Thoughts on Microsoft’s Windows Home Server Announcement at CES 2007


hp mediasmart serverIt looks like the guys at Microsoft have been following this website since its inception in 2003. I’ve been a big proponent of Network Attached Storage (NAS) storage solutions, along with Mediabolic’s model (via a media server software application) of sharing/auto-populating all available media from network connected PCs and devices, and it now looks like they’ve finally delivered a solution that blows away their previous campaign. One where one or more Windows Media Center Edition (MCE) Desktop PCs were needed to consume and stream user created and premium content throughout the home using client media adapter devices. But as many of you know, that model has certain pitfalls like requiring that users’ desktop MCE PCs be left on if they want to stream content to other rooms or access media from remote location. What’s more, under that scenario, users never were provided with an easy way to share content with other networked PCs. Well all that’s changed now.

Enter Microsoft’s Windows Home Server (WHS) Platform. From what’s been revealed so far at CES (see: item 1, item 2, WHS Fact Sheet), it’s the answer to all of our prayers. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Easy setup – users are given a CD to install software on each networked Windows XP/Vista PC that provides auto detection of the server and helps users create profiles
  • It’s always on and administered from any PC in the home
  • Expandable storage – WHS will allow users to add hard drives to their towers as needed or they can connect external USB storage drives
  • Automatic backups of media stored on networked PCs
  • Central point for accessing and playing back shared media and DRM protected content (this is key)
  • Remote access of stored content with private and public sharing capabilities – includes upload features
  • Remote access of desktop settings and applications when away from home
  • Desktop snapshots of all configured network PCs to help bring users back to any point in time if something should go wrong
  • Works as a central print server

Got to love all that! But here’s what I wish they added that hopefully we’ll see in the near future:

  • TV tuner card/CableCARD support so users can record and/or stream live TV – the benefit is that you don’t have to rely on your desktop MCE PC for this function, which as you already know is not “always-on.” Final result: Having one server unit to handle all recording and streaming out duties. But of course, the server would also pull content from all networked PCs to create a master library that can be accessed by both extender units (aka media adapters) like the Xbox 360 and other Windows XP/Vista PCs from any room.

Yup that’s it! One request. Can you believe that? Well that’s at least until I get my hands on one to play with.

Note: Image shown is of HP’s new MediaSmart Server [PDF Specs] that was announced at CES 2007 which leverages Microsoft’s Windows Home Server platform.





Filed in: Digital Media Servers


  • Genius74

    I’m digging your request. From what I was reading about this, I would have thought that was a given, but oh well.

    Here’s mine:

    Allow other MCE PCs to do what the 360 does:

    Pull everything from a central PC, including LIVE TV!

    Basically, become an Extender & Standalone.

    I don’t want to have TV Tuners in every PC (and run coax or whatever) to get it. But I need a PC and 360 in every room to get (streamed?) Live TV and play my HDD-based DVDs! :eek:

    I’ve given Transcode360 a go; it didn’t work to well for me, and TVersity? I couldn’t get to work at all.. :confused:

  • http://www.alexandergrundner.com Alexander Grundner

    That’s the idea. Have one server unit to handle all recording and streaming out duties. But of course, the server would also pull content from all networked PCs to create a master library that can be accessed by both extender units (aka media adapters) like the Xbox 360 and other Windows XP/Vista PCs from any room.

    * Note: I just added this comment to my WHS feature request.

  • Genius74

    Yes, I like that…

    Push and Pull (server) duties..

    I wonder what the newly announced Apple TV will be capable of?

    Edit:
    Looks like the Apple TV is a bust (for live TV).

    Now I’m hoping for a 360 Lite:

    It can only play XBL games

    No DVD Drive

    You can add the HD-DVD if you want

    It should be much smaller, quieter and cheaper.

    Me thinks $199 and this’ll blow everything out of the water!

    :D

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