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.
I have always wondered what it was (is) like to be one of the last ones to get access to electricity or to be able to have a telephone line at your house. I own a piece of property that got access to electricity in 1940, telephone lines didn't come until after World War II. Today, the best dial-up connection that I ever get is 40 kbps, and the only way to get broadband (aka "a high speed internet connection") is to sign up for satellite service - which is a little too expensive for my tastes. A "wired" broadband connection is only 3 miles away, but it seems like a long 3 miles as it may be years before that trunk line gets extended to my house.
Broadband access and capabilities differ from neighborhood to neighborhood, city to city, county to county, and state to state in the United States. More often than not, it is the rural communities that are the last to gain access to these "wired" innovations. The speeds and availability of broadband also greatly differs from country to country. South Korea is the "most connected" country in the world with 70-80% of the households have a broadband connection.
To help understand all of the differences, perhaps you could respond to these questions as a comment to the blog:
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")