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10 Computers & 10 Users

10 Computers & 10 Users

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From time to time, people ask the home server team how and why we made certain decisions for the initial release of WIndows Home Server.  Currently, you can define 10 user accounts in the Windows Home Server Console and you can install the Windows Home Server Connector software on up to 10 home computers running Windows XP or Windows Vista.

In all of the secondary research that we reviewed and primary research that we did for home server as part of the product planning process, it was very rare to find broadband connected households and home-based businesses with more than 10 people and with more than 10 home computers.  Additionally, Microsoft offers a great product, Windows Small Business Server, that scales well beyond 10 users for more sophisticated home-based businesses or small businesses that plan on growing.  You can read about the upcoming release of Windows Small Business Server 2008 on the microsoft web site.

We didn't want to build a consumer product that used CALs (Client Access Licenses) as we really didn't think consumers wanted to deal with managing licenses for their home PCs and sometimes when you say CAL, people hear "cow" and respond that they live in the city not on a ranch and don't really have a need for cattle.

However, we knew that there would be rare cases where someone had 11 computers or 12 or 17 or ? in their home.  So, long ago we made the decision that a user could have 2 home servers, where a given home computer would only be "joined" or "connected" to one for the purpose of the daily automatic image-based backups and centralized health reporting through the Windows Home Server Console. 

The home server team is very customer focused and continues to listen to feedback through Microsoft Connect.  A few people have submitted suggestions that we should allow for more than 10 users and/or more than 10 computers.  We resolved one of these early suggestions as "Won't Fix" for the initial release of Windows Home Server.  But people sometimes resubmit this as a suggestion - the latest one is here (you need a Windows Live ID to access the suggestions on the Windows Home Server Connect site)  

So, now we are back in the product planning phase and culling through all of these suggestions.  What if we had 2 versions of Windows Home Server - one for the "basic" household and one for the more "advanced" household.  What should we think about using as limits for the number of users and computers for a "basic" version and for an "advanced" version?

I am interested in your thoughts and feedback. 

t. (aka "todd the product planner") 


  • My issues is not that Home Server does not support more than 10 users - that's no problem.  It is the fact that it does not support more than 10 computers.  Being one of the geek crowd, I have a grand total of 6 computers myself (home desktop, home notebook, work primary notebook, work secondary notebook, work demo notebook, and game/consumer demo notebook).  That means that my 1 user account takes p 60% of the allocation of machines.  Add a wife and kids, and we are actually out of slots.  So who ends up being the one losing out - me.  The end result is that 1 or 2 of my machines don't get backed up as needed.

    I would love to see a 10 user and 25 computer limit on Home Server for other folks like me.


  • 2 servers? "Advanced" vs "Basic" versions? Please.

    Just issue CALs.

    This is a typical example of Microsoft using a complex solution to solve a simple problem.

    A basic user gets 10 users/computers. Someone with more than 10 computers in their house is going to be an advanced user, and is going to be able to understand the concept of buying more licenses. Most likely, they're the sort of person who is already familiar with the term "CAL".

    If people think you say "cow", then just change the name. The word "License" works fine for this, as does "Seat", as does "User". Not everything in the industry needs to be a 3 letter acronym.

    The other problem you're going to run into is that Windows Home Server is an excellent product for small business, not just the home. The backups and drive spanning are a dream. Plus, there's the inherent power of win2k3 server. So, one WHS would potentially serve the fileserving and backup needs of an office of up to, say, 30 people. For a small office, WHS reduces the needs for an sysadmin...

    IMHO it's simply a better product than SBS... with the exception of the lack of AD. Y'know there are a lot of people would definitely go for AD on WHS.

    So... you've either got to migrate the drive spanning and backup to your small business offering, or expand your target from "home" to SOHO.

    Most importantly, realise that you have a product that scales beyond 10 users and 10 computers, and have a SIMPLE solution for those who desire that. i.e. issue CALs.

    Running 2 home servers just makes no sense to solve a licensing problem.

  • I really think this a terrible idea. Look at all the confusion with the 7 different Vista versions. Home Server is eventually supposed to be something regular people will use. If computers are confusing to them now, why add an additional choice? Just give Home Server an insanely high limit on the number of users and computers (maybe 25 and 50 respectively) and trust users to not violate the rules. Wild idea but you know, it just might work :)

  • My dream would be a combination of WHS and SBS.  I was actually really hoping that SBS2008 would include the computer backup and disk system of WHS, then it would be perfect.  As is, now I'll be running WHS for backups and fileserver, and SBS2008 for email and account management in my (too complex sometimes) home network.

  • I very much echo the sentiments that another SKU of WHS would be a bad idea.  I also agree that you don't need to call them CALs.  After 10 computers/users just have the new user wizard make you enter in a code or put in your credit card number or something to purchase a "license" then and there.

    I can't say how much I agree with the feeling that SBS really needs the backup and drive extender from WHS.  PLEASE, can't we get that as some sort of an add-in for SBS2008?  Either that, or just cut the SBS team out of business and add AD and Exchange to WHS (as optional components, of course - we wouldn't want to make everyone have to use AD).  Then completely remove all user licensing, go ahead and let us hang ourselves by running 200 users off a MediaSmart. :-)

    Seriously though, it would be nice to have some way of adding licenses to WHS so I could handle more users/computers.  Not a new SKU, just a way to tack on more licenses.

