Woo-hoo! We did it. Today we are announcing that Windows Home Server has been released to manufacturing (RTM). We have finalized the software and now handing it off to our OEM partners. The evaluation version (with 120 day evaluation period) and the system builder version are also heading into the distribution channels and will be available in the next couple of months. French, German and Spanish versions will be finalized shortly, and OEM products will hit retail shelves this fall.
We're also excited to announce Iomega and Fujitsu-Siemens Computers (FSC) as new OEMs planning to ship Windows Home Server products later this year.
Here's the toast I gave to the team at our RTM ship party last Friday night.
It started with a vision that an always available device on the home network was an essential ingredient of a Microsoft platform for the home. At first there was only one of us, then three, then five... We put together a plan for a plan and executed. The result was an ambitious, yet pragmatic product plan that would deliver real value to consumers. We formed a team of extremely passionate, diverse, and hard working people. Some will say we had great luck but we know the best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself. We had a spirit of getting it done, no matter what. We broke some rules but never any laws. A community of highly enthusiastic customers rose around us. We made them part of the development process and rewarded them and they amplified our efforts. We made some mistakes…and corrected them. We took a few risks…and they paid off. In April 2005 we said we’d ship V1 in the first half of 2007. It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always fun, but we said what we were going to do and then we did it. You know what they say…the fourth time’s a charm.† Congratulations and thanks for helping ship the coolest version of Windows ever: Windows Home Server.
The party was a blast and I'm glad to say everyone got home safely :-).
This has been an exciting and rewarding journey for me and the team.† For me it's been a labor of love for over 8 years. The “Quattro” project began in February 2004 and we became a product group in April 2005. As you can imagine, I am extremely gratified that we have built a great V1 product on time and on budget.
There's more to come! The partner community is blossoming. We now have six OEMs on board, including Fujitsu-Siemens, Gateway, HP, Iomega, Lacie and Medion. The ISV support and software Add-ins keep rolling in, and the Code2Fame contest should drive even more cool 3rd party products.
Lastly, I'd like to extend a Big tip-of-the-hat to the enormous passion and contributions from our beta testers and community. 100,000+ participants, high volume of forum discussions, 1 million+ views/month on this blog, etc. all attest to the fact that Windows Home Server addresses a big need out there. The right product at the right time!
Now for a little time off...
-Charlie Kindel, GM, Windows Home Server
† I wrote my first thought paper about a Microsoft home server product in 1999 and Windows Home Server is my fourth project to build one. The first "effort" resulted in not much more than a PowerPoint presentation and my managers saying "Charlie, this is interesting, but you really need to focus on your real job." The second effort was actually a series of incubations focused on home automation and family applications (codenamed "Bedrock"). We actually showed off Bedrock (and the "Bbox") at CES in 2000. Alas, we were way ahead of our time and truth be told, while our user experience was brilliant and our technology was great, we couldn't actually spell the word "business". The group that built Bedrock merged with another team and we became "eHome". I consider my deep involvement with Media Center Edition (and Media Center Extenders) my 3rd effort regarding home servers.
This explains "Quattro": When I was given the opportunity to focus full time on another incubation project for a home server I had to give it a cool codename (I've always enjoyed the codename game; its' not an accident that all of the original Media Center codenames are skiing related). Quattro means "4".
When we transitioned from being an incubation project to having an actual product plan we needed a different codename. The letter “Q” was convenient, simple, and seemed cool. Windows Server Code Name “Q” is now officially Windows Home Server.
Windows Home Server was a secret for a long time. We had over 1,000 internal testers at Microsoft prior to announcing the product at CES 2007, some of these people used the product for over a year without leaking anything about it. I remember the early days when employees asked us - "What do I tell my family? How do I explain this to them without divulging Microsoft confidential information?"
Today and tomorrow, the Windows Home Server team has a booth at the internal Microsoft company fair. Like our booth at CES, we are busy. The benefits are easy to understand, the simplicity is refreshing and the interest in un-ending. It is amazing how many people within Microsoft know so little about Windows Home Server. Yet, once they understand the product, its value, and see a demo, they are sold with the obvious next set of questions .... how much will it cost and when is it available?
The product is winding its way through the manufacturing process and will soon hit the store shelves. It is a better product due to the 1,000 Microsoft employees that gave us feedback for over a year prior to our public unveiling. And it is even better due to the feedback from the 100,000+ beta testers!!
Or in the case of Daryl Plummer, go big AT home. Daryl's the Gartner research chief I mentioned in a previous post. I think its fair to say he has a seriously (the ultimate?) digital home. Here's the more detailed overview of his not-so-humble abode:
14 broadcast display devices, 13 zones of security, 17 zones of automation, 384 active relays, 6 internal cable channels, 5 wireless networks, 1.2 TBs of storage, 11 PCs and Servers (he'll be trying out Windows Home Server soon), 10-seat HD theater, 400 disc DVD changer, 2 digital movie servers, 4 zones of wireless music, 4 DVRs, IPTV access, DSL/Cable/Satellite, 1200 songs, 3 online gaming systems, 1 Media Center PC, 2 RF remote networks, 2 Xbox media extenders, 7 surveillance cameras,1 digital drum kit, ethernet throughout.
So, the question is...anyone out there with a comparable set up? Even if yours doesn't match up - after all its Daryl's job to be a digital home expert - we'd be interested to know how tech'd out your crib is.