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.
We are pleased to announce the Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 Beta which improves the Windows Home Server experience with Windows 7 and Windows Media Center by providing the following new features: Backup and restore of computers running Windows 7, Windows 7 Libraries integration, enhancements for Windows Media Center, and better support for netbook computers.
If you are running Windows 7 on your home computer and are a current Windows Home Server user, we need your help!
Important: You will need to sign up as a beta participant of the Windows Home Server program on Microsoft Connect in order to download the Power Pack 3 Beta. https://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer
Windows Home Server performs a full image-based backup of Windows 7-based computers, allowing for a complete computer recovery in the case of a hard drive failure, or restoration of a single file or folder in the event of accidental deletion or loss. After the Windows Home Server Connector software has been installed on a computer running Windows 7, Windows 7 Backup warnings will be suppressed and users will no longer receive a notification to back up their computer. Windows Home Server can back up Windows XP SP2 or later, Windows Vista and Windows 7-based computers.
Windows 7 – Backup Windows Home Server completes an automatic image-based backup of Windows-based computers every day.
Power Pack 3 Beta will add Music, Photos and Videos shared folders on the home server to Windows 7 Libraries making the content available for applications such as Windows Explorer, Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player and other applications that use Windows 7 Libraries. This allows users to quickly access all their content in one organized place that is always available, searchable and expandable. Users can also search a specific library without having to know where the files are stored.
Windows 7 – Libraries – Pictures Windows Home Server content is automatically added to Windows 7 Libraries after installing the Windows Media Center Connector software.
Windows 7 – Windows Explorer Jump List – Music Library Users access the libraries through Jump Lists by simply selecting Music, Videos or Photos. All content is accessible from one organized location.
Windows Search 4 has been included with Power Pack 3 Beta to improve query search times, indexing times and reliability. If users are searching across multiple computers, extended remote discovery increases the efficiency of searching across all document libraries. Files encrypted with Encrypting File System (EFS) are now supported with search.
The image below is an example of searching across a music library where files are located in multiple places: the home computer Music folder, the home computer Public Music folder, and the home server Music shared folder. Users can add other locations to Windows 7 Libraries.
Windows 7 – Libraries – Music – Searching for Aerosmith music content on the home server Searching for content in the library folder will not only search the home computer but also search the home server.
Power Pack 3 Beta makes Windows Home Server compatible with netbook computers that have small screen sizes and low resolution. A home server makes a great storage and backup solution for ultra-portable computers.
Last March, Power Pack 2 added functionality that allowed Windows Media Center and Media Center Extenders to easily access the content on a home server. Power Pack 3 Beta builds on this functionality. When the Windows Home Server Connector software is installed or updated on a Windows Media Center computer, the next time a user starts Windows Media Center they will be prompted to install the Windows Media Center Connector. Users will notice a new Home Server selection in Windows Media Center menu.
The TV Archive tile in Windows Media Center will give users the option to move recorded TV content to the home server in a variety of resolutions. The recorded TV shows are archived in the correct resolution for the type of device that will be used for playback. TV Archive is optimized for Windows Media Center computers, Windows Mobile-based phones, and the Zune player, however, any device capable of playing WMV files can take advantage of this feature.
· TV – Original Resolution
· Windows Mobile – 320 x 240, 500 Kbps, .WMV
· Zune – 640 x 480, 1500 Kbps, .WMV
Users can select individual TV shows, a series of shows, or all TV recordings to automatically be moved to the home server. Because Windows Home Server storage space can be easily expanded, users can keep all the TV shows that they want in their collection.
Windows Media Center view – Home Server – TV Archive view
Console Quick View allows users to see statistics about the home server through Windows Media Center and Windows Media Center Extenders. This is a convenient way to view many aspects of the home server without needing to access the Windows Home Server Console. This feature allows users to view and monitor a number of home server indicators:
· Storage – Pie chart listing the percentage allocation of the home server storage
· Drives – List, size and health of hard drives installed on the home server
· Backup – List of computers being backed up and their current backup status
· Shared Folders – List of Shared Folders by name with health status and duplication status
· Media Counters – Count of music, photos, videos and recorded TV files on the home server
· Health – Health of the entire home network
· Home Server – System information of the home server’s hardware and manufacturer info
Windows Media Center view – Home Server – Console View
Timing of the Power Pack 3 final release has not been determined. With your help to test the Beta, we hope to release the update prior to the Windows 7 General Availability date of October 22. Power Pack 3 will be a free update to existing Windows Home Server users via Windows Update. Thanks for your support!
- The Windows Home Server Team
The first minor release of Windows Home Server was announced today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Power Pack 1, formerly code named "UR1", will ship in the first half of 2008 and be made available to existing customers of Windows Home Server via Windows Update.
Power Pack 1 has some great new functionality. A high level overview is included below and we will share additional details in more blog posts throughout the week.
Windows Home Server Connector Software
When Power Pack 1 ships, the Windows Home Server Connector will be able to be installed on home computers running Windows Vista x64 editions.
Functionality is added to detect that the version of the Windows Home Server Connector software is aligned with the version of Windows Home Server software. Users will be prompted to update either the home computers or their home server software under certain circumstances.
You can also install the latest version of the Connector software over your home network from the Software shared folder on your home server via a handy web interface.
Windows Home Server Data Backup
While adding a hard drive to Windows Home Server, a user is now presented with an option to use the hard drive for backing up the home server.
Once this option is selected, the home server will appear in the Computers & Backup tab - where a user can decide what information they want to store on this hard drive.
Just like with your home computers, you can view the backups stored on these hard drives and choose to restore the files, photos, etc. back to your home server.
You can also backup and restore and the entire home computer backup database.
When adding/editing a user in the Home Server Console, in addition to enabling remote access for that user, there is now a drop down list box that allows you to specify whether the user will have access to the computers tab, the shared folders tab, or both tabs when logged in with Windows Home Server Remote Access.
A new ‘Views’ drop-down list is added for the Shared Folders tab in remote access which allows the files in a shared folder to be displayed either as a list of files (‘Details’ view) or as thumbnails (‘Icons’ view). In ‘Icons’ view, the majority of the picture files will be represented as a thumbnails, and the rest of the non-picture files and folders will be displayed as large icons.
File upload functionality has been improved for users of Internet Explorer 6 and 7. Users can drag and drop multiple files directly into an upload area or select multiple files in the open file dialog for upload. Upload progress reporting has been improved, with the addition of a progress bar and individual file upload status. Ability to cancel the multiple upload has been added as well.
When you download multiple files, you are now given the option to package the files in a self extracting executable (.exe) file in addition to being able to store them in a ZIP file.
Home Computer Backups
If the backup database on the home server has a consistency error, you can now use the backup database repair wizard to attempt to correct this error. The repair wizard can be launched through the Backup Settings page in the Windows Home Server Console.
Also, a new option has been added to the Windows Home Server Connector tray icon that allows the user to enable or disable the home computer from waking up for backup if it is in sleep or hibernation mode.
And More ...
There are some more great things to shared about Power Pack 1 that we will cover in more blog posts throughout the week. As always, if you have questions about Power Pack 1, please ask them in the Windows Home Server Community Forums, as we have lifted the embargo from our beta testers, so they can now answer questions, blog about it and help everybody learn what is coming ...