  • An arbitrary limitation of 10 users does not make sense. Why put a limitation at all? What would Microsoft lose if people connected more than 10 machines on one Windows Home Server?

    Wouldn't it be cool if headlines read one day "Enthusiast manages to backup 768 PCs with one WHS!". Could someone top that? Too bad MS doesn't do cool :)

    Limitations are silly and Microsoft can afford to be above that. Why make such a big deal out of details? Why even bother spending time coding/testing things like "10 users/computers max"? This does not make sense to me at all.

    I'd be super impressed if anybody dared/managed to backup more than 20 computers reliably with it :)

    Be bold, stop thinking 20th century and dare to reach new limits.

  • I agree with what has been said about using CALS (or whatever name you call it).

    Plan A:

    Standard license 10 computers/users. Since newegg has the WHS DVD set for $139.99, charge those "advanced" users a one-time fee of $14.00 per pc/user over the 10 user/pc limit ($139.99 divided by 10).

    Plan B:

    Update the current WHS to accept 15 computers/users for everyone.

    Plan C: Do a modification of both plan A and B.

    Whatever you do, DO NOT issue a new SKU for WHS. Let there be one WHS where the updates are done on a per-user basis and not as a separate install.

  • I agree with danirb.  I have several test machines as well as a couple of VMware virtual machines.  My kids have a desktop and a laptop and it all adds up.  I only have four users, but have hit the computer limit on occasion and needed to delete a couple less frequently used machines.

    - Bob

  • for a home server... 10client are just enough..

  • Definately give us exchange 2007 without the need for AD, or at least make it invisible.

    Not that im against AD, im a MCSE but I think AD doesnt belong in the home.

  • I would say a big 'No' on multiple versions.

    Having features that you can turn on/off in the OS i would love to have, but not multiple versions.

    The main mantra for Home Server was to 'keep it simple' if i'm not mistaken. By creating multiple versions of the product then you add confusion to the person buying the product (marketing loves to segment the market but it would be a big mistake).

    Hardcore users like myself will always select the pro/ulimate/whatever-has-the-most-features version, but i'm worried for the 'dumb' user. The user that goes to the local electronics store and picks up a complete HP-box and that has no idea what it actually does beyond the basics.

    Multiple versions of WHS would also mean that addons might work in one version, but not another (i.e vista ultimate supports feature N but not the home ed).

    You can argue that 'dumb' user will not install any addons etc, but i know from experience that they eventually will (anti virus?), further more you'll make it harder for developers to create functional addons. By creating multiple editions you also make it harder for the 'dumb' user's technical friend, that will have to fix the home server when something happends ("i'm sorry but i cant do that because this is the home ed that dosent support feature N").

    This is not a server product for businesses that is installed and managed by proffessionals. It's a 'home-server' and it needs to be _simple_.

    My suggestion:

    -Release only one edition of the WHS OS (do not make ultimate,pro,home,enterprise ed)

    -Release only one cd/dvd set with both 64bit and 32bit editions on the same disk.

    -Give users the choice to turn on/off various features (media center, website, adv. disk monitoring).

    -Give users the possibility to use their WHS with as many or as few possible computers as possible (as developers you'll only make it harder on yourself implementing this part and artificial restrictions always give users pain).

    -Hide advanced options from the user unless the explicitly want to see them. Use safe defaults. This way you can add advanced customization but still make it manageable for 'dumb' users.

    Remember marketing people, you dont want to just sell a product; you want to make the user buy from you a second time aswell.

  • For me, I'd want to be able to use my Homeserver as my Media Center...  Currently, I have to have two devices "always on" - my Media Center PC and my Homeserver.  I think it makes a lot of sense to have the Homeserver as the 'all in one background machine' - being able to use my HS as my Media Center, and connect to it with my extenders (including 360) would be ideal, and bring my power bill down too.

    But, I agree, don't go down the multiple versions route....  Just give us a scalable Version 2.

  • Whatever solution is selected, it must be easily upgradeable.  In other words I can't see any reason why I would have more than 6 PCs in my house, but should I add another 5; I should be able to easily allow the extra PC, without having to reinstall the OS or buy another machine. An online purchase of a further CAL would be preferred.  Or even better allow 25 users as no household could ever need that many clients.

    I definitely like the idea of integrating home media server capabilities.

  • I'd just like to echo the sentiments of the previous commenters:

    * No new SKU's

    * Either just give us CAL's (called anything you like) or just remove the limits - if people want to backup their entire mega-corp on a WHS... well then it's their loss.

    * It would be good if the WHS tech would find it's way "upstream".

    My Thoughts:

    * Just say no exchange for home - the cloud is fine for email. ( I believe there is already a post describing your reasoning behind this and I remember agreeing completely )

    * What about WHS ultimate extras?  :P just teasing..

  • As the Windows Home Server team look at planning future versions Todd Headrick (Windows Home Server Product

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