How do you explain the benefits of Windows Home Server to the "end user" (not the administrator of Windows Home Server, but the person who you may need to convince or explain why this software is important, cool, or some other adjective du jour) in a home? How do you get them to be excited about a new piece of technology - how do they see the benefits?
Here are some of the things I have heard from real people with the software:
In a sense the home server is invisible until something goes wrong (e.g. restoring a PC or set of files) or it is providing a service (e.g. media streaming) that people aren't quite sure how it all works.
I would love to hear other people's experiences in explaining the benefits of Windows Home Server to the "end users" in the home or even better true stories with real quotes .... Feel free to e-mail them or reply as comments to this post.
This is an easy one! My wife and I both have laptops and we share a desktop. We also have an xbox 360 in the home. As most other guys will agree, convincing the wife is 95% of the job to get anything new in the home :D (5% of the work is getting the money)
Anyways, I told her the following:
1- Price! We're in beta right now, but if the price is under around $400 or so for an OEM appliance (or $199.00 or less for the OEM software). At that price, my wife is ok with it.
2- Constant backups! There is comforting feeling when know that your photos, documents, videos and music are safe.
3- "Out of sight, out of mind." Our apartment isn't that big and another computer stuck in an odd place would only send my wife bonkers! Fortunately, we have storage space that I store the server in. No ugly boxes in our place!
4- Access to information from any computer (and music/photos/video to the xbox 360), even when you are away from home. My wife enjoys knowing that she can log into the server even when we are at college. I setup hamachi on our server and tablet pc so our VPN is a safe and secure.
I'll let you know once WHS actually starts shipping :) Bit hard to have gathered quotes on a product not yet commercially available.
I can say that it'll probably evolve out of conversation I have all the time, which is, "what do you use for backup?" or "is it possible to get my music from work?"
Price will be a deciding factor as well. Depending on the cost of a low-end system I can sell a WHS instead of someone having to buy 3 or 4 copies of backup software plus a spindle of discs. Somewhere in the $300 - $600 range will be the sweet spot.
Lastly, telling them I can remote in and fix problems instead of me having to painfully walking them through issues over the phone will make a few sales right there. I'm the unoffical tech support for family and friends and that is the big reason I'm so excited about WHS in the first place.
That's of course provided that WHS somehow magically allows remote access on even Vista Home Premium machines which don't come with RDP. If they can't access Home Premium machines from WHS then honestly I'm going to tell them to completely skip WHS, as the remote feature is one of they key bits in my mind. Most households will only have one copy of Ultimate while everyone else will probably run Premium.
The best thing about WHS for me as a user is the freedom to try out new configurations or changes to my computers software without fear of losing data. If something I try doesn't work, I navigate to a previous back and restore what I have just changed to go back to the previous configuration.
Since its in beta, how about the reverse? Quotes from confused end-users.
I know Windows Server 2003 very well and also teh benefits for company, but the Windows Home Server is a great solution for end users, which is so easy to use and to configure.
The backup function is great! But also the Folder duplication feature is amazing easy to use ...
Got a guy at work who is the type who "has everything" and everything he has "is better then everyone elses". When I told him of WHS, he was like what do you need a server for, when I told him well lets see, it backs up ALL of my computers in the house at night every night, saving me from that disaster waiting to happen when junior installs that great new game and completely screws up his computer, it stores all of my photos, music, movies etc. in one place so everyone has access to them without having to beg someone else to use their computer which has the files. Instead of having to replace my 160 Gig HD on my main computer with a larger one I bought 2 500 gig HD's for the server and will NEVER have to replace a HD because of lack of space. I have user accounts for my whole family to use the space giving each kid a private (well they think private) area where they can store files. Then I said the best part, I still am NOT using it fully! He said what more can it do? I told him well lets see I can access everything from anywhere in the world. Plus a whole lot more!!
He wants one now.. I told him soon.
My laptop was kind enough to freeze today. Rock solid, won't boot up, nothing. It's one of many machines in the house but it's the machine I use most regularly.
WHS has been backing it up nightly.
So now even though I have to ship my laptop out to be serviced I can mount the backup from last night and drag all the files I need from that backup. On my main desktop machine it took just a few minutes to mount the backup and drag some files I needed out of it.
WHS has sold me, as long as the retail product isn't crazily priced I'll definitely be moving from the beta to the final product.
For my being able to very easily open up a backup and pull out a single file is fantastic. I have WHS backing up my Media Center PC and I had deleted a film I recorded for my wife, so I could in seconds open up the backup and restore the file. Great WAF
Where as at the office when a Hard disk crashes we have to sort out getting ghost images back on to the new machine and its real pain. I wish I could run WHS across my 100 desktops.
All right. I admit it. I have a problem. I read my favorite "Tech Deals" site, ( http://www.dealnews.com
Although I am a novice at this whole thing and love the initial features of WHS, I have one major concern. At our house, we have several computers in multiple rooms, some are just for easy access and some have specific tasks (like the Media Room computer). However, we make it a practice to at least put every computer into "standby" mode or completely off every evening or if we are going out of town for energy saving reasons. At today's cost of electricity, it is a waste of money to leave all machines running just to perpetuate connectivity with WHS. It seems that WHS is not very tolerant of machines that are "offline" for any reason, including energy saving, and I wonder if there is not some way to allow users to flag a machine that is shut down or otherwise offline for this (good) reason so that our network is not perpetually "at severe risk."
The biggest issue for me, and I don't see a solution for, is the integration of media into the Home Server solution. Specifically, allowing Windows Media Center to record directly to the shared resource on WHS, and then allow other applications to use the files (i.e. a media extender). Currently, the two do not co-exist: with files having to be kept on the two machines. If there would be a way for the WHS to better store and serve up MCE files- it would be a better solution for those of use juggling a lot of content. Otherwise, this is a great area of growth and insight on Microsofts part. Thanks much.