Like many of you enthusiasts out there, I’ve had the chance to play around with the Windows 7 Beta over the past few weeks. While I’ve certainly been impressed with its stability, ease of use and overall ‘smooth’ operation, what really struck home its value to me as a media fanatic – and relevance to Home Server - was reading a recent post on Gizmodo on the ‘Play To’ feature found in the upcoming operating system.
With more music stored up on my Windows Home Server than I care to think about (luckily all safely duplicated across a number of HDDs), I have a veritable mountain of media at my disposal. But actually accessing it – even with a number of networked streaming devices scattered thru my home – had proven illusive. Somehow, navigating thru countless (and somewhat awkward) media management UI was enough of a barrier (and a distraction) for me to not want to really put this scenario to use on a regular basis.
Until Win7, that is. With the music library on my HP MediaSmart Server as the backend, I can now fire up my trusty Windows Media Player UI on any Win7 PC in the house, point to an album, artist, genre or even playlist and with a right click, send a ‘play to’ command to my networked Roku Soundbridge in the kitchen – or the Xbox 360 in the basement. And a few seconds later, I’m enjoying said musical entertainment over ‘real’ speakers (vs. my laptop’s puny imitation). No confusing UI to navigate, or additional remote to pick up. All done from the comfort of my couch on my laptop.
What better way to showcase the combined value of the unlimited centralized storage of the Windows Home Server and the ease of use of Windows 7 awesome media features? One more reason why it’s a good idea to have both up and running in your house. (reason #1 of course – backing up your computer to Windows Home Server prior to loading Win7 – just in case. It’s still in Beta, after all. ;-)
How do you get Xbox 360 support? The only way Xbox 360 can support "Play To" is a dashboard update or when it is running as a media center extender. WHS doesn't do media center...
WHS has truly proved an essential tool for beta testing. I always create backup points prior to installing beta software.
I also find PlayTo to be a very powerful capability. There are few things that need to be improved upon however. Currently you cannot PlayTo from Media Center or Zune software...that has to be fixed pronto. As far WHS goes, I think PlayTo should be enhanced to support delegation. In other words, I should be able to tell WHS to play content to a specific device without my computer. My guess is PlayTo will be supported in WHS v2.
Sounds really cool. I was wondering if there will be support for Win7's Homegroups on the current WHS platform?