The end of the road for Windows Home Server?

Just read about the changes to the Windows Home Server on my Kindle via Ars Technica.

Microsoft’s Windows Home Server is a funny little product. The company’s ambition when developing the product was to have us all run little home servers: small, low-power, appliance-like machines with some network connectivity and gobs of storage. We’d use these home servers as a place to back up our PCs, share files and printers across our home networks, stream media to our Xboxes, and gain remote access to our files when away from home.

In practice, most of these things can be done perfectly well with a normal desktop version of Windows. Windows Home Server does have some advantages—it had a management front-end that let the server be easily controlled remotely, and it is based on Windows Server 2003 to slim down its own hardware demands—but for the most part, it isn’t doing anything too unusual. As a result, Windows Home Server has remained a niche product. Much loved by its users, but never really making it as a mass-market success.

It does, however, have one special feature, a feature without any real equivalent in any other version of Windows, whether for desktop or for server. That feature is called Drive Extender. Conceptually, Drive Extender is quite simple: it allows multiple hard disks (regardless of interface or size) to be aggregated to provide a single large pool of storage. Folders on the pooled storage could also be selectively replicated, meaning that Drive Extender would ensure that copies of the files were found on multiple physical disks.

It goes on to say HP (one of the biggest supporters of WHS) will no longer be supporting WHS, instead they will be developing there own WebOS.

Engadget is reporting that many of the HP staff previously working on MediaSmart have been redeployed to focus on webOS devices, though any direct webOS-powered equivalent to the MediaSmart systems seems unlikely.

So much for Microsoft Windows Home Server… I got a feeling it was released too early and I do stand by the idea that most people will have a Home Server in there home in the very near future, even with the deluge of online backup services and streaming services.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.