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OneCare and Windows Home Server playing nice together.
I have been having problems with Windows Live OneCare not updating on my Vista PC over the past day or so (no doubt due to the issues I mentioned before). LINK Whilst trying to resolve the issue using all the various steps and tools available I came across the following message that I have not seen before:

OneCare + WHS backup
I don't know when OneCare was updated to detect the presence of Windows Home Server but it's great that it has. Is it a release feature or just in beta? I must check.
I ask as the Onecare product page says the following:
OneCare + WHS not compatible
Better integration between WHS and other apps (including OneCare) was among the list of things I would like to see in WHS v2 but it looks like a quiet update to OneCare is the quicker and easier option.
UPDATE: just goes to show that I've not had to change my settings in a while - see KB942676
Conserving power in a multi-PC household.
Now that the Home Server is up and running that means I have 3 PCs on 24/7 - not good for the electricity bill or the environment.
A Windows Home Server performs a lot of regular tasks such as disk checking and data balancing and it is not therefore viable to have it sleep for any given period as it will always wake itself up.
The server is on 24/7 as it hosts the blog and my Exchange Server - obviously downtime here is not desirable. I suppose I could offload my blog to a site such as Blogger and get a hosted Exchange account so that there was no need for the server to even be there but then I lose the element of control and also the learning factor of actually doing it all myself and, perhaps more importantly, trying to fix it when it goes wrong.
So, the only option is the normal desktop PC but how do we rationalise this with the WHS wanting to do an automatic backup over night?
The default time frame WHS uses for backups is 00:00 to 06:00 giving plenty of scope. Now, I'm currently only backing up the C drive so the backup time required is a lot less. I have therefore changed the backup period to 11:00 to 02:00.
WHS backup period
Next, I have disabled hibernation on the desktop; the PC recovers faster from sleep than hibernation and it is easier to just move the mouse rather than have to turn the PC back on by the power button. You can disable hibernation on a Vista PC by typing "powercfg -H off" at an elevated command (without the quotes) - you can always do powercfg -H on if you need to later.
It is possible to tell Vista to go in to sleep or hibernation from the command line using the following command:
 - rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState
If hibernation is enabled the above command will trigger that, if it is disabled then it will trigger sleep instead.
I have put this command in to a batch file and then set up a scheduled task to run at 02:05 every day giving WHS backup a chance to complete. Simply create a basic task in Task Scheduler which runs your batch file.
Scheduled job
It's not much but it all helps and I may even be able to reduce the length of the backup period if I keep an eye on how long it takes to actually perform my backups.
Will Home Servers be a success?

Bill Gates surmised at CES that Home Servers will be in millions of homes in the near future but how realistic is that?


There is no question that WHS has caught the imagination of the tech community and OEMs since it was announced at CES in 2007 but what about the public?


As I have said before will Joe Public be willing to spend money on a new computer that is designed to just sit there (unless you need it of course) or will they opt for a "perceived" easier solution of an external hard drive or a NAS set up?


Microsoft have the "Stay at home server" campaign running in the US but I'm not sure how comprehensive that is - it's certainly getting some exposure at CES. I'm just worried that the marketing will go the same way as Tablet PCs and UMPCs which were, let's be honest, abject failures on the marketing front.


The one advantage that Windows Home Server has is that it is a consumer targeted device and should, therefore, be a lot easier to sell to the public but nothing can be taken for granted.


The marketing for WHS needs to be widespread and comprehensive, really extolling it's virtues over the other options noted above. Yes, an external hard drive is cheap but it doesn't offer automated backups with remote access or an easy way to restore your PC should the need arise.


Windows Home Server has the capacity and flexibility to make it a success but what will really be the driving factor is how well it can be sold.

