Windows Home Server is no more

Microsoft's efforts to offer a version of Windows Server specifically for home server use have now changed. As revealed today in a new PDF FAQ document for the just announced Windows Server 2012 Essentials, the company announced it won't continue to offer new versions of its Windows Home Server product.

In the PDF document, Microsoft states:

Windows Home Server has seen its greatest success in small office/home office (SOHO) environments and among the technology enthusiast community. For this reason, Microsoft is combining the features that were previously only found in Windows Home Server, such as support for DLNA-compliant devices and media streaming, into Windows Server 2012 Essentials and focusing our efforts into making Windows Server 2012 Essentials the ideal first server operating system for both small business and home use—offering an intuitive administration experience, elastic and resilient storage features with Storage Spaces, and robust data protection for the server and client computers.

The first version of Windows Home Server was launched in 2007. It was accompanied by server hardware made specifically for the operating system, including HP's MediaSmart Home Server. However, the home PC server market never really caught on with the general public. The last major version of Windows Home Server was released in March 2011.

Thanks to remco8462 for the tip!

Source: Windows Server 2012 Essentials FAQ

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When will Microsoft realise that v1 and maybe v2 won't have a huge customer following as by definition it will largely be purchased by the early adopters; the "techies" of this world. To become successful they need to stand by a product and continue development rather than stop at the first hurdle. They did the same thing with Zune.

The things 80% of the people are missing in these comments are the Bare metal backups that WHS does for $45.00. Having used it before I can say it is amazing and worth every penny. I'll continue to run WHS for a long time.

I found it too basic from a "feature" point of view.

W2K3 and W2K8 were far superior - I use AD and HyperV (for virtualized Linux guests). If you don't need that, then not sure you really need a server. Maybe a NAS instead.

Well i was saving up for new hardware for a new build, for a my first windows home server, and i guess i will use that money else ware .

Does Foundation have Storage Space?

I think Foundation is more equivalent to WHS than Essentials simply because they are both OEM only. The Foundation is described as "the economical general purpose server" that seems to be more appropriate for home use.

And if it's OEM like WHS was, then it should be much more affordable.

I thought Windows server Foundations is what replaced WHS? Essentials is basically what standard use to be Foundations has all the WHS features and is OEM only like WHS was and only costs $40..

And this completes killing off the WHS brand and the huge loyalty and fanbase it had developed. It started with completely destroying the product with WHS v2 which was little more than a glorified file server, but it was still used by many due to the ease of use and very low cost compared to the typical MS server OS. Now they really have decided to punish those users.

As a WHS user, we first were forced to rebuild the entire server when WHS 2011 came out since it was incompatible. Now it won't be supported anymore. Just wonderful.

Singh400 said,
Oh FFS, I'm still running WHS v1. And I love it, guess I'll never upgrade.

Yep, I still rely on my trusty old HP MediaSmart Server and love it too. WHS 2011 didn't really interest me but I'm keen to see what happens with this new version. If the price is right and the hardware looks good I'll probably upgrade this time around.

jakem1 said,
Yep, I still rely on my trusty old HP MediaSmart Server and love it too. WHS 2011 didn't really interest me but I'm keen to see what happens with this new version. If the price is right and the hardware looks good I'll probably upgrade this time around.
Maybe I'll upgrade too. However if it doesn't have the same easy to use features that v1 had (and were stripped out in v2 of WHS) then I'll be sticking with v1 for a long long time.

That it never really caught on is their own undoing. I'd say this change will be for worse.
Losing "home" part in branding will further distance it from common folks to whom such a server is an optional organizational upgrade rather than plain functional necessity, until its ultimate demise.

windows home server = £40
windows server 2012 essentials = $425

they need to really drop the server price for it to be affordable for home use

Mal1 said,
windows home server = £40
windows server 2012 essentials = $425

they need to really drop the server price for it to be affordable for home use

FreeNAS = FREE

Never understood the hype over WHS.

Mal1 said,
windows home server = £40
windows server 2012 essentials = $425

they need to really drop the server price for it to be affordable for home use

I honestly don't see why a home needs a server unless you are a techy and just want to play around with it. Most SAN devices and routers have all the server features the average to advanced tech home needs. I think that is the real reason MS is dropping it, it just is not a viable product.

