs, complementing the HP MediaSmart Server product demonstrated in Bill Gates’ keynote address and in the Microsoft booth. The HP MediaSmart Server comes with four hard drive bays and four USB ports. It also comes equipped with HP Photo Webshare.

A post from Jesse Lewin has a video and some more info,

As a small, headless box that lives on your network and in your closet, a Windows Home Server can quickly grow the pool of storage from which all of your shared files for each of your users lives. The backup engine in Windows Home Server also silently backs up the entirety of each machine connected to it every night. And because the data is always online, using the built-in remote access abilities, you?ll also be able to access your data from any machine on the planet. Source: 10

A post from InsideMicrosoft, which is huge and contains loads of information, some of it I will quote here, says that it will store all of your files, data, MP3, photos and video, and it will stream to digital media extenders, like the Xbox 360. They plan on it pretty much being plug and play, although you will have to setup some things like the remote access, the hard drives can be of any size, and it will be accessed as one big drive. You can remove the drives and the Server will tell you how it affects the file system and will move the files to other drives. He also predicts that if Microsoft adds wifi to computer sharing, the Zune will be able to download music from it. You will be able to configure a free internet address, yoursite.homeserver.com, for example, and you can access it from a networked computer or a web browser to upload or download files. It says its three primary purposes are,

Automated Computer Backup – Home Server will sit in the middle of your house and completely backup the entire hard drives of every computer connected to it, automatically. Lose anything, even an entire computer, and you will be able to restore it. You will even be able to restore older versions of files, taking advantage of a valuable feature in Windows Vista.

Access Everything From Anywhere – With a Home Server, you will be able to access all of your files from any computer, inside or outside your home, as well as accessing your home computers from outside the home. You will centrally store your files to make them easier to access at all times.

Grows With You – Home Server will be designed to make it easier for users to expand its capabilities, especially making it easy to add more hard drives. Source: EXCLUSIVE: Windows Home Server In Detail

According to Microsoft’s projections, Beta 2 of Home Server will arrive in just two weeks, on January 22. Pre-Beta 1 was reached last July. They are also projecting Release Candidate status by May 15 and the final Release To Manufacturing on June 22. I haven’t seen any pricing information yet, I will add it when it is released.

Minimum System Requirements:

  • 1 GHz Pentium 3 (or equivalent)
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 80 GB internal hard drive as primary drive
  • Bootable DVD drive
  • Display (only for software installation)
  • 100 Mbps wired Ethernet
  • Keyboard and mouse (only for software installation)