Windows Home Server add-ins.
Now that the server is all up to date, configured and accessible the next thing is to have a look at what add-ins I can use to enhance the functionality of the server.
The best place to get them? That's obvious: the add-ins page at We Got Served of course, well it is the page linked to by the official .
One particular add-in I've always found useful through the beta is the "On the fly unzipper" which let's you upload one zipped up file instead of a whole bunch. It then unzips them on the server for you. How cool is that?
There are a number of add-ins which really don't add anything to my specific environment (as I have the normal server sat here as well) such as Whiist which easily let's you create new websites on your server but they are just not things I need.
One add-in, however, that I could make good use of appears to be Home Base - a combined server/client setup which let's you access files from a Windows Mobile device, something that is less than desirable via the web UI.
WHS add-ins come in the form of an msi package which you upload to the /Software/Addins shared folder on your server. They then appear as available for use via the Home Server console
Available add-ins
The Home Base add-in also includes the ability to host a blog on the server using an SQL database but, again, this is not something I need so I don't have to install that part of it.
Home Base may not be quick but it does at least give a workable, native interface to give me access to the files on my server when on the road.
These are the only two add-ins that I feel I can make good use of at present but I urge you to check out the rest of the list as you may be able to employ others with your set up.
WHS how to: change the port your certificate applies to.
If you have changed the SSL port your WHS web site uses then you may also like to change your security certificate to apply to that port as it will apply to the standard HTTPS port 443 by default.
To start with you will need to open Internet Information Services on the Home Server so go to Start | Run and type c:\windows\system32\inetsrv\iis.msc and hit OK.
Expand Web Sites in the left panel and right click Default Web Site - go to properties. You will then need to select the Directory Security tab and click the Server Certificate button
Server Certificate
Click next past the Web Server Certificate Wizard info page and then choose to export the current certificate
Export Certificate
Choose a location to save your certificate and you will be asked to enter a password and confirm it
Choose path
You will then get a chance to confirm all the details before clicking Next to actually do the export
Confirm details
Next, click on the Server Certificate button again and this time choose to delete the current certificate
Delete certificate
Once done, again go back to Server Certificate and now choose to import
Import certificate
As expected you are asked to select the certificate to import. On this page you will also have the option to mark the certificate as exportable should you want to re-export it again. Providing you keep the file you exported in the first instance you should not need to as you can re-import the original file again.
Choose certificate
You will next be asked to enter the port number that you wish to apply the certificate to so enter the one you have configured the site to use (in my case it is port 563)
SSL Port
Enter the password you used to export the certificate, click next to confirm the details and you're done with your trusted certificate now applied to the correct port.
WHS - post install and remote access.
The WHS install finished without incident (it took quite a while due to the minimum spec hardware it is installed on but) and before any configuration was to be done I activated the server and hit Windows Update to pull down anything needed.
The one WHS specific update listed was KB941914 which gives the server a trusted certificate when you register your personalised domain.
The WHS team did say that beta testers would get first choice on their old addresses and it was reassuring to see that popped up by default after logging in with my Live ID.
The certificate was installed and, just for the sake of completeness, was provided by who are a big name in URL registrations and hosting etc. in the US
WHS Certificate
With the updates completed and the server rebooted the next step was to set up remote access correctly for my environment. As WHS uses ports 80 and 443 for web access something has to change as these ports are already in use by the Blog and Outlook Web Access on my network. As such I set the WHS web site to use SSL port 563 (normally used by NNTPS) so that it could be redirected straight from the router.
Important: remember to add any extra ports as exclusions in the Windows Firewall on your server or you won't get very far.
The port change threw up an immediate problem: trying to browse the root of the WHS website would fail - it would not correctly redirect to Home/Default.aspx which is the normal home page. Browsing to the Home directory directly worked fine but the redirect would only happen if the web site was set to use port 443.
The way round this is to instead add 563 as an additional SSL port rather than the default one:
Extra SSL port
I can therefore access the server externally by the address - the extra port is a small price to pay for the connectivity it offers. I have also set up a redirection website on my main server so that it will pass me to the WHS site if I just go to - it's nice to have that flexibility.
The one thing changing the port does, however, is it breaks your automatic checks for remote access so the server cannot tell you by itself if everything is working correctly. This is not a big issue as I can check that myself
Router config
The other immediate change made was to set the default WHS home page as the logon page - this saves having to hit the logon button each time I visit the site
WHS Home Page
One thing I have noticed, and I presume it is due to having the RC build of Vista SP1 installed, is that the Operating System version of my main Vista box is not detected correctly:
OS type issue
I will bug this but I'm sure that it's an oversight with the SP1 beta.
I have also enabled media sharing from the WHS so that I can stream media directly to other devices. This adds an extra reference to the server on your network by way of a Media Connect listing so that any device which supports Windows Media Connect (Windows Media Player for example) can access it directly
WHS Media Connect
Installing the Windows Home Server DVD.
The first choice was whether to do a "Server Reinstallation" and upgrade from the RC build or do a "New Installation" an start from scratch - wiping everything from all drives.
There wasn't really any choice here - it was a new installation all the way. The backups taken under the beta are out of date as they were all taken prior to the hardware failure and subsequent re-activation of Vista. As far as the data side of things goes I never had anything solely on the server so nothing would be lost by doing a complete wipe.
The server is happily installing as I type so expect more updates later as things progress.
Windows Home Server software arrived early.
The Windows Home Server OEM pack arrived today two days early which can't be bad. Needless to say that I'll be getting this install over the next day or two.
The actual OEM pack itself is quite bland giving all the usual OEM info such as that the software can only be distributed with a PC and that the builder is responsible for all end user support. Well, luckily that's me so no worries there.
Inside the pack comes an OEM Preinstallation Kit (but that doesn't have to be used to servers anyway), installation instructions for system builders and the software itself (the 3 disks) with a getting started guide
OEM Pack contents
Watch out for all the good stuff to come as I build my RTM system, get the network configured and then install updates and choose which add-ins I want to employ.
Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 announced.
Terry over at We Got Served has got loads of information on the newly announced (see the press release) Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 - a minor release for Windows Home Server which adds great new functionality some might say was missing from the original release.
Key among the features offered by the Power Pack will be:
  • support for Windows Vista 64 bit PCs - it was a real shame that they couldn't get this in the RTM version but perhaps it wasn't felt that 64 bit was mainstream enough to worry about
  • better remote access functionality including a new thumbnail view, and drag and drop upload functionality
  • external backup so that you can back up your WHS itself rather than just your data
  • better power management so we can all be a bit greener
This is due to hit some time during the first half of 2008 you can get the lowdown from We Got Served at the following links:
What are you waiting for? Oh, that's right PP1 to actually be made available ;)
Just ordered RTM copy of Windows Home Server.
I just finally got round to ordering an RTM copy of Windows Home Server from ebuyer: £84.84 (including VAT) with free delivery is you opt for the 5 day delivery time (I'm in no rush).
I'll still be using the hardware that I had the beta installed on; with a 1GHz PIII and 512MB of RAM it's minimum spec but it works fine and I've not had any problems with performance.
The software will arrive by the 10th Jan so I'll have a little project to get on with which I will blog about. I will be performing a completely clean install rather than upgrading from the beta as there is no data that I need to retain and the backups are no longer valid (they pre-date the hardware failure).
As part of the experience I will be blogging about the addins I decide to install, any third party software used and the paths which lead me to make these decisions. I will also re-iterate how I will enable external access through the router seeing as ports 80 and 443 are already being used by the blog and Exchange.
More on the Windows Home Server corruption bug.
Ed Bott over at ZDNet has posted a good deal more information about the data corruption bug affecting certain data types on Windows Home server.
To quote what Ed got from a senior member of the WHS team:
"This is not an issue that affects every Windows Home Server installation, and the symptoms require several factors that are not mentioned in the KB article. The largest contributing factor is when a home server is under extreme load. If you’re doing a large, highly demanding file copy operation in the background and you’re using one of the listed applications to edit a file that’s stored on a shared folder on the home server, and you save the edited file to the server, then you might see this bug."
The good news is that the issue "affects only files that are saved directly from one of the listed applications to a shared folder on a Windows Home Server" so normal backups etc are unaffected.
I have been a bit lax in setting up an RTM system so far but now that normal backups are confirmed that'll be a project for the new year.
2007, the year in review: October - December.
Also see: January - March, April - June, July - September.
2007 has been a very mixed year for me with some very good times tempered with some dire times and a string of bad luck for the family. I am going to be running a series of posts looking back at the last 12 months from a tech Perspective and a personal one. I'll be looking at the things I consider to be the most important developments in the tech world as I have covered it.
As mentioned before, I had to remove beta 1 of Vista SP1 from my PC due to issues but we soon had the first build of Windows XP SP3 to keep us occupied.
Acer bought rival OEM Gateway in October and I immediately wondered what impact that would have on Gateway's line of Tablet PCs seeing as Acer had already axed their own previously. Luckily, things turned out okay with some Tablets being retained and others now being sold by MPCCorp.
The Queen described 1992 as an "annus horribilis" in her speech that year, well November was our bad month. Chloe developed Meningococcal Septicaemia and ended up in hospital on a course of intravenous antibiotics. Things were touch and go and if we had delayed any longer it could have gone in to full blown meningitis. We were all deemed at risk until a second round of blood tests came back negative. We were given the all clear but 10 days later we were involved in a car accident when a woman lost control the other way and hit us head on. Luckily no-one was injured too badly - bruising, whiplash and a good dose of shock all round. They say bad things happen in threes: our third thing was the main desktop PC dying and needing the motherboard, CPU, memory and graphics card replaced - wonderful!
As expected, the iPhone came to the UK on November 9th which prompted me to run a series of posts called "2G for a day" in which I turned off my high speed connection on the phone to see what difference only having GPRS would make - not as much as you would imagine.
On the beta front Vista SP1 hit a Release Candidate Preview build and Windows Messenger 9 was released to testers but then leaked within 48 hours.
One positive thing to come out of November was for me to reach my 4th anniversary blogging. The blog has been through a number of incarnations and most of the posts before June 2006 no longer exist on the web, although I have recreated the most common old items elsewhere on the site.
The PC failure meant I had to reactivate Vista and I then started experiencing a number of issues with Vista SP1 but I originally put these down to the hardware issues I had experienced.  It wasn't until a lot of other people starting reporting the same problems that I realised the issue was actually with the SP1 RC Preview build AND the actual RC build itself. Bugs were being closed on Connect as "won't fix" without any explanation so I posted about the issues and accused Microsoft of sweeping the problems under the carpet. It turns out that the RC builds were causing problems with activation so Vista was entering "Reduced Functionality Mode" despite Microsoft saying that this would be removed from SP1 - obviously not yet.
In December Dell finally entered the Tablet PC arena but were immediately slated for releasing a product which was far too expensive. They're response? We're dearer because we're better - hmmmmm.
HTC announced that the long suffering Shift would be delayed further with mixed reports as to why (software, hardware, battery life) causing people to cancel their pre-orders in the fear that the Shift may never see the light of day or, when it does, be obsolete. Let's see what UMPCs come out of CES 2008. Problems also confronted Windows Home Server with reports that certain types of files were corrupted when stored on a WHS machine - defeats the purpose when you have to take a separate backup as your backup solution doesn't work properly.