I have always felt like MS should provide a legal way for techies to play with their server software at home. Maybe a TechNet Personal Edition at a fraction of the cost. A strongly worded EULA making it just as illegal for business to use as torrent versions should protect their SOHO revenue.

necrosis said,
FreeNAS = FREE

Never understood the hype over WHS.


What a weird comparison.

FreeNAS = storage pooling server with excellent redundancy options and even ZFS capabilities -> solid choice
WHS clearly loses here for me from the spec sheet, but it's more than just a NAS.

I know you can setup a FreeNAS box to do more, but it isn't the core product anymore.
Whatever I'd use to extend FreeNAS with, I can get in similar fashion for Windows non-Server and Server.


Now, this being said, I'll probably get a FreeNAS setup sometime soon, too.
To test drive that system, I might set it up to run for some test files and stuff, see how it works and after a while maybe migrate my storage to that.

I definitely think getting a FreeNAS box would be a huge win for my storage solutions as I'm paranoid about losing data lol

ZFS is where it's at.

GS:mac

Mal1 said,
windows home server = £40
windows server 2012 essentials = $425

they need to really drop the server price for it to be affordable for home use


It's like saying that a Windows license costs $200.
You'll probably buy the hardware with Windows Server essential pre-installed on it instead.

Glassed Silver said,

What a weird comparison.

FreeNAS = storage pooling server with excellent redundancy options and even ZFS capabilities -> solid choice
WHS clearly loses here for me from the spec sheet, but it's more than just a NAS.

I know you can setup a FreeNAS box to do more, but it isn't the core product anymore.
Whatever I'd use to extend FreeNAS with, I can get in similar fashion for Windows non-Server and Server.


Now, this being said, I'll probably get a FreeNAS setup sometime soon, too.
To test drive that system, I might set it up to run for some test files and stuff, see how it works and after a while maybe migrate my storage to that.

I definitely think getting a FreeNAS box would be a huge win for my storage solutions as I'm paranoid about losing data lol

ZFS is where it's at.

GS:mac

its not that bad but don't bother if your network has any windows PCs. Samba is rediculously slow compared to native windows - I used to see speeds of 4OMB/s on FreeNAS with ZFS compared to the 80MB/s to 100MB/s I see now with WHS. It does have a bunch of software features though which I liked and I intend to set up a VM on the same server in the near future.

georgevella said,
its not that bad but don't bother if your network has any windows PCs. Samba is rediculously slow compared to native windows - I used to see speeds of 4OMB/s on FreeNAS with ZFS compared to the 80MB/s to 100MB/s I see now with WHS. It does have a bunch of software features though which I liked and I intend to set up a VM on the same server in the near future.

I'd only use it with Mac OS X and maybe with some Linux installs.
Windows as productivity OS is dead in my household (well on my machines at least).

Did your rig with FreeNAS actually have enough RAM and a solid CPU solution?
ZFS is slow as sh** when run on insufficient hardware.
Really, it can slow you down so much you'll be weeping.

GS:mac

necrosis said,
FreeNAS = FREE

Never understood the hype over WHS.


If you just want a fileserver, fine. But WHS did much more. Bare metal backups/restores of all of the Windows machines on your network, for example.

I still have WHS v1 running and I love it. They crippled 2011 too much so I never looked at "upgrading." Now it's dead and that's sad...

georgevella said,
its not that bad but don't bother if your network has any windows PCs. Samba is rediculously slow compared to native windows - I used to see speeds of 4OMB/s on FreeNAS with ZFS compared to the 80MB/s to 100MB/s I see now with WHS. It does have a bunch of software features though which I liked and I intend to set up a VM on the same server in the near future.

Exactly, that's the only reason why I went with WHS. Samba is just too slow with Windows PC. And until they fix that, my files server will be Windows.

georgevella said,
its not that bad but don't bother if your network has any windows PCs. Samba is rediculously slow compared to native windows - I used to see speeds of 4OMB/s on FreeNAS with ZFS compared to the 80MB/s to 100MB/s I see now with WHS. It does have a bunch of software features though which I liked and I intend to set up a VM on the same server in the near future.

Dont forget to tune your ZFS setup, then you will see an increase in performance. You need to have enough memory 8Gb is ideal, and then tune kernel memory and filesystem (for example http://wiki.freebsd.org/ZFSTuningGuide). You can improve on the defaults. Its wrong to think it will work blazingly fast straight out of the box (and ZFS will always have some overhead by definition anyways), no filesystem/OS does, theyre setup by default to suit the median user.

