Recently Microsoft launched the Windows Home Server which is an ideal hardware/software tool for home users with multiple computers (and related projects) and as related to some of you in this audience, smaller businesses operating from home.
We interviewed Joel Sider, senior product manager of the Windows Home Server team at Microsoft. Before getting into the interview here’s a few more details of the product for you.
Microsoft’s Small Business Server has been a very popular tool serving the small business market (75 computer users or less). It has just about everything you need to manage and protect your businesses network. It’s part of the Windows Essential Server Solutions Product Line
Windows Home Server helps you backup and protect files, access them remotely and share them with others and is targeted specifically at the small office home office user.
Windows Home Server helps people stay connected at home and offers remote access
For example, a reader who runs a catering service from home hires an accountant who works out of a corporate office. With Windows Home Server, the reader can provide log-in information giving his/her accountant access to and the ability to save files directly on the home server.
Windows Home Server provides automatic back-up and duplication of shared files
If for any reason important business documents are deleted or lost in an accident, you can restore individual files or folders or your entire home computer from backups. Also, a Windows Home Server device with two or more computers will enable duplication of shared folders, so if the hard drive of one computer fails, no data will be lost.
Windows Home Server automatically monitors the health of all PCs and provides a secure platform for digital content
Windows Home Server is designed to work in broadband connected households that already have a broadband router / firewall device. It is built on the proven technologies of Windows Server, offering an additional level of protection to safeguard the network and important files.
How does Windows Home Server differ from Microsoft Small Business Server?
Small Business Server is designed for professional organizations of up to 75 users that require more sophisticated IT infrastructure, such as an on-premise email server, a platform for business applications and more in-depth system management.
Windows Home Server is intended to help households with multiple PCs protect, organize and share digital media. It is a great solution for home-based businesses to ensure that all business data and PCs are backed up and secure, to centralize and store business information, and to access and share that information from anywhere – even on the road. It’s easy to setup and ideal for people juggling huge amounts of work and personal data