Aside from all of this December was unfortunately dominated by the tragic loss of Marc Orchant who died a week after suffering a massive heart attack and never regaining consciousness. Marc had a big impact on anyone who came in to contact with hmi and is a big loss to the tech community and the world at large. Rest in peace, Marc.
2007, the year in review: July - September.
Also see: January - March, April - June, October - December.
2007 has been a very mixed year for me with some very Good times tempered with some dire times and a string of bad luck for the family. I am going to be running a series of posts looking back at the last 12 months from a tech Perspective and a personal one. I'll be looking at the things I consider to be the most important developments in the tech world as I have covered it.
Looking back, July seems to have been a quiet month. There was our wedding anniversary, my birthday and the day that the Tour de France came to town. This was a great day when the community came together for a party - it's a shame that life Isn't like that more often.
July did see the start of the Windows Live OneCare v2 Beta which introduced some great new functionality (I'm still using this as my anti-virus/anti-spyware solution now).
The big tech news was that Windows Home Server RTM'ed - it was great fun testing it and it's a real shame there are now some concerns over it's reliability.
August gave us the Performance and Reliability patches for Windows Vista which gave us a number of improvements to Microsofts' much maligned flagship. These were very well Received and did actually make a difference to how Vista runs - can't be bad.
On a work note I left the site I had been working at for Nearly two and a half years as I felt it was time to move on and things had stagnated. That's the one good thing about working for an outsourcing company - you can move Between clients without having to get a new job.
Now that Windows Home Server had RTM we could all look forward to what offerings the OEMs would have to tempt us But some initial offerings failed to excite. I remarked that Some OEMs seemed to be forgetting what WHS was all about - reliable backup and storage. When you have multiple hard drives installed in WHS you can enable folder duplication Which mirrors your data accross these drives thus adding Redundancy. Some OEMs, however, were shipping units with only one drive - pointless if you ask me.
The end of August finally saw the announcement of the eagerly anticipated Windows Vista SP1 beta and my invite duly turned up. Microsoft changed the way they worked with Vista, putting out more updates via Windows Update rather than have customers waiting for the next Service Pack but businesses especially don't buy it and are still adopting the "don't touch it until SP1" stance.
A backlash against the HTC Shift started in September. What everyone initially thought of as the perfect UMPC started showing it's true colours causing a lot of potential buyers to rethink their position.
It was announced later in the month that the iPhone would be coming to the UK on November 9th with a nice hefty price tag and a minimum 18 month contract but still without 3G. It was bound to sell in reasonable numbers regardless but Apple's insistence on full control leaves a sour taste in the mouth in a country where we are used to a lot of freedom when it comes to our mobile phones.
Beta 1 of Vista SP1 finally hit in September but had to be removed very shortly afterwards due to a few show stopper bugs including not being able to connect my Windows Mobile device.
Fourth quarter to follow.
2007, the year in review: April - June.
Also see: January - March, July - September, October - December.
2007 has been a very mixed year for me with some very good times tempered with some dire times and a string of bad luck for the family. I am going to be running a series of posts looking back at the last 12 months from a tech perspective and a personal one. I'll be looking at the things I consider to be the most important developments in the tech world as I have covered it.
April saw more Windows Home Server goodness with a CTP build. Ed Bott over at ZDNet wrote a really good overview of what WHS does which is still worth checking out now.
The best news in April, however, that my article entitled "Microsoft: Fried or Foe" was published in Micro Mart magazine - you can read it here if you've not seen it. The article garnered some mixed responses on the Micro Mart forums but I was generally accused of being a Microsoft fanboy due to my view that MS have been treated unfairly at times just because of who they are. The article was called a "gag inducing ode to Bill" and that it essentially said Microsoft = good and Mac = bad - not the case at all. At least I achieve my goal in getting a conversation started.
May saw Tabby (my old Acer Tablet PC) come home to roost after spending a long time with my father in law and, while we're on the subject of Tablets, Dell finally announced that they were going to be releasing a Tablet PC. Despite Dell being perhaps the most recognisable consumer brand of PCs they were determined to focus on education, healthcare and business - I feel they really missed the mark. 
June came and went with the new TouchFLO interface from HTC and the release candidate of Windows Home Server while I introduced a new feature on the blog: posts called "From the front line" where I would relay specific issues working in the IT industry and resolutions where appropriate.
And then came June 29th - iPhone day. Will the iPhone change the world?
Third quarter to follow.
2007, the year in review: January - March.
Also see: April - June, July - September, October - December.
2007 has been a very mixed year for me with some very good times tempered with some dire times and a string of bad luck for the family. I am going to be running a series of posts looking back at the last 12 months from a tech perspective and a personal one. I'll be looking at the things I consider to be the most important developments in the tech world as I have covered it.
Let's get started with the first quarter:
January saw me open the year with my "open letter to Micrsoft" which was a plea for MS to lead the way in the UK and actually try to get technology to the masses. UK tech adoption always seems stunted - we don't have the major OEMs with a presence here, there are no opportunities to get hands on with new devices etc. - so I thought that MS would be in a perfect position to start partnering with OEMs or even retailers to get the technology out there by way of road shows, demos, decent retail opportunities etc. Some great products have come our way from the MS stable (Tablet PCs, UMPCs, and now Windows Home Server) but even the best products fall flat without the marketing to support them and this was sorely lacking, and still is.
January was also dominated by CES and MacWorld with two big announcements. Firstly, Windows Home Server was officially announced and got a lot of people (myself included) very excited about what was to come. Next, however, came the big one - the story that took over the web: Steve Jobs revealed the iPhone at MacWorld and I ran some initial thoughts about the device.
We also saw a report from Forrester Research giving details that companies were finding the move to Office 2007 harder than expected and having to invest in more training for the new "Fluid Ui" than first thought. Around the same time we caught a first glimpse of an add-in being developed internally at Microsoft called "Scout" which would help users migrate to the new UI but this failed to materialise. A big shame.
The start of the year witnessed an explosion in the Vista/Lexmark saga that began at the end of 2006. The issues that I, and many others, experienced with Lexmark printers drivers on Windows Vista were indicative of the problems faced by many when OEMs did not do a good enough - or quick enough - job of getting their drivers out of the door in time for Vista to go RTM. In my case there were repeated delays in releasing a driver for my printer and when they finally did materialise they wouldn't work. Not only that but an uninstall utility from lexmark trashed my system! Lexmark printer driver issues on Vista are probably the single biggest reason people find my blog in search engines.
January ended on a low note, on the 30th we were burgled and had our keys, wallet/purse stolen which meant we had to cancel cards etc. and get the locks changed on the car so that the thieves couldn't come back and steal it. This coincided with the RTM launch of Windows Vista which meant I obviously had far more important things on my mind than blogging about the launch of the new OS from Microsoft.
After the Vista launch the tech press was full of "should you, shouldn't you" articles which all seemed to be saying the same thing: that it just wasn't worth the upgrade yet. One particular magazine which caught my eye was Micro Mart here in the UK running the cover story "Is this 2007's most pointless upgrade?" I blogged a knee jerk reaction not having read the actual article (bad form I know) but felt incensed that customers would get a wrong impression. In response to my post I was contacted by the editor of Micro Mart about writing a piece for them so it all worked out okay in the end.
February included the beginning of the Windows Home Server beta program on Connect. I was lucky enough to have been contacted when it was invite only but the program was opened up and people registered in their thousands - 40,000 by the end of Feb to be exact, with 10,000 invites being sent.
I finished my article for Micro Mart and now just had to wait for it to be published but March was HTC Shift month. The news about HTC's UMPC offering was everywhere and, having both Vista and Windows Mobile 6 on board, really captured the imagination. The Windows Mobile 6 side of things turned out to be a cut down offering called SnapVUE and there are concerns over battery life - even now the device still hasn't made it to production.
Second quarter to follow.
Opinion: back up your backups before you back them up...
KB article 946676 has got everybody talking: using Windows Home Server to back up certain types of files appears to corrupt them - so much for a reliable backup solution!
Earlier this year I was writing an article for a magazine entitled "What is Windows Home Server and why do you need it?" which unfortunately didn't get finished due to Chloe's illness and the car accident. The article covered the functionality of WHS and the benefits it would provide but, based on this latest news, the "why do you need it" part of the article is a bit hard to justify.
The KB article states "Make sure that you have a backup copy of any important program files before you store these files on a system that is running Windows Home Server" sorry, but isn't that the whole point of the Home Server itself: to provide automated backups which enable you to recover an entire PC or individual files from any of your available backups?
This is not an issue that I came across or even heard of during the beta program so is it something that has been intoduced by one of the updates to the RTM code? (September or November) Is it something that has started occurring due to people having RTM copies and starting to install third party applications which, perhaps, don't play nicely with the drive extender technology in WHS?
Yes, all new operating systems have bugs (you cannot factor out all possibilities and combinations) but for a core feature to break this is extremely worrying.
Windows Home Server Toolkit available for download.
Hot on the heels of the September update Microsoft have now released the Windows Home Server toolkit which is "a collection of tools that help you troubleshoot issues with Windows Home Server".
It includes the following components:
Error Reporting
The Error Reporting tool collects log files from your home computer and sends them to Microsoft. These log files are useful to Microsoft Support when troubleshooting problems you may encounter with Windows Home Server.
Windows Home Server Connector Troubleshooter
The Windows Home Server Connector Troubleshooter is a program that runs on your home computer to help troubleshoot problems you may encounter while installing the Connector software. The Connector Troubleshooter runs a series of tests to check the most common Connector Setup problems, and then it recommends possible solutions.
Windows Home Server Toolkit Add-in
You can also use the Troubleshooter to install a Windows Home Server Toolkit Add-in on your home server. With this Add-in, you can run troubleshooting tasks from the Windows Home Server Console Settings page.
You can download the toolkit here: Windows Home Server Toolkit v1.
Philip has some more information about this over at the MSWHS blog.
Windows Home Server to get even better.
A post on the Windows Home Server blog reveals that since WHS went RTM they have "identified a number of ways to make the product even better".
An update is due to be released in September which will "enhance the usability and improve the out-of-the-box experience of home server solutions". Sounds good.
HP had to delay the launch of their MediaSmart Server amidst rumours that their added software was too complicated and didn't fit in with the ease of use of WHS. As such they have announced that they will be including the new enhancements out of the box in their solutions.
For existing systems, the enhancements are due to be released via Windows Update.
We Got Served to run Q&A with the WHS team.
Are there any questions that you're just dying to have answered by the Windows Home Server team? Well, now's your chance. Terry over at We Got Served has announced an exclusive Q&A with the WHS team and is asking the WHS community (us lot) to post questions they would like asked.
There are no guarantees which questions will be asked/get answers so you will need to make them as interesting and thought provoking as possible.
I've already posted a question so head on over to Terry's post and leave your question in a comment.
A busy time.
Between tiling the bathroom over the long weekend and starting at a new site today things have been a bit hectic - hence the lack of posts.
I'll try to catch up tomorrow but in the meantime here's a few things that have caught my eye:
HTC officially announce the Tytn II (Kaiser).
Michael Gartenberg agrees about WHS marketing.
Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research agrees that Windows Home Server needs to be marketed correctly in order for it to be the successful product that it should be.
In his post he states:
"The message is mixed. Is this about NAS? Backup? Remote Access? Nope, it's all of the above. It's going to be a challenge to get the message out about this. Where does this go in the retail channel? next to PCs? In the storage aisle? the networking aisle?"
His conclusion is that it should definitely go next to the PCs. Let's face it, it's meant for HOME users - hence the name - and the average home user is only concerned about their PC and don't want any further complication.
Just as with Tablet PCs and UMPCs, Michael recognises that for marketing to be successful it MUST be a joint operation between Microsoft and its OEM partners.
OEMs missing the point with Windows Home Server.

