Windows Home Server

January 17, 2007 § 2 Comments

Microsoft is entering the Home Server market this Fall, and boy is it going to be good. The new product named Windows Home Server (for now) is a machine like the personal computer without the connections for monitor, keyboard and mouse (such devices are called headless computers). So how do you control this device? First off you connect this device to your home network, it does not have to be infront of you, you can throw it in your basement if you want, and control it using one of the other computers in your house. The device has the following features:

  • Automatic backup of all devices connected to your home network. The algorithm used to backup is pretty optimized. If you have 10 PCs and all 10 have the same foo.jpg, it will only backup one file. If one of the files with the same name was slightly different in content, it will back it up separately. This backup strategy along with a new compression technology according to Microsoft studies with some users results in 15 TB data being reduced to 300GB. The fact that you don’t have to worry about backups itself pays off for the device.
  • What if the HDD on this machine dies? Microsoft expects you to have multiple HDDs on this device and has created a variant of the RAID system which would mirror data, such that even if one HDD fails you can still recover your data. The more number of smaller HDDs the better. The reason why they wrote their own variant of RAID is because RAID needs drive letters to work with, whereas Windows Home Server treats all HDDs as one big drive pool. It does not have any drive letter. In fact if you could just plug in more internal or external HDDs and Home Server will automatically add that device to the drive pool.
  • In addition since we have so much HDD space it is best suited as a File Server. You can store all your media and non media related content on this device and use it to stream media to any other device like XBox 360 or Media Center PC on your network. How cool is that.
  • The device also constantly monitors the health of all the machines on your network and indicates it to you when one of the machines has a problem. At this point it only monitors health, but I see this feature extended to where you can apply patches and anti-virus u pdates to all machines from this one device.   
  • As I mentioned about the management of this device can be done by any PC on your network. You need to install a small software (not sure if you need to install it on each and every device) and use an application that has just 4 tabs to configure the box. For the geeks out there, they can remote in to the box and get the familiar start menu and work around the OS. For everyone else Microsoft has tried to keep it very very simple.
  • Finally the codebase for this new OS is based on Windows Server 2003, so it includes a webserver for anyone wanting to host their own website. You can also connect to any machine on your network using the Home Server.


How much is it going to cost? Microsoft isn’t saying much except for a device that was previewed at CES by HP which had 300GB HDD was priced at $500 – $600. Microsoft will also be selling the OS by itself so you can install it on that old (so far) good for nothing box of yours after adding a couple of big HDDs.

Credits: Paul Thurrott, Channel 10


§ 2 Responses to Windows Home Server

  • Vaibhav says:

    I don’t know of any limitation on the number of computers. As of now there is no limitation, but the product is still a good 8-10 months away, so we never know what limitations Microsoft will put in place. I think it will be really good for small business. Microsoft already has a Small Business Server and is working on improving it, although we would only see it in 2008.

  • Vaibhav says:

    Question: how many maximum computers can it support?  It will be good for small business too if it can support a lot of computers.

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