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Introducing the Home Server

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In late 2007, Microsoft’s PC maker and hardware partners began shipping specially designed home server products based around a new operating system called Windows Home Server. Code-named “Q” (and previously code-named “Quattro”), Windows Home Server is just what its name suggests, a home server product. It provides a central place to store and share documents, along with other useful services for the connected home. Windows Home Server is designed to be almost diabolically simple, and after 2½ years of active development, Microsoft decided that it had achieved an interface that was both simple enough for the most inexperienced user and powerful enough for even the most demanding power user.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch; but given what it does—bring the power of Microsoft’s server operating system software into the home—Windows Home Server is pretty darned impressive. And if you’re in the Windows Home Server target market—that is, you have broadband Internet access and a home network with two or more PCs—this might just be the product for you. In many ways, it’s the ultimate add-on for Windows 7. From a mile-high view, Windows Home Server provides four basic services: centralized PC backup and restore, centralized PC and server health monitoring, document and media sharing, and remote access.

Truth be told, Windows power users don’t have to buy a prebuilt home server to get Windows Home Server, though we’ve both had excellent results doing so ourselves. Instead, if you’d like to purchase just the Windows Home Server software and install it on your own PC-based server, you can do so. Just visit an online electronics retailer such as Newegg.com and search for Windows Home Server. The software typically costs less than $100 in the United States.


Windows Home Server Evolution
The initial Windows Home Server generation, which is still current at the time of this writing, is based on Windows Server 2003, a previous generation version of Microsoft’s enterprise-class server OS. In addition to the initial release, Windows Home Server has also seen two major updates, Power Pack 1 (PP1) and Power Pack 2 (PP2). The first version of Windows Home Server provided all of the basics, which are still present in today’s product: PC backup and restore functionality, PC and server health monitoring, document and media sharing, remote access, and, as crucially, an extensibility model that enables developers to create add-ins, small software updates that enhance Windows Home Server’s capabilities in fun and interesting ways.

Windows Home Server PP1 was released in mid-2008. This update includes compatibility for 64-bit (x64) versions of Windows Vista (and Windows 7), server backup capabilities, improvements to remote access, and a number of other changes. Key among these is a fix for a data corruption bug that affected almost no users but was widely reported by the press.

Windows Home Server PP2 debuted in April 2009 and included features that made this product more interesting to the hardware makers that sell Home Servers. It adds support for the Italian language (in addition to the currently supported Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish languages), improves the SDK for developers, and vastly simplifies the “day one” experience (what used to be called OOBE, or out of box experience), reducing the number of steps a new user has to complete from 23 to 13. PP2 also includes a simplified and improved remote access experience, and enhanced media sharing, especially for Media Center users. Of course, Microsoft is also working on a next-generation Windows Home Server codenamed Veil, which will ship after Windows 7. Windows Home Server v2 will be based on the Windows Server 2008 R2 generation of server products that appeared alongside Windows 7 and will no doubt interact seamlessly with Windows 7 features like HomeGroups. Sadly, that product wasn’t ready for testing at the time of this writing.


In addition to Microsoft’s work on Windows Home Server, some key hardware partners have been working over the years to steadily improve their Windows Home Server machines with innovative hardware designs and interesting software solutions that extend core functionality through high-quality add-ins. Key among these is HP, whose MediaSmart Server line has proven to be the customer favorite in the United States, and for good reason: these machines consistently provide an even better experience than the stock Windows Home Server experience documented here. And yes, both Paul and Rafael rely on HP MediaSmart Servers in their own homes. These are excellent servers. HP currently markets two different MediaSmart families of servers. The high-end MediaSmart EX series is the mainstream Home Server and supports multiple internal hard drives. It’s shown in Figure 10-1. The HP MediaSmart Server LX series, meanwhile, is a one-hard-drive option that is aimed at the low end of the market, these servers can be expanded externally.

Source of Information : Wiley Windows 7 Secrets

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