Now that reports are starting to come in as to the specifications of Windows Home Server PCs it is apparent that OEMs are missing the point.


Every device that I have seen so far comes with one hard drive and usually options for a bigger one (take the Tranquil PC offering).


Why only one by default? Why offer a bigger drive instead of two drives?


Part of the beauty of Windows Home Server is it's data handling. Build a WHS box with more than one drive in and your shared folders will be replicated much like RAID mirroring - with only one hard drive you have no redundancy.


Admittedly, you can add extra storage without having to open your server by using external hard drives but a WHS box is designed to be a small or slimline unit taking up as little room as possible (like a Media Center PC) so that it can be tucked away and be unobtrusive.


Also, a consumer is not going to want to buy a unit if they then need to buy extra bits just to take full advantage of all it's features. WHS is supposed to take the fear out of losing your data - if anything happens to the hard drive in your Home Server then you've had it, at least with folder duplication you've got the extra security that Home Server offers.


Do the OEMs argue that installing two hard drives OOTB will add on extra cost making consumers less likely to buy them? It will work out cheaper to buy a system with an extra drive installed by the OEM than it will to buy the system itself and then a second drive from elsewhere.


Am I just being too fussy here?


UPDATE: the HP MediaSmart server has got it right in it's 1TB model which comes with 2 x 500GB drives but NOT in the base 500MB model.

