Windows Home Server "Vail" Release Candidate available

Late last year, Microsoft "shot themselves in the foot" when they removed Drive Extender from their Windows Home Server and Small Business Server products, apparently due to "compatibility issues" when the company merged the two products together. Liveside reports that Microsoft has today made available the Windows Home Server Release Candidate.

Microsoft has tried to relieve the pressure since Drive Extender was removed late last year, and has added two new features; a "format my harddrive" and "move my folder" wizard. The wizards are designed to make it easier than manually adding a hard drive to a computer would be. The server product now prompts you through the "server health" notification area to let you know when a new drive is installed, and offers the wizards to assist the user.

Obviously this isn't a replacement for Drive Extender, but it's still a step in the right direction. Other than this, as far as we know, the update doesn't bring anything new to the table in terms of features, instead, just a large amount of bug fixes before the code is made RTM.

The release candidates are available for download from Microsoft Connect now. Windows Home Server and Small Business Server 2011 are expected to be available for purchase in late 2011.

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Ytterbium said,
If WHS is a flop because people don't like the features the WHS v3 will be back with fixes for the issues people care about, assuming MS has a comitment to the product.

Surely Win7 vs Vista is an example of this?


OR they cancel a product after they find out that a badly designed version doesn't sell well…

Bad analogy, MS could not afford for their Windows desktop OS to fail. WHS is small and isolated enough for MS to be able to abandon it if they feel like it.

MFH said,

OR they once again cancel a good product because they can't figure out why it didn't sell well…

It's probably because for normal home users WHS is overkill. There's really nothing that WHS would offer these users that would both be be worth the expense and isn't already offered by the media and backup technologies in Windows 7.

lordcanti86 said,

It's probably because for normal home users WHS is overkill. There's really nothing that WHS would offer these users that would both be be worth the expense and isn't already offered by the media and backup technologies in Windows 7.

If it's an overkill, why did they ever come up with it? And the backup technologies in Win7 are not that great compared to the ones of WHS.
BTW: sorry for tripple-post, bad connection…

MFH said,

If it's an overkill, why did they ever come up with it? And the backup technologies in Win7 are not that great compared to the ones of WHS.
BTW: sorry for tripple-post, bad connection…

Agreed, Win7 backup and restore is nice and it works, but it is far from ideal. Many households have more than one computer and backup is not a priority for most. With WHS, you can just do the initial setup and pretty much forget about it, which is helpful with laptops because it can backup without having to plug into a router.

Seems like the only people who would be interested in something like WHS are IT professionals who don't know how to leave their work at work.

Shadrack said,
Seems like the only people who would be interested in something like WHS are IT professionals who don't know how to leave their work at work.

Oh no it's the people that don't want to care about RAID and equally sized drives and all that stuff at home that use WHS…

Shadrack said,
Seems like the only people who would be interested in something like WHS are IT professionals who don't know how to leave their work at work.

Actually, if the average consumer knew the capabilities of WHS (especially those who have experienced a system failure and lost data) they would be more interested. It's another product of Microsoft's that the target (or should be target) audience doesn't know about.

Shadrack said,
Seems like the only people who would be interested in something like WHS are IT professionals who don't know how to leave their work at work.

yeah I've had the HP WHS since Dec. 08 and I love that box. Definately one of the best products that MS has come out with in the last 5 years easily. MS just never advertises it or anything.

I have an HP EX487 that won't be "upgrading". Without Drive Extender and Folder Duplication what exactly is this? There is no compelling reason to downgrade. "Move Folder" feature? You mean Ctrl+X, Ctrl+V?

lflashl said,
Was looking at buying this but after the removal off the features I think I'll look at freenas

Take a look at Amahi, they are using Greyhole which is a "Drive Extender for Linux"…

Windows Home Server and Small Business Server 2011 are expected to be available for purchase in late 2011.

As far as I know, SBS2011 has already been released over a month ago. At least, it's on technet and it looks like a final build to me: en_install_disc_windows_small_business_server_2011_standard_x64_dvd_611535.iso
I've installed it in a VM and I didn't see the word beta anywhere.

RuuddieBoy said,

As far as I know, SBS2011 has already been released over a month ago. At least, it's on technet and it looks like a final build to me: en_install_disc_windows_small_business_server_2011_standard_x64_dvd_611535.iso
I've installed it in a VM and I didn't see the word beta anywhere.

The version available in Technet is SBS 2011 Standard. The one coming out on 1st Half 2011 is SBS Essentials, which includes Client backup functionality and basic file and print sharing. No Exchange, Sharepoint or WSUS. It is also licensed for 25 PC's Maximum and it is licensed per server, no CALS needed. For more info you may go to:

http://www.microsoft.com/sbs/en/us/compare-features.aspx

On the comments concerning computer backup: Are they removing the computer backup component in favor of the Win7 backup? DE is one thing, but with 6 active PC's in my house I consider the backup to be one of it's best features, it's pulled me out of the fire more than once in fact. I was actually quite surprised they never (pardon the pun) extended that feature to the enterprise customers.

I'm gonna go against the grain here...

Since Drive Extender is no longer included...does that mean that it'll no longer put some of your data files on the OS drive, which was my biggest gripe with WHS?

For years I've been using a backup scheme that works well for me--my OS is on a small drive, and my data is on a completely separate (physical) secondary drive. I have a pair of these data drives, which I rotate offsite (ie, I bring one of the drives at the office for two weeks).

Since (as far as I can remember) there's no way to prevent Drive Extender from writing data files to the OS drive, this didn't work for me--since my data was getting spread across multiple drives.

I fully expect "you're doing it wrong" type of responses from this, but really--this scheme has worked well for me for years (longer than WHS has existed), so my question is, what benefit have I missed out with Drive Extender?

Has anyone succeeded in installing in a VM? I've tried VirtualBox, VMWare Workstation, and Virtual PC, all current releases, on an i7 with 8GB RAM and plenty of disk space free. None of them will install it. I get an error in the install before it does much of anything, but the error doesn't tell me anything.

SoCalRox said,
Has anyone succeeded in installing in a VM? I've tried VirtualBox, VMWare Workstation, and Virtual PC, all current releases, on an i7 with 8GB RAM and plenty of disk space free. None of them will install it. I get an error in the install before it does much of anything, but the error doesn't tell me anything.

I was able to install it on a VM without problems. Three things to check:

1. Check the MD5/SHA5 signature in the Connect Site with the downloaded .iso. Even if you used the MFT Manager to download the files. It has happenned to me, especially with Windows 2008 R2 ISOs, that the media will boot fine and start the installation only to fail in the middle of it. When I did the hash verification it turns out I had a corrupted ISO. It took me 4 downloads to get it uncorrupted.

2. Make sure you are configuring the VM as a 64bit VM and use more than 160GB for your .VHD

3. Do not use the "Easy Install" when configuring the VM. VMWare does not recognizes WHS as an operating system and will try to install as a regular Windows Server 2008 R2, which will fail.

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