Next Generation Windows Home Server Now in Beta

Microsoft has been hard at work on the next version of Windows Home Server – codenamed “Vail”.

This new version of Windows Home Server is notable chiefly for being based on Windows Server 2008 R2 — a major upgrade from the current version, which uses Windows Server 2003 SP2 as the underlying OS.

Essentially it’s an Operating System with a built in Media Server, Backup, Data Recovery, Document Management, Remote Access and a gaggle of “add-ons” bundled in; and allows you to build a reliable network at home!

The Windows Home Server team blog cites four key areas of improvement with the new version: extending the ability to stream media outside of the home network and over the internet; multi-PC backup and restore; simplified setup and user experience.

This time round the OS is 64-bit only, with no 32-bit version available. Minimum hardware requirements are modest: a 1.4GHz x64 CPU, 1GB or RAM and a 160GB hard disk.

Individual hard disks larger than 2TB are now supported, as are iSCSI storage devices, and drive removal operations have been improved.

Here is a screenshot of the new User Interface:

In the following video you will see a walk through of the new product UI and take a first look preview of Windows Home Server v2


What Is Windows Home Server

If you have multiple PCs with increasingly large amounts of digital photography, music, video, and documents, then protecting, organizing, and connecting this digital media can be a challenging task. Help with managing your digital dilemmas has arrived and it is called: Windows Home Server.

Windows Home Server, is a home server operating system from Microsoft. Announced on 7 January 2007, at the Consumer Electronics Show by Bill Gates, Windows Home Server is intended to be a solution for homes with multiple connected PCs to offer file sharing, automated backups, and remote access. It is based on Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2.

That said many small business owners working from home have found it to be a very valuable system for their businesses!



Windows Home Server features include:

# Centralized Backup – Allows backup of up to 10 PCs, using Single Instance Store technology to avoid multiple copies of the same file, even if that file exists on multiple PCs.
# Health Monitoring – Can centrally track the health of all PCs on the network, including antivirus and firewall status.
# File Sharing – Offers network shares for computers to store the files remotely, acting as a network-attached storage device. Separate categories are provided for common file types like Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos. The files are indexed for fast searching.# Printer Sharing – Allows a centralized print server to handle print jobs for all users.
# Shadow Copy – Takes advantage of Volume Shadow Copy Services to take point in time snapshots that allow older versions of files to be recovered. However, after introduction Microsoft has recommended not enabling shadow copies on HomeServer for unspecified reasons, and had not fixed the problem by September 2008.
# Headless Operation – No monitor or keyboard is required to manage the device. Remote administration is performed by using the Windows Home Server Console client software provided in the bundle. Also supports Remote Desktop connections to the server while connected to the same LAN.
# Remote Access Gateway – Allows remote access to any connected PC on the network over the Internet.
# Media Streaming – Can stream media to an Xbox 360 or other devices supporting Windows Media Connect.
# Selective Data redundancy – Guards against a single drive failure by duplicating selected data across multiple drives.
# Expandable Storage – Provides a unified single and easily expandable storage space, removing the need for drive letters.
# Extensibility through Add-Ins – Add-Ins allow third-party developers to extend the features and functionality of the server. Add-Ins can be developed using the Windows Home Server SDK, to provide additional services to the client computers or work with the data already on the server. Add-Ins can also be ASP.NET applications, hosted in IIS 6 running on WHS.
# Server Backup – Backs up files which are stored within shared folders on the server to an external hard drive.

Power Pack 1 for Windows Home Server was released 20 July 2008, Power Pack 2 was released 24 March 2009, and Power Pack 3 was released 24 November 2009.

Release of Windows Home Server V2 is reported to be sometime in 2010, although no firm release date has been reported.

Windows Home Server V2
will be built on the Windows Server 2008 R2 code base[1] (its predecessor having been built on Windows Server 2003) and will only support 64 bit hardware. Windows Home Server V2 will come in two editions, Standard and Premium. Microsoft has not commented on the feature differences between the two editions.

To read more about Windows Home Server go here:


Marc Liron
Microsoft MVP