Windows Home Server catch up.
Now that holidays are over I've got a chance to get back in to the swing of things and catch up with everything that's been going on in the WHS space.
After going RTM recently it seems that those lucky enough to live in New Zealand and Australia can already get there hands on a shiny new System Builder copy with other countries due to follow soon (rumour has it that we are looking at about 7th September in the UK).
MS knowledgebase articles continue to be published and Philip over at the MSWHS blog is gathering them all together so you don't have to. Check out his WHS Knowledgebase page here: WHS Knowledgebase articles.
Numerous OEMs have partnered with MS to build WHS systems but the one that started it all - the HP MediaSmart Server - has been listed at in two flavours: 500GB and 1TG storage. Terry over at We Got Served reports that they were originally listed at $596 and $745 respectively but they are not just listed without prices. Someone slipped up there, eh?
Whilst Terry converts these US prices to £299 and £374 based on current exchange rates we all know that these prices aren't going to be realistic in the UK. We'll probably be adding at least £100 a pop.
As I've said before pricing, along with the marketing of WHS, is going to go a long way to determine the success of what deserves to be a huge seller. You've got to hand it to Microsoft for coming up with a good system - if anyone says that they don't innovate you need look no further than Windows Home Server.
On a side note, I'm going to be penning (well typing) an article on WHS so hopefully that will be in print in the not too distant future.
Windows Home Server ready to drop.
Philip over at the MS Windows Home Server blog has posted some cool info about the availability of Windows Home Server (presumably in System Builder form).
He states that "Revision 1 of Windows Home Server will be available shortly with an ETA of 15th - 21st August 2007" and will come in at around £150 - £200.
More good news is that testers who registered a address prior to 3rd August will have it automatically transfered to a address for free.
Great stuff!
Windows Home Server. Microsoft's iPhone?
Mary Jo Foley poses an interesting question: Could Windows Home Server be Microsoft’s iPhone?
She argues that Microsoft could have a hit with WHS as it is a product users might actually want with the potential for some great form factors from the partner OEMs.
There is no doubt that people have been calling for something like this for ages - a product that makes managing backups and sharing easier is in great need but outside of the tech enthusiasts and elements of the press who actually knows what it is and what it does?
Just as with Tablet PCs and UMPCs, Windows Home Server really needs a good marketing campaign to spread the word and educate the public about what it is and why they need it. Without this WHS could end up being another also ran.
Another important factor will be the price point these devices enter at. Let's face it, the whole point of WHS is that - once it's installed and configured - you stick it away in a corner and forget about it. It doesn't need a mouse, screen and keyboard. How much are people going to pay for something that they won't "use" on a day to day basis?
Let's home that the lessons have been learnt from before and that WHS receives a real push.
The mysterious Home Server Banner.
I thought I was going mad at the weekend when I noticed (for the first time) a Toolbar available in IE:
IE Menu
As I have IE set up how I like it and don't change it I hadn't noticed this before. Enabling the Toolbar just gives a blank banner with the nice WHS blue background:
Home Server Banner
(click to enlarge)
Searching the Home Server Forums revealed that this IS an issue that has been reported as a bug. The banner should not be available in Windows Explorer and IE by the looks of things. It is, however, used when viewing a backup from the server:
Banner restore
Sanity is restored ;)
Windows Home Server goes RTM!
Well, it hardly seems any time since testers were given access to the RTM build of Windows Home Server (12th June actually) but Charlie Kindel, general manager of the WHS team, has posted on the WHS blog that the code has been finalised and released to RTM.
It's been really fun testing the product and sharing the news with you. It's also nice to know that at least a few of my bugs/suggestions have been taken on board and helped to shape the final release.
Many congratulations WHS team, and here's to testing v2.
What would you want to see in an overview of Windows Home Server?
If you were reading an overview of Windows Home Server in a mainstream computing magazine what would you want to see?
What is it? How does it work? What can it do for you? What are the benefits? etc.
Anything else?
Configuring alternative ports for Windows Home Server.
Philip Churchill over at the MS Windows Home Server blog has written a good walkthrough of changing the ports used by the WHS website should your ISP block ports 80 & 443 or, as in my case, you just want to use another port as 80 & 443 are already in use for something else.
Now, Philip does say that once you do this you will need to add "/home" to the end of the URL in order for the site to work. I use port 563 and, personally, have not had any issues just going directly to the site itself via IP, address or normal domain address all on port 563.
I do find that I need to run IISRESET after changing the port and don't forget to allow traffic through on the new port in the Windows firewall.
UPDATE: a commenter over on Philips blog has made a good point - check that your ISP allows you to run a Windows Home Server so that you don't risk getting your account shut down for breaching the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).
Help authors write Windows Home Server books.
If you've had anythng to do with Windows Home Server over the beta the you're no doubt familiar with the excellent web site We Got Served - a fantastic resource from the UK! If you haven't then I urge you to pay them a visit.
They have posted details about two upcoming WHS books the authors of which have asked for input in to what should be included. If you want to help then drop a comment to this post indicating what you feel should included in any book about Windows Home Server.
Windows Home Server RC looking more like the finished article.
Well, you'd certainly hope so for a Release Candidate. Windows Home Server is looking a lot more like the finished article.
Just like Windows Vista as it performs the post setup checks, WHS now provides you with a series of screens giving you a brief overview of the product while it nips off to download updates after installation has completed (click on each thumbnail to view the full size image)
WHS Updates Screen 1       WHS Updates Screen 2
WHS Updates Screen 3       WHS Updates Screen 4
WHS Updates Screen 5       WHS Updates Screen 6
WHS Updates Screen 7       WHS Updates Screen 8
WHS Updates Screen 9       WHS Updates Screen 10
As with the CTP, Help opens automatically after the first login and this too is looking much better and more complete
WHS RC Help 1     WHS RC Help 2
I've not had too much time to delve in to it so far but up to now it's looking pretty good.
Almost a WHS disaster,
I got round to burning the Windows Home Server RC installation DVD last night - making sure I did it on a slow speed to get a good burn.
Didn't work! The PC wouldn't boot from the so maybe it was a bad burn after all.
After 3 DVDs I decided to check with some other disks. The drive read CDs okay but would not read ANY DVDs. A short moment of panic ensued but was ended by the discovery of a spare DVD drive sitting on the side. Phew!
As you can see from the shots at We Got Served the installation UI has been well and truly prettied up in a WHS style, although I didn't get to see most of that as I left the install going and went to bed.
I should get the chance to dive in tonight.
Windows Home Server RC released.
The Windows Home Server team made the Release Candidate build available to testers yesterday. I've grabbed it but not yet had time to burn the DVD and get it installed so, stick around and I'll post some info just as soon as I get it up and running.
In the meantime you can check out the Windows Home Server Forums to see what people are saying about this latest build.
Windows Home Server to go RC but with issues.
Windows Home Server testers have received a mail advising that there will shortly be a Release Candidate version of WHS available but, due to a bug in the code of the last CTP build, the option to upgrade to the RC version will not be the default as computer backups will be lost and non-replicated shares may also go the way of the data graveyard. It is therefore recommended that a clean install be done. Still, no biggie - we all know it's a beta so should have our data backed up elsewhere right?!
The ability to log bugs on Connect has also been withdrawn with all new reports etc. now to be logged on the forums.
Interestingly, the email does say "we *can* confidently say that we will support upgrading from the RC to the RTM version". Does this mean testers who have built their own solutions will get the final release?
More OEMs join the WHS party.
WinHEC 2007 (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) has kicked off and in his keynote speech Bill Gates announced that a number of OEMs will be joining HP in producing Windows Home Server machines. Among those mentioned were Gateway and Medion.
It was also confirmed that Microsoft will make the WHS OS available to system builders but there will not be a retail SKU.
I have said previously that Windows Home Server is one of the most exciting products to come from MS in a while and has a huge potential if it is marketed correctly (there's that word again).
Medion are to demonstrate their product at WinHEC and it should be available by the end of the year. Medion are a relatively little known OEM but, certainly in the UK, are becoming more well known by having their products sold in retail stores such as Woolworths and Aldi. The prices are normally very competitive as well with can only bode well for the Home Server market.
You can read the full MS press release about WHS at WinHEC here: Bill Gates Announces New Windows Home Server Hardware and Software Partners at WinHEC 2007.
Adding a hard drive to Windows Home Server.
Beyond a normal RAID setup, Windows Home Server includes what is known as the Drive Extender which allows you to easily add multiple physical drives to your server without having to worry about how everything is configured. You simply install the drive, add it to your server storage and WHS takes care of the rest. With this in mind, just how simple is it to actually add a drive?
When WHS is installed your primary hard drive is automatically divided in to a 10GB partition (C:) for the OS and whatever's left as the D drive for storage. If you have multiple hard drives installed during installation it is obviously recommended that the largest one (if they are not the same size) should be the primary drive. This makes sense as you want to ensure that you are utilising as much space as possible if you have folder duplication enabled.
My initial configuration consisted of a single 200GB drive so shared folders could not be replicated (the WHS equivalent of RAID mirroring).
After installing an extra 160GB drive the WHS console reported its presence as below (click for full size image)
New drive
Highlighting the drive and clicking Add brings up the "Add a Hard Drive Wizard" which is a lot simpler than you might imagine:
Add Drive 1     Add drive 2
Add drive 3     Add drive 4
You'll notice from the last picture that it says "Used space: 79.54MB" on a freshly formatted drive. The standard Windows Drive Manager reports:
Drive manager
So, perhaps WHS is showing how much space would be used if folder duplication was enabled.
Still, all that is left to so once the new drive has been added is to go to the properties of individual shared folders and enable folder duplication should you wish to do so
Enabled duplication
As you can see, it really IS simple to extend your storage and, as WHS lets you use external hard drives, you may not even need to open your server to do it.
"Wake on LAN" add-in for Windows Home Server.
Evangelos Hadjichristodoulou (MVP) has created what appears to be the first add-in available for Windows Home Server and what's more is that he's hosting the download on his Home server itself.
If you want to connect to one of your PCs remotely but it has gone in to standby then this is for you (providing the PC supports WOL of course).
Get the full details in the WHS forum thread here: Wake on Lan add-in for WHS.
Windows Home Server user experience.
Kynan Antos, according to his bio, has been working on the design of Windows Home Server for the past two years and has started a series of 11 posts showing the evolution of the WHS UI.
It's interesting to see the progress from the initial prototypes to the current UI shown in my various posts.
If you're interested then check out Kynan's blog here: antosdesign.
Ed Bott does a great overview of Windows Home Server.

