My Thoughts on Windows Home Server
Lots of talk about Windows Home Server (WHS) so far, and it
was only announced a few days ago. I
have to say that I’m extremely excited about this product, even with the few Media Center
downfalls that it seems to have.
First of all, I’m not a big fan of Network Attached Storage
(NAS). In general, I think it’s a
waste. I’ve always felt that I can do
the exact same thing a NAS does on my standard PC running Windows XP Media
Center. Windows XP will share folders,
and you are redirect shares in Windows with just a few clicks. I’ve spent time playing with different NAS
software, even building a distro of Linux from scratch and building an XPe image
to do the same. Again, ever used them
and forgot about them now.
Enter Windows Home Server.
From what we know so far, this product has changed my opinion on
NAS-type storage, mainly because it does so much more. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking
about features that are known, but quickly centralized backup is the best thing
I’ve ever seen. Just on that I’m either
going to build or buy one of these for my parents, who have three PCs and can’t
backup anything to save there lives.
Central storage is, of course, a big point as is expanding of storage
Remote access is cool, being able to not only get to all of
your files and media from any location but also being able to do things like
Remote Desktop into any machine from any location. Yes, you can do this right now but it just
got a lot more simple.
Now lets get to the really cool stuff, integrating this with
a home Media Center setup. This is where Microsoft’s details get a
little iffy. They say that media can be
accessed using Windows Media Connect, which is good but not great. I’m trying to find out if content stored on a
WHS will be able to be access from Media Center Extenders. I’m hoping Microsoft just left this out from
there talking points, because it’s hard to believe that it will not be able to
be done. When you think about it, it
should work by just adding content from a network location within of Media Center. I’ll hopefully get conformation on this
sometime this week.
The second part of the Media Center
is not addressed at all, and that’s having the WHS record TV and host the
EPG. If this was the case, we could do
away with really needing a “Media Center PC” and move to a true Media Center
Extender based setup. This would be
amazing, and yet again it would also leave SoftSled a perfect entry point for
using PCs as Media Center Extenders.
Imagine having four CableCARD Tuners in this thing, with all the content
recording to a single location for access on all Media Center Extenders in the
Since its Windows Server 2003 R2 based, I’m not sure we will
see this directly from Microsoft.
However, there is a hack to install Media Center
on Windows Server 2003, so we might be able to get it working. Oh, did I mention that you can just Remote
Desktop into the WHS and get your basic Explorer shell to mess around with?
One of the things I love about Media Center
is that there are so many ways you can choose to use it. You can put your Media Center PC in the
Office as your main PC and have Media Center Extenders throughout your home, or
you can put it in your Living Room and have a separate PC in your Office, and
so on. If Microsoft isn’t going to have
WHS do my recording, then I think the next best step is to have to
automatically move all my recorded content to the WHS nightly (or ever
hourly). If this is done without any
user interaction, I personally would be alright with the WHS not doing the
recording itself. This way all of the
content is still in one place and would still be accessible from any Media
Center Extender in my home.
There are still some problems when relating to Media Center,
however I think Windows Home Server will be a great product. I would love to get into the beta for this
thing, and as long as Media Center Extenders can access the content I will
either be building or buying one once released.
Grundner (eHomeUpgrade) Thoughts on Microsoft's Windows Home Server
Announcement at CES 2007