by: David McCabe, Windows Home Server MVP
It's a catchy title so I couldn't resist. It could also be called, "Two Years from now." That's what I'm trying to wrap my head around. Two years from now.
More on that thought later but for now how about the Windows Home Server's death march? You can't tell me you didn't see it coming. Everyone is going to say, "I called it." "I knew it back when Microsoft ____________." Fill in the blank. Killed Drive Extender. Merged SBS and WHS groups. Lost HP as an OEM partner. Etc, etc. Congratulations enthusiast. You were just a part of a several year server trial. All your testing and trust into Windows Home Server product has now been placed in a new product called, Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
How about a parting gift? How does $425 dollars sound? All your hard work has earned you the right to pay $425 for the next version of Windows Home Server. Errrr, Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
Drive Extender has been resurrected if you haven't heard. It's called Storage Spaces and it's available in Windows 8 and the new Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
DLNA and Media streaming? That feature is moving to the new Essentials product.
Windows Home Server's single best contribution was it's ability to automatically backup every PC in the house. On top of that it could restore a PC from it's database to a brand new hard drive. Now it's in Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
Remote access? It's in there too and called Remote Web Access. All that testing you did trying to get into your sever from work, stream music, access files, all in the new product. Refined and working fine.
So thank you home user. Thank you enthusiast. You just helped create a mighty fine server product. Did I just hear a thank you? No, Microsoft is not thanking you. They also didn't want you to find out very easily. Instead of telling you to your face they decided to end your beloved server in a FAQ document. In a downloadable PDF! Times have changed but Microsoft's communication abilities have not.
What exactly is it that you want? What do you need right now and what will you need two years from now?
The way i see it is Windows Home Server 2011 users have a year if not two years of good use out of the platform. There is certainly no reason to go pull the plug on it right now. I don't see any reason to go put effort and money into a different platform either. In two years time we may even look back and wonder why we needed a backup repository in our homes.
Windows 8, tablets, and mobile computing are going to push us to cloud based backups much like the most popular tablet of the day is backed up and restored. All via the cloud. It's unbelievably simple to wipe out an iPad or iPhone and restore it to new with just your user ID. A Windows 8 tablet done right should be able to do this as well. The big question looms though, does Microsoft have a plan for this?
The powerhouse PC is often referred to as a truck. How many of these trucks are going to be in the household come 2 years from now? None? One maybe? I can honestly say that I don't know about my household. My PC probably. My two HTPC's? Probably gone. Kids? Right now they don't know anything but mobile devices.
I'm not trying to defend Microsoft's actions here. I'm trying to be forward looking. My needs are different than they were when I first installed my version 1 of Windows Home Server. Back then I envisioned my kids each having PC's, the wife's laptop, my laptop, my PC, etc. Today I could get by with a dual drive NAS and some offsite backup option. I would probably be just fine with a single truck and my trusty CrashPlan account. Who knows what I'll need two years from now.
Yet, the enthusiast in me still wants to see what my hard work has yielded. Thankfully I still have TechNet so it won't be as painful as shelling out $425 to find out. So bring on the product. Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Where can I buy it? Where can I download it?
Oh, it's going to come out as a beta? FFS, your kidding me right? I gotta test more? I'm outa here....