Ed Bott over at ZDNet has put together a great overview of Windows Home Server. If you're still unsure about what it could offer you or why you would want one this may help to shed some light on the subject.

Ed covers the core functionality as well as diving in to a bit more detail about the way it performs the various tasks (such as methods of saving space with multiple backups). So, if my posts haven't given you what you need I'd definitely urge you to read his: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server.

Windows Home Server password policies.
I mentioned on Saturday about the new facility to change the password complexity policy in WHS but wasn't reading what was right in front of me.
As you can clearly see below, password complexity can be set at the required level but any account that has been enabled for remote access will ALWAYS has the requirement for a strong password - obviously in the interests of security. And a good job too!
Password policy
I've had some more time to spend with WHS and to get a few more shots ready for you.
As I mentioned yesterday, the new CTP build include the functionality to create a custom URL to enable you to easily connect to your server from on the road or anywhere. The URLs are in the format and the domain name wizard takes you through everything you need:
Domain wizard
Getting a custom domain requires a Windows Live ID (what doesn't these days) and you can get one via the UI if you don't already have one
Sign in
The wizard advises you that the server will periodically contact Microsoft and you can read a privacy statement, but you also have to accept a "Windows Live Custom Domains Service Agreement Addendum" (a nice catchy name).
Choose your domain
So, you choose your custom domain name and everything is set up. Once DNS replicates across the web you can get hold of your server from just about anywhere. That is providing your router is set up correctly.
As I mentioned in the last post, if your router supports UPnP you can use the console UI to auto configure it - another one of the new features in this build
Remote UI
Now, my router doesn't support UPnP and the Server Console reports that you must set things up manually as it is not able to do so. The help file gives you some info as to what you need to do. You are advised to forward ports 80 (HTTP), 443 (HTTPS) and 4125 (RDP) to your Home Server machine but obviously, depending on your setup, you may have to juggle this a little.
In my case, ports 80 and 443 are already in use by the blog and Outlook Web Access so I have set the WHS site to use SSL with port 563 so that traffic gets routed correctly.
Once your custom domain name is in place you can view the details of your connection and redirection - this checks if your server is accessible via the web and shows you any problems
Verify connection
If you go to you'll see that you can connect fine so why does the check above fail to verify correctly?
Due to my set up I have had to create an IIS site with a host header to match the livenode address which redirects to port 563 and thus the Home Server PC. The verification check obviously cannot follow this redirection even though the website is accessible (albeit not directly).
The WHS team also promised the ability to manually set the password complexity required on your server and the server settings now includes this
I have has an issue with the slider not affecting the complexity on the server and it still wants a strong password but I haven't had the time to really look in to this or see if anyone has bugged it.
The other major, visible change with this build is the inclusion of an add-in manager. It was always envisioned that WHS would become a platform for developers to work on and provide add-ins for so the Windows Home Server SDK was released to enable just this.
The WHS Console - the way you interact with your server - has been prettied up a bit and the console splash has been updated. Most other functionality has remained consistent from the Beta 2 build so check out my previous look at WHS to see more shots.
Console splash
Windows Home Server CTP.
OK, so I've got the new CTP build of Windows Home Server and things are looking good so far.
You instantly notice that setup is a bit different this time around. When installing on the same PC you are given the choice of install type which is either a new install or a server re-installation. This completely wipes all settings etc. but preserves backups and all shared folder contents, cool!
Install type
As promised, you are also prompted for a server name rather than just being stuck with the default "SERVER"
Server name
Setup appears to take a while longer than the Beta 2 build but I did notice that it installs a Windows Update Redirector during setup and proceeds to download and install updates automatically - a nice touch.
Another promised item in this build is a short config wizard on first run and it's all starting to look very Vista-fied:
I've not had too much time to poke about but I have set up a custom domain and seen that the Server Console now includes an automatic connection checker to ensure that your server can be seen from the web.
If your router supports UPnP there is also an option to have the server auto-configure your router for you (unfortunately mine doesn't but I'm having to fudge mine due to ports 80 and 443 already being in use elsewhere).
Anyway, it's late so I'll be digging deeper tomorrow and posting plenty more shots of the differences between this build and Beta 2.
Stay tuned!
New build of Windows Home Server released to testers.
The Windows Home Server team yesterday announced that a new CTP build of Windows Home Server has been made broadly available to testers (build 06.00.1371) with a number of improvements including: a more complete and simplified "out of box" experience; better configuration of Remote Access including a custom domain name and the ability to add/remove add-ins developed with the Windows Home Server SDK that was released recently.
I'll be downloading this build tonight and will report back on my experience as usual.
Windows Home Server website.
Windows Home Server now has a website which gives an overview of the product, features, news and a link to the WHS community (forums and blog).
Windows Home Server website
Check it out here: .
New Windows Home Server box up and running.
I finally got round to setting up the new Windows Home Server PC last night. While it's still a 1GB PIII, 512MB RAM box it's now got a healthier 200GB drive so that I can test PC backups properly.
Windows Home Server restore does the trick.
Rick over at One Man Shouting has demonstrated that the PC restore functionality in Windows Home Server works and not by choice.
It appears that his Vista profile became corrupted so he dived in to the beta with what appears to be great success. It's good to hear.
For a full run through check his post here: Windows Vista dumped my profile, Windows Home Server brought it back.
Heading for a Home Server reinstall.
No, it's not because there are any problems (nothing major anyway) but my old friend Ben has bequeathed me an old PC which I can stick a 200GB hard drive in and use as a permanent Windows Home Server PC rather than the old kids PC which I'm using at the moment.
Thanks Ben :)
Windows Home Server category added.
I thought it was about time.
All the posts have been updated so apologies for any dupes in RSS.
What do you want see?
So, you spent the last few days listening to me waffle on about Windows Home Server but what do you want to see?
Are there any aspects of the product that you would like me to cover? Are there any questions burning a hole in your brain?
Let me know and I'll do my best to answer what YOU want to know.
Never forget, it's still a beta!
When everything runs swimmingly you tend to forget that you're actually using a beta product. I received a couple of reminders to that effect yesterday from Windows Home Server.
I have bugged some issues with the Web UI and made some suggestions (especially my quibble with backup retention) but those bugs haven't been major. Yesterday's issues were, therefore, a bit surprising when they popped up. Both issues related to the Notification area icon incorrectly showing the Network Health state.
Due to current space constraints I have turned off automatic backups but had created a manual backup a few days ago. Yesterday, WHS started complaining about the lack of a recent backup and notifies you to the effect by turning the tray icon yellow - this denotes the network health is "at risk".
To keep WHS happy I did a new manual backup but WHS didn't appear to be happy as indicated below:
WHS at risk bug
I have bugged this and await any feedback.
Another issue occurred when restarting Vista and this has been picked up by other testers. The tray icon goes red to indicate that the network health is Critical because Windows Defender is turned off when it is in fact running perfectly:
WHS Defender Critical
The situation eventually seems to rectify itself after about 5 minutes but there is obviously an issue here. It was good to see bugs already present.
Managing backups in Windows Home Server.
When automatic backups are enabled WHS performs nightly backups of your PCs and these will obviously take up space over time so need to be managed in some way. As this is WHS and we are all about simplicity what better than having WHS manage them for you.
WHS manages your backups as part of Windows Home Server Maintenance which, according to the help file, includes:
  • Back up home computers
  • Install Windows Updates, and restart the home server (if required)
  • On Saturday, defragment the Windows Home Server hard drives
  • On Sunday, delete any backups marked for deletion
  • On Sunday, delete any backups that are no longer required, according to the backup retention policy

