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  • The Drive Extender News Follow Up


    In my two plus years of doing this podcast I have yet to see anything in this community as big as yesterday’s announcement by Microsoft.  Traffic to the site doubled and the forums lit up like an early Christmas tree.  It’s been 24 hours since the news was dropped and few things have happened since then.  First and foremost, episode 114 of the HomeServerShow.com podcast.  Recorded and published in one evening so hopefully you are able to grab it for your holiday weekend.  More on that later.


    Engadget.com has since picked up the story as well.  The bigger story is one by Paul Thurrot of winsupersite.com.  He shares a well written explanation of drive extender and also a few tidbits of knowledge that he was privy to above and beyond what Windows Home Server MVP’s were aware of.

    In a briefing last month, I was told that Microsoft and its partners discovered problems with Drive Extender once they began typical server loads (i.e. server applications) on the system. This came about because Drive Extender was being moved from a simple system, WHS, to a more complex, server-like OS )(SBS "Aurora") that would in fact be used to run true server applications. And these applications were causing problems.


    "Drive Extender was a neat feature, but the implementation was off, and we discovered some application compatibility and disk tool problems related to its ability to correct data errors on the fly," Microsoft general manager Kevin Kean told me. "We don't want to give customers problems; we want to give them solutions. So ultimately, we decided that we needed to cut out Drive Extender. Removing Drive Extender will make file shares easy, and it's possible to accomplish most of its features otherwise. For example, you use the server's centralized backup or even RAID as an alternative to data duplication."

    There are still a lot of things up in the air at this point.  What will the OEM’s do?  Will Vail be talked about at CES?  Questions I don’t have answers to.  I’m still confident in WHS v1 as it does exactly what I needed it to do out of the box.  File aggregation and PC backups.  Lets hope that the promised Vail release in 2011 will appease our file aggregation needs much like drive extender does on version 1 or else we all become Drobo experts when v1 support runs out.


    If you are interested in sharing your feedback with Microsoft on this issue a request to bring back DE to Vail has been opened by on of our forum members, Citezein.  At post time you can see the numbers for and against below.  This link is to Microsoft Connect and you will have to sign in to get to it.




    I’ve also seen a few comments and tweets about the podcast that need addressing.  The goal of this show was not to spend an hour bitching and moaning about the decision by Microsoft.  We could have easily done that as MVP’s love to complain.   Believe me when I say that MVP’s are not sitting idly by on this decision.  The discussions are intense and MVP’s are sharing their thoughts with Microsoft about it.   MVP’s are not required to bandwagon and defend Microsoft’s decisions and we don’t.  Just keep in mind that there are some things that the public does not hear about due to NDA’s.


    I chose to publish a show that tried to understand the decision and to explain why we were not happy with it rather than to lambaste Microsoft with unruly commentary.  I wanted our voices to be heard by Microsoft.  Sometimes the best way to do that is by discussion, not by calling them idiots.


    In trying to understand the decision we could be completely off base.  That’s the reason for this post as a follow up.  I do think I am correct when I said it was a decision for the business end of the product and home users are now to suffer.  Paul Thurrot’s comments on his post back that up.


    I think we made it clear on the podcast that we chose Windows Home Server over a RAID setup because of what drive extender offered.  I went around the table and made it clear that we were all capable of setting up a RAID system yet we chose Windows Home Server.  I even closed the show with my disappointment with Microsoft on the decision and how it would effect many owners and possible new users of the system.  I can’t be much clearer than that on how I feel about the issue.


    I don't normally "Passion Post" like this.  I just want you to know your voices are strong and you are supported.  Please feel free to visit the forums and leave your feedback for episode 114 here. There is also a reaction thread building here that could use your input.  Lastly, thank you for listening and for your passion surrounding this product.  Agree or disagree, I’m glad you listen and participate.


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    I have not yet had a chance to listen to the podcast 114 but I respect you guys, look forward to hearing your discussion and am grateful that you are in a position to make meaningful representation to Microsoft. I agree that a reasoned discussion is more likely to be heard than an unreasoned rant. As I see it, at a time when networks and multiple computer homes were becoming common, Microsoft produced a good consumer product, a server that was easy to understand for non-technical types like me and my family yet complete in fulfilling my requirements for data security as well as offering opportunities for further extension. Despite this promise Microsoft now seems to be withdrawing a major essential component of that product while not offering (at this time at least) any satisfactory alternative. The reasons for this neutering of the WHS seems to be that the consumer product did not work as well when pressed into the small business format. My view is, leave the consumer device suitable for the consumer market, it does not have the same requirements as the small business market. By all means make the progression from one to the other as smooth as possible but, please, do not make the consumer device more complicated, I do not want, and am not able, to become a full time server professional. Microsoft, please listen, the success of the Homeserver Show reflects the popularity and success of the HomeServer.
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    I guess my thoughts on the whole thing which were brought up on the live show are I am not that concerned about DE. I mean you have the option to stick with Version 1, see what Vail ends up with, or switch to a different solution...(Linux maybe?). I guess I don't know. I love WHS for it's simplicity in my use of it, but I can also understand why some people will be upset about the idea of no more DE. But you also have to remember (which was brought up on the show as well) is that for some reason MS made this a completely niche product... with little advertising, and they are always going to go where the most important money is, and that is the business consumer.
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    Dave, thanks for the clarification and guidance towards a valued discussion rather than just rants .....it's all to easy to rant!! From reading some of the more technical reasons for dumping DE ....I assume the issue is with DE version 2 as attempted in VAIL ....is this correct on my part? I gather also that DE version 2 started the movement away from the core directives behind DEv1....so the 'rot' started there. In attempting to fix some of the minor issues with DE version 1 ...we have ended up with a problematic child...that in the end was not compatiable with the underlying product base, Server 2008. Putting on my user hat and not PC enthusiast hat, I dont care what MS do with DE, as long as I have the same functionality that the original DE brought to the table. If they implement this with some new tech or existing tech, I don't care. If my files are protected from at least a single drive failure, OS Failure or my faulire (to some degree) ...I am happy. I am dissappointed that MS has lost some of the core intentions of WHS, along the development path. Hopefully, this groundswell of comment will get them to re-evaluate. I wonder if there could be options for Turning on or off DE (in its version 1 flavour) ......home users turn it on ....Business turn it off. Maybe tooo hard or resource cost ...I don't know. PS first time I joined the live podcast ....was a great experience. Phil.
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    Drive extender is holding up the development of WHS and it could cripple what application can run on Vail. Let’s move on with out drive extender. I just want a reliable automatic backup system for multiple PCs, remote access and my own cloud.
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