LiquidCrystalMeth said,

Dont forget to tune your ZFS setup, then you will see an increase in performance. You need to have enough memory 8Gb is ideal, and then tune kernel memory and filesystem (for example http://wiki.freebsd.org/ZFSTuningGuide). You can improve on the defaults. Its wrong to think it will work blazingly fast straight out of the box (and ZFS will always have some overhead by definition anyways), no filesystem/OS does, theyre setup by default to suit the median user.

1) Why mess with a technology set that needs to be optimized, when other solutions provide this optimization automatically.

2) Yes ZFS has overhead, but with NTFS providing as many features as ZFS, especially the heavier ones that are part of the 'overhead' aspect of ZFS, this is NOT a good argument to use in comparison to NTFS performance. It is a good argument on other FS technologies that do not provide as comprehensive list of features and that do not have the same overheads; however. NTFS is what ZFS is trying to be, and the overhead/performance argument doesn't work in this context.

3) ZFS may catch NTFS eventually, but also remember that NTFS is also continually optimized, and with the extensible structure will continue to add functionality beyond ZFS. (As we are seeing with Windows 8.)

4) SAMBA is slow for a lot of reasons that are not network or FS related. Mimicking the functionality of a technology that an OS was designed around providing is hard, and will probably never meet the performance levels of Windows NT. This is especially true when you consider the 'functionality' that SAMBA does not and probably will never have that is also an important part of the Server side features Windows provides with AD and management, etc.

Mal1 said,
windows home server = £40
windows server 2012 essentials = $425

they need to really drop the server price for it to be affordable for home use

Um, the £40 you are referencing is a discounted OEM price....

Server 2012 Essentials OEM pricing will be closer to the WHS pricing than you expect. (Also don't forget the weaker dollar.)

Going off of the 2008 Server pricing, it should be around $199 OEM at the most, and is a more complete product being a full Server product that can do more than just WHS functionality.

I also wouldn't be surprised to see a WHS upgrade price or some form of migration pricing available.

Just for perspective, Windows NT 3.1 through Windows 7 was $199 'upgrade/OEM' for the Professional/Desktop versions, so the Windows 2012 Server prices, especially for small business are a nice reduction, getting the Server costs down to what we were paying for the desktop version for the past 20 years.

Windows NT Server started out 'low' for the time compared to Novell and other competitive products that were insanely expensive, and this helped to bring all Server OS costs down. Over the years the price stagnated, with upper end Server functionality moving up a bit.

So it is good to see prices drop considerably, and set the stage for future Server pricing trends.


PS I just got a response from an inquiry our team put out. I believe the WHS replacement product is Foundation with the NAS/WHS role, which like WHS was OEM only, but still easily obtainable through normal channels, and there may be a path for current WHS owners as well.

So this drops the price to WHS levels or even possibly below.

Edited by thenetavenger, Jul 6 2012, 2:37am :

WHS was awesome. They really did some damage to it with the 2011 release with the drive extender drama. Not sure if I'll migrate it to Windows 8, or this 2012 Essentials.

Windows 8 (unsure of Server 2012) has Storage Spaces, which is just drive extender renamed. I'm sure Server Edition has something similar. Would be silly not to

DarkSim905 said,
Windows 8 (unsure of Server 2012) has Storage Spaces, which is just drive extender renamed. I'm sure Server Edition has something similar. Would be silly not to

So can you take a HDD out of Storage Spaces and read it on another PC?

Problems? I'm simply stating what my server runs and the fact I have never run into WHS in my life, keeping in mind I just turned 18...

Terracotta said,
Problems? I'm simply stating what my server runs and the fact I have never run into WHS in my life, keeping in mind I just turned 18...

Don't bother with him he's just trying to be a jerk

Terracotta said,
I use Windows 7 Ultimate for my file server. Never used Home Server in my life.

I see people dogging on your comment, but you are an example that WHS is not needed for a lot of people, especially when the majority of the features can easily be done on the client/desktop versions of Windows if you know what you are doing.

If you use Win7 Pro/Ultimate clients on your network, you can also use the Offline caching and setup group rules and roaming profiles with security in addition to basic server features.

The only real limitation in the desktop versions is the 10 connection limit, and most home users never go over this.

The desktop version of Windows can be a great HTTP server with IIS, File Server, Print Server, Applications Server, and centralized authentication and management system, and Media Center server, DLNA server, and VM server - and this is just the built in features of Windows desktop. (Add in third party applications and the sky is the limit.)