Manage backup

Each backup that is taken can be manually marked for removal on the following Sunday should you not need it or you can choose how long WHS keeps the automatic backups it creates. You determine how many backups are retained by specifying the duration that a backup is kept - the longer the duration you keep a backup the more backups will be created until the old ones are removed to make room for fresh ones.

Backup settings
So, you can set the number of months to keep the first backup of the month, the number of weeks to keep the first backup of the week, and the number of days to keep the first backup of the day. Are you with me? I must admit, I'm a bit confused. I can see what they're getting at but WHS is supposed to be simple; surely, there's got to be a better way to define backup retention. I'll bug this and see what explanation I get back.
I can't remember where, but I have read that manual backups are not subject to the automatic management so will not get removed even after the retention criteria have passed. Looking at the settings it would appear that you can choose to include manual backups in the automatic management, mark them for removal or lock them so that they will never get deleted. This would make sense as you might want to take an initial snapshot shortly after setting up your shiny new PC so that you've got the equivalent of a clean image to go back to.
Overall, the process appears pretty streamlined and I'll be able to test it properly once I've got a box with more storage space.
Windows Home Server garners a lot of interest.

There's no doubt about it, ever since being officially unveiled at CES Windows Home Server has continued to grab the imagination.

The WHS team have blogged that they have received in excess of 40,000 requests to join the beta and recently sent out 10,000 invitations.

The blogosphere is buzzing about the product and even my daily IIS log tripled in size yesterday solely due to my recent posts on the subject.

WHS is intended to be simple enough for "Joe User" at home to use and configure and, although most of the interest is currently coming from the tech community, things are looking good. You've got to start somewhere and bloggers like myself are effectively acting as unpaid evangelists - spreading the word so that it may be picked up and passed on.

If the current curiosity in the product translates in any way to sales then Microsoft is sitting on a veritable cash cow with Windows Home Server. (UPDATE: providing they and OEMs don't price themselves out of the market.)

Don't forget, even if you're not on the beta you can keep up to date with the conversation, ask your own questions and make your own suggestions at the Windows Home Server forum.

Using backups on Windows Home Server.
As well as being one central place for all of your stuff Windows Home Server is designed to make managing backups of your home PCs easy. And, believe me, from what I've experienced so far, it couldn't be easier than it is with WHS.
Once in the WHS Console go to the Computers & Backups tab, highlight the PC you want and hit Configure Backup. After WHS collects info about your PC it asks what drives you want to include in the backup - easy (as usual, click the thumbnails for full size images)
Configure backup
WHS keeps you well informed about what it is doing both in the console window and in the notification area
Backup in progress     Backup notification
The server icon goes blue to show that a backup is in progress rather than the usual green and clicking the icon gives a bit more detail
Backup status 1     Backup status 2
You can view what backups are available for each computer on your network and get further details of each one
View backups     Backup details
Each backup acts like a snapshot and choosing to open the backup causes WHS to install a virtual drive and mounts the backup. You can then copy files directly out of the backup as though it was any other drive
Viewing backup
If you have major system problems WHS comes with a Restore CD which you can use to revert your PC back to how it was from one of these backups.
I'm loving this product more and more all the time.
If you're interested, all the WHS screen shots can be found together in a single Photo Library here.
Access Windows Home Server on your mobile.
Just to show it can be done I fired up Pocket IE and connected to the WHS on my Windows Mobile phone
 WHS via Windows Mobile
It is interesting to note that, even though you can initiate a remote desktop connection using Windows Mobile the computers tab was missing when using this method to connect.
A quick look at Windows Home Server.
As I mentioned, I've now got WHS installed on some temporary hardware (pretty much minimum spec (actually it's the kids computer!) so that I can have a good look and share it with you now that the WHS forum is live and the NDA is lifted.
As you no doubt already know, the code base for WHS stems from Windows Server 2003 and the installation therefore parallels a Server 2003 install. It's quite interesting to note that the DOS part of the install actually mentions Small Business Server 2003.
Once you're up and running and logged on to WHS you are instantly warned by way of a page in IE that mucking about with the server in the normal way you would can break key functionality:
WHS Caution
Should you need to you can run "control" from the Run box to bring up the Control Panel - it is hidden from the Start Menu by default.
This all goes toward satisfying the call for WHS to be simple to setup and use. If everything you do comes from the WHS Console then all your options are in one easy place. Once WHS is installed and connected you should really scrap the mouse and keyboard and just connect remotely, ideally with the Console.
The WHS Console itself is easy to understand at a glance with plenty of help links dotted about should you have any queries. Here's a few shots (click on the thumbnails to view the full size pictures)
Console computers      Console users
Console folders     Console storage
Console health
It's as easy as pie to add new users or new folders:
Add user     Add folder
If you have more than one hard drive installed WHS turns on Folder Duplication by default which acts just like mirroring in Raid
Folder duplication
The one difference with WHS, however, is that it includes Drive Extender which automatically adds new drives to the available space like spanning.
As mentioned, the idea behind WHS is that it is simple to use and configure and just about everything you need is available within the settings in the Console window:
General settings     Computers settings
Accounts settings     Folders settings
Resources settings
Part of the brilliance of the WHS idea is that,not only can you access your data from any PC within your home, but also that you can access your data AND home computers from over the web. IIS is already configured on install with the WHS web interface available on port 80 (I've had to change the SSL port as this blog and Exchange are already using up ports through the router).
The web interface again gives you access to just about everything you would need:
Web login     Web home
Web - computers     Web - folders
Not only can you access your data but you can also upload remotely over the web UI, you can also change the way Remote Desktop windows appear
Web upload     Connection options
Although this is only Beta 2 it is a very fully featured product. My only gripe so far is that the desktop console is a little misleading. You can only actually connect to the console using the administrator account and password but the console window says "Remember my password" as though you are going to connect with your own account.
Console password
That's all for now, more as and when I get to play with it a bit more.
A lesson learnt - the hard way.
I was in the middle of taking a number of screen shots of Windows Home Server (yes I've managed to cobble together some temporary hardware to at least have a look at it) and was switching from Sal's account to mine when I had a blue screen and the PC restarted.
I would imagine it's because we're still using Paint Shop Pro v7 which no doubt is experiencing some compatibility issues with Vista.
So, now I've got to redo the 20+ shots I was doing before the problem occurred. I hope to have them up soon.
Windows Home Server forum live.
Kevin Beares announced on Tuesday that the forum for all things Windows Home Server is now live.
The forum will host all Beta 2 discussions but has the added bonus of being open to the public at large. Even those who aren't on the Beta can watch what's going on and post their own questions or ideas.
If you're interested in WHS then check out the forum here.
Windows Home Server media turned up.
The install DVD/CDs for Windows Home Server beta 2 turned up today but it's a real shame that I just can't install it anywhere at the moment.
Maybe sometime soon.
In need of hardware.
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the Windows Home Server Beta program and was going to order some new kit with which to build it - I wanted to do something different and was going to have it in a case like this:
 WHS Case
Unfortunately, I only get paid full salary for a certain number of days off sick in any 12 month period, so being off for nearly two weeks has put paid to that idea.
You may have noticed a few hours downtime yesterday and this was due to me trying to cannibalise the kids PC, this server and my main Vista desktop for parts to build a serviceable unit I could use for the testing but it seems that the motherboard/bios in the kids old PC won't recognise large (i.e. 200GB+) hard drives so everything has been put back the way it was.
This is a real shame as WHS is one of the products I am currently really excited about and think has a lot of potential - the market has certainly been crying out for it for ages.
Charles Kindel has some good info on putting together a WHS box on his blog here so if you are invited to the beta make sure you give that a read before building your machine. He has also written a great post over at the WHS Team blog explaining in a bit more depth "the process my team used to plan Windows Home Server". Be sure to check that out.
So, in the meantime, I'll have to live vicariously through the blogs of others when it comes to Windows Home Server unless someone wants to sponsor this blog or sub me £400-£500 worth of hardware.
Get your name down for the Windows Home Server beta.
Les left a comment asking where he could sign up for the beta of Windows Home Server and at the time I replied that it was invite only.
Well, since then, the Windows Home Server team have announced on their blog that those interested in joining the beta can now register at the Connect website.
As the post says: "We can't guarantee you'll be invited to participate right away (or at all), but if you're interested get yourself registered".
So, what are you waiting for?
In the words of the well known phrase from UK club culture "if your name's not down you're not coming in."
More Windows Home Server info emerging.
Via cek.log.
Rick Hallihan over at One Man Shouting has an interesting series of posts up which follow discussions with Charlie Kindel about Windows Home Server. You can catch his posts here:

