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Podcast 114, What do you think ?


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Last week's podcast was all about news, this week we skip the news and go straight into our feature. Drive Extender technology is removed from WHS v2.


Is this the beginning of the end for Windows Home Server or just a new beginning? You decide after listening to all we have to say about Microsoft’s announcement about pulling drive extender out of Vail. We have a lot to talk about on this episode and several folks joined up to do just that. Special thanks to:

Alex Kuretz

Timothy Daleo

Michael Martis

Zero news in this show. It’s all Drive Extender and Vail.

The Microsoft Announcement: Windows Home Server code name “Vail”– Update

The follow up: Windows Home Server code name “Vail” and Drive Extender

Alex’s thoughts: Is Windows Home Server Dead?

Great coverage of the breaking news by http://usingwindowshomeserver.com/2010/11/23/microsoft-announces-the-removal-of-drive-extender-from-windows-home-server-code-name-vail/ and http://www.wegotserved.com/2010/11/23/microsoft-abandons-development-windows-home-server-drive-extender/


What do you think ?

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My third live show in a row. Starting to become a regular part of my week. Last night's show was great and the ustream was the most active I have seen yet.

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Okay so I made the live show (at least for the beginning). Did you guys hit 50 or what?


I'll have to finish listening on my way home from work today but here are a few thoughts that I had. First off thanks to Dave, John, Jim, Michael and Tim for getting the show recorded and out the door so quickly. Given the news from MS you guys are a true benefit and testament to the WHS community. With all the questions everyone has having a forum to listen and speak up on this and get this Info. back to MS is a big help. MS should learn from all this that the enthusiast community is really something it should try and support, not take for granted.


While DE is a huge item in the "+" column for WHS it is NOT, by far, the only positive. So the hope is that Vail and Aurora will both still be great products in the end. I feel MS should have had the new beta all spun up and ready for release in conjunction with this announcement and not left us with a two (or more) month period of speculation. For the integrators out there does this perhaps present a bit of a silver lining in that we have another opportunity for value add for our customers? For our friends and family it might make recommending WHS a bit less of a no-brainer but really how many of the non-techie people you would recommend WHS to have Terabytes upon Terabytes of data to worry about? The end-user still gets all the PC backups, file consolidation, remote access and streaming stuff. Just a bit more front end planning for storage needs and again for integrators a bit more of an opportunity to let your services shine. Well those are my day after the dust settles thoughts.


Once again thanks to Dave and the crew and guests.

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This announcement kills my primary reason for getting into WHS in the first place. In 2006 I had a half-dozen randomly sized drives inside and hanging off of a desktop PC and was having a horrible time keeping track of where things were, was always running out of space and spending way too much time re-organizing. I also had absolutely no confidence in the reliability of my storage. I looked into a lot of different solutions including several flavors of NAS, unRAID, traditional Windows Server, etc. Nothing looked like it would work very well. When WHS was announced at CES in 2007, I jumped. I hit the internet and didn't let up until I had a beta invite. I've been running WHS ever since, starting with a minimum spec system and a test VM. Now I have a solid machine with data duplication that I don't need to worry about.


If MS has another standard method in mind that will grow as my needs change, provide an easy way to organize all of my digital "stuff" in one place, and provide peace of mind knowing that I won't lose all of my data because of faulty hardware I'm all for it. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be interested even in innovating on their own already proven technologies.


I doubt that they have a viable solution. If they did, there would have been some hint in the announcement that something even better is coming. It would be nice if they had a pleasant surprise in store with the next beta but there's not much to base that on. I'm hoping that more info comes out that gives us some kind of reassurance that MS hasn't completely bailed on the home market but I am hedging my bets and looking into alternatives. V1 meets my needs for now but Server 2003 is klunky as is to be expected of an OS that is over seven years old.


Passing the buck on fault-tolerance and storage expansion to the OEMs is just a bad idea. Harware RAID sucks, is costly and inflexible. I really doubt they'll be coming up with a Drobo-like solution with all of the other features WHS has at a price point even close to what you can pick up an EX495 for. The hardware just isn't there yet.


Pulling DE after disappointment of no V1 addon support really makes me wonder if MS has any strategy at all around growing the Home Server market. They've now burned both the 3rd party developer community and the enthusiast community. Who else is there left who will be willing to buy their product when they finally do release it?

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What do I think? Oh, where to begin. Let me condense my thoughts and reactions down to this point: Windows Home Server is mine. Do you hear? You business folks? Get off my lawn!


Anyway, moving on... This was a great podcast, and very timely in bringing in 4 guests who together with the regular crew formed a panel to react to this latest news. You HSS guys should think about doing this sort of thing more often, bringing on 3 or 4 guests at once. Good stuff. <--Drink. :)

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Yes, great show! I've only ever downloaded the podcast but with the news of DE it at least motivated me enough to listen in for the first time. I expected a "bitch fest" (judging by a lot of comments on various sites) but you guys handled everything as professional as could be expected given the news - and your comments at the beginning Dave I think helped set the stage!


As someone who hasn't been beta testing Vail, and I assume I'm not alone among your listeners, I haven't kept up-to-date on some of the benefits potential Vail users were hoping to gain. The one thing I did know was that there was a solution addressing the shortcomings of v1 inability to back-up the system drive. But, this one and only shortcoming in my view can be addressed with products like the Tranquil SSM that I reviewed OR the IcyDock you featured. I assumed over and above this that Vail was going to introduce "new" features - but like I said I haven't kept up.


If anything, this announcement has left I for one wondering if there's something with DE in v1 that may cause it to blow up down the road? Perhaps a show discussing any outstanding issues with V1 would be a timely refresher and could these be things that could be remedied in v2 without trying to position the product in the SMB market.