When used with Offline Files, and moving your user folder locations to the 'Server computer', not only can you have automated access to a shared content, even when away from home or over the internet, but it provides a failsafe backup plan, as the offline files are automatically mirrored on the server computer and all other systems you have setup with your account.

Add in a basic 'backup' schedule that writes to a share on the 'server' system, and you have a powerful network.

The reason people are dismissive is that either they don't realize that all this base functionality is in Windows (desktop) or they do not know how how to use it effectively.


I also haven't used 'Server' at home since the Windows 2003 days, and my 'server' is just a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate. (Pro or Enterprise will also work, and even Home will work for most users.)

Back in the NT4 days, it was nice to have the Server features at home, but with more 'server roles' pushed into the desktop version starting in Win2K, the need for the actual 'server' at home is less needed now.

Servers are for a lot of users and connections demanding a lot, and most home users and even small business never reach this threshold.

I love Windows Server technologies, especially in large scale and corporate environments for the automation and AD features, but in a home few people truly need the extra features or the variation in scheduling and how Server handles requests.


Kudos to you, considering your age, especially. You seem to 'get' things others haven't notice are there or don't realize is possible.

Glassed Silver said,
So there is no more HS, but now people get the same features in Essentials, am I missing something?

Doesn't sound THAT bad.

GS:mac

No, it's not so bad for the enthusiasts that want to continue using the OS. It's a bit of a shame that WHS never took off though because it's a great product and the first version showed a lot of promise. Unfortunately they broke the killer feature when they removed the Drive Extender feature from WHS 2011 but that's now back as Storage Spaces in Windows 8/Server 2012.

Glassed Silver said,
So there is no more HS, but now people get the same features in Essentials, am I missing something?

Doesn't sound THAT bad.

GS:mac

Except when you look at pricing. WHS is way cheaper than Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

sviola said,

Except when you look at pricing. WHS is way cheaper than Windows Server 2012 Essentials.


Ooops, I missed that part.
I thought of "Foundation" when thinking about the price.
Foundation is OEM-only so the OEM-version surely will be rather cheap.

Let's wait for OEM prices of Essentials.
Mostly you only use one server OS with one server rig either way.
Updating the box usually means upgrading the OS, too. (that's what I'd do)

Little off-topic:
Are there any GNU distros that try to do what WHS did?
Appeal to home users, not overcomplicating things for them and offering a solid server package (of course with limited capabilities out of the box)?

Or even better yet, anything BSD-based?

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

Ooops, I missed that part.
I thought of "Foundation" when thinking about the price.
Foundation is OEM-only so the OEM-version surely will be rather cheap.

Let's wait for OEM prices of Essentials.
Mostly you only use one server OS with one server rig either way.
Updating the box usually means upgrading the OS, too. (that's what I'd do)

Little off-topic:
Are there any GNU distros that try to do what WHS did?
Appeal to home users, not overcomplicating things for them and offering a solid server package (of course with limited capabilities out of the box)?

Or even better yet, anything BSD-based?

GS:mac

BSD based? You mean like the SUA in Windows 7? I have a feeling you have NO IDEA what BSD is or what BSD based means.

BSD is a kernel API, not an OS or a kernel technology.

This is the 'con' Apple used by stating that OS X was a MACH/BSD based kernel technology, which it is, but has NOTHING to do with FreeBSD or OpenBSD.

OpenBSD has always been regarded as a strong and secure OS, although its reputation was hit hard a few years ago when it was the constant breach point at agencies and universities.

OpenBSD's security has NOTHING to do with BSD, it is the result of being a tight and controlled OS, the fact it uses BSD is irrelevant to its security.

Asking for a BSD based technology is a bit silly, as I could tell you to just use Windows Home Server or Windows 7 or Windows 2008 R2 server. They have a full BSD subsystem available, but that doesn't give it any 'magical' features or 'super security' like users tend to think BSD implies though Apple's implied lies.


PS Essentials is in the price range of WHS, and is far more functional of a technology in that it brings the new spanning technologies that were 'partially' available in the early versions of WHS.

It also is not limited like WHS was and has other new features to make it easier. It has Cloud integration and a new simplified interface. It also has access to other Windows Server technologies that were not provided with WHS or available on WHS.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a WHS role to make the transition easier.