All good stuff!

Windows Home Server updates.
Mary Jo Foley wonders how Microsoft managed to keep Windows Home Server such a closely guarded secret and it appears that it's because the team responsible asked nicely - cool!
There have been internal beta builds of WHS since November 2005 (and apparently the most recent was "just a week ago").
Now, in the time honoured fashion of "it's not what you know but who you know" it seems that in order to get one of the initial invites in to the public beta for WHS "You will kind of have to know someone to get in" according to Kevin Beares.
Who knows, my earlier call for influencers to be given access may become a reality. There will also be a forum for the beta up on the Technet forums website which will be totally public and even allow non-testers to ask questions etc. It would therefore seem that testers will not be under NDA as that would be pointless.
I expect some really good info to start hitting the web soon. Good enough for you Robert?
Will Windows Home Server succeed?
Robert Scoble says that "The problem with the Home Server is going to be marketing". This is a given but where have we heard this before?
It seems that just about every product that MS has an input in (i.e. supplies the OS for OEMs to build systems round) that's not a normal PC seems to have this issue and we all shout "what about the marketing?"
Tablet PCs, UMPCs, to a degree Windows Mobile SmartPhones & PPCs have all suffered.
Scoble says that "mentions of it have totally died off" which is pretty indicative of the way these things go - an big initial push/viral campaign then everything goes quiet.
Unlike Loren I would imagine that the reason things have gone quiet on the WHS front is because we are 6 months away from the release of any products and no-one is currently evangelising them. We know that there must be a few of them around (being tested presumably) as Scoble says Martin Spedding has one and loves it.
But what we really need is for a few of these to be placed in the eager, sweaty mitts of a few influencers and let them both play with them AND (more importantly) blog about them. Don't shove anything away behind NDAs.
I have no issue with it being called a "server" and I don't think that there is any reason to get hung up on this. Just because it's called a server doesn't mean it's going to be a complicated beast to set up. For it to succeed it must be the epitome of simplicity.
People's understanding of what a server is or does sometimes gets a little blurred and many is the time I have heard Joe User refer to another desktop as a server just because they get files from it. This blurred understanding could, on the face of it, make the use and comprehension of a Home Server easier.
The sooner we can see these in action the better and , if they are marketed correctly and consistently, they could be a big success.
The Windows Home Server Team has a blog.
Jan 30th wasn't just launch day for Vista and Office 2007, it also marked the inaugral post of the Windows Home Server Team blog.
This was one of the most exciting products to have come out of CES this year so this blog will be a must to keep an eye on.
Check out the blog here: Windows Home Server Blog.
DIY Windows Home Servers?
Via and MSTechToday.
More information has surfaced regarding the upcoming Windows Home Server system and the most interesting snippet is that Microsoft are considering making the new operating system available on it's own so that system builders and consumers so that you can build your own WHS machine.
If this comes about it will be a fantastic idea and will leave the consumer free to tailor a WHS system to their needs.
More details can be found in a PressPass document which can be found here.
This document also gives some further details on the HP MediaSmart Server which is due to be released in the autumn; it states that the maximum supported storage available (both internal and external) will amount to 6 Terrabytes achieved using four 750GB drive bays and four USB ports but I wonder how much storage will be in the box when you purchase it.
Windows Home Server details emerge from CES.
One of the most interesting consumer items coming out of CES so far is the Windows Home Server solution which is designed to help "households with multiple PCs easily connect their digital experiences, providing a reliable and familiar way to store, access, share and automatically enhance protection of treasured digital images, music, video and personal documents".
(It's a shame that due to IP restrictions it was cut from the CES keynote video).
The first example of this is the HP MediaSmart Server which is due around the Autumn of this year. And to be honest, it looks pretty damn smart to me :)
 MediaSmart Server
The interface also looks pretty slick and quite Vista like. You can check out Josh's blog at Windows Connected for a few screen shots. If the functionality is as simple as the interface makes it seem then this is going to be a sure fire winner.
Obvious functionality is to act as a central point for your data but Home Server will also offer the ability to completely back up all of your PCs to one central location and provide quick, easy restores. Overall, this is something the market has been crying out for for a long time.
Brandon picks up an interesting point from the Home Server fact sheet which says that Home Server users will get "Personalized Internet address from Windows Live with no monthly service fees". This is presumably going to be in conjunction with the Custom Live Domains and will enable you to get to your Home Server from just about anywhere via the internet.
Paul Thurrott has some good info over at the WinSuperSite so make sure you check that out as well, here: Windows Home Server Preview.
This is definitely something worth watching in the months to come.
UPDATE: you can catch the first of a two part interview with Bill Gates in which he talks about home servers over at C|Net
UPDATE 2:  a brief video showing off some of the functionality of Home Server can be seen at the Microsoft at CES website. Looks good.