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I think your podcast missed its mark when it comes to the marketed home user such as myself. Let me explain, for years 7-10 I've owned a single drive linux based NAS product of some sort or another. At the time, I worked for a software company called Firstlogic and was surrounded by people like you(the makers of the podcast). I am not one of you, and as such when I started wanting to share files in our home to multiple computers, a coworker recommended a NAS. I quickly picked up a 150gb NAS and continued using such products ending with a Linkstation Pro 1tb. Over the years I had come to rely on a networked storage device. All my music/pics/videos resided on the NAS and allowed us all to enjoy the same files without having to leave a computer on. My Xbox and then PS3 seamlessly streamed my music through our home via multi-room receiver. To say the least, I was in love with the idea of a NAS. One day, the single nas drive started clicking and eventually turned off. I didn't know there were drive recovery options and assumed all was lost. I had learned a valuable lesson, don't just make ghost backups (something a Firstlogic geek taught me) of my computers, but I needed to make backups of my NAS files. I burned DVD-RW discs of my important files from that point on maybe once a month or so from the NAS.


I started looking into products like the ReadyNAS but was horrified by how complicated it seemed. I knew in time I would learn how to use it, but just wasn't ready to make the jump. I didn't like the idea if I wanted to use file backup, I had to backup all the data, not just my music or pics. I had to also backup the movies folder which would quickly consume most of the 1tb of space the ReadyNAS I could afford contained. I don't need to backup the movies, I have them on disc. While I was reading a forum (I do lots of research before I buy things) and over and over I read people talking about WHS. After further research I realized WHS was EXACTLY what I was looking for. I could enable share duplication on just my pics and music and thats it. I didn't have to waste a huge amount of drive space duplicating things I already had duplicates of. It made perfect sense. As my space requirements grew, I could just buy a drive and stick it in. Unlike the ReadyNAS where people explained I had to get bigger drives but I had to buy at least 2 and there were other things that I still have no idea what they were saying.


That was it, I ordered a HP EX487 (I built a PC once, and although very simple to assemble, that POS never worked correctly, so PC building is not my thing). It arrived, I quickly set it up and fell in love with WHS. So much so that I got my parents a LX195 (won it in a contest) with an external usb drive to enable duplication. My mom's an author the she is thrilled to not have to rely on my dad to make dvd backups of her books. Now the WHS backs up her books right away. She can open her book on the laptop or the desktop and not have to carry a flash drive around.


So what am I getting at? How did you miss the mark in your podcast for me? Why WHS is dead to me? In your podcast you all explained why this wasn't a big deal to lose DE. But all of you could easily build and maintain a RAID product, I can not, nor could my parents. But none of you do btw, well maybe Alex. You didn't talk about share duplication, the whole reason my parents and I bought our WHS. In time I planned on replacing my EX487 with a newer Vail box from HP probably and give my parents the 487. But now, if I have to learn RAID, or have to do any of the RAID type things with disc types, sizes...(you can tell I don't get RAID) then I will go Drobo. Only because it is dead simple for me to use and setup for my parents. My sister has a drobo for her business and loves it. PC backups are nice but I actually find it annoying that it backs up the PC daily. Then it complains our old XP computer hasn't been backup up in 5 days, but it doesn't matter it hasn't been turned on in 5 days. Now if they make a DE like service that for the average user works basically the same as it does now I don't care what technology they use so long as it works the same. But if they allow HP or Acer to make their own, I will have nothing to do with that. I LOVE my ex487 and my parents LX195, but what I have learned is the best parts of my 487 are things HP never touched. The things they implemented are junk. And to think I would have to rely on them to safeguard my data...HELL NO.


In the end, I'll keep my WHS 1 until it dies and when that days comes years from now I'll go from there. Maybe by then there will be a new product on the market (come on apple) that I will say "that's exactly what I need" like I did when I discovered WHS. But as it stands today, WHS Vail is dead to me and my parents.


I'm a long time listener of the podcast and will continue to enjoy it. Heck, it's one of the only reasons I know so much about my WHS. Just remember that not all your listeners are enthusiasts of WHS. Some of use are just plain folks using a product that was made just for us and marketed to us.


Jeff La Fleur

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Then it complains our old XP computer hasn't been backup up in 5 days, but it doesn't matter it hasn't been turned on in 5 days.

Quick aside: if you install the BDBB add-in you can change the amount of time before it bugs you about unbacked up PC's. I have a couple PC backups "archived" and set the interval to many years because those machines no longer exist, but I wanted to keep the backups.

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jeffla, thanks for your comments. :) and taking the time to write about your experience. All of us feel the same way. We love WHS.


You wrote "In your podcast you all explained why this wasn't a big deal to lose DE" but we could not just focus on how Microsoft shafted the WHS user, which they have and we all agree. We had to consider why or how removing DE could still make sense.


in a statement, Microsoft said that they will not abandon VAIL, but with removing DE which made it simple for all of us to add drives and have or data protected, I will be hard pressed to see if they come up will something better. Therefore I will not be upgrading.


It is a business decision that makes sense, but the result is that we WHS users feel that we got kicked in the teeth because we enjoy the product and feel that SBS swallowed up WHS, stripped it and are moving forward leaving the home server users in the dust. :angry:


On future podcast's we will discuss alternative to DE, but do keep in mind that I for one am not happy with how things unfolded here, but I have to accept it and move on. Although unless Microsoft gives me something better to replace DE, I will NOT be moving to VAIL. I will test other software products, but my core PC backup and file sharing will continue to be WHS v1.

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