Windows Home Server: A server for the rest of us



We’ve all heard the one about Microsoft taking over the living room before: as digital technology extends its reach from the computer into the realm of digital media, Microsoft has increasingly been looking toward digital audio and video as a future area of growth. And as any Xbox owner can tell you, Microsoft is already in millions of living rooms across the globe. So, if Microsoft in the living room is old news, what’s new? The fact that it looks like they’re finally getting it right.

Leading the charge is Windows Home Server, the hardware/OS combo that has been shrouded in secrecy for the past year. Until recently, most folks didn’t have much of an idea at all as to what the OS does. With the first devices getting set to roll out, however, we now have a much clearer picture of what Windows Home Server is going to entail and if early reactions offer any indication, it’s going to be worth the wait. For between $600 and $750, you’ll get a device with 500GB to 1TB of storage, capable of streaming media to devices all over your home network, automatically backing up all of your PCs and creating webpages for the sharing of your photos.

If you think about it, those are pretty common tasks that anyone with a home network, two or more PCs and a lot of digital media is going to want to perform. Until now, however, the solutions to those problems have been a too bit complicated–not to mention too expensive–for the average user. Sure, you could sling a 1TB external hard drive off of your router–but the price of that drive and a USB/Firewire compatible router will probably set you back $500-700. And even then, you would have to manually set up and maintain that network drive, which, as anyone who’s ever run a home network setup can tell you, can be more more of a pain than you might think.

That’s why the Windows Home Server is so attractive: it’s cheap, it’s easy and it’s a one-box solution that manages your backups and media streaming via the WHS OS. But does it really work as advertised? According to Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research, "It’s great. It’s simple and it works."

Microsoft might have finally gotten it right with Windows Home Sever, the platform that could usher in the home media server "for the rest of us." One challenge remains however: the company’s marketing of the platform holds the ability to make or break Windows Home Server. How do you go about selling a network device to folks who don’t even know that they need such a device? Furthermore, is it a home media server? An automated backup device? A massive storage solution? In reality, it’s all three but Microsoft will have to find a way to make it sound sexier if they want folks to pick one up on a whim at Best Buy. The age of servers for home networks may be upon is–now, it’s just a matter of selling the things. –Mehan

More stories about Windows Home Server   Storage   Server   Networking   Microsoft Windows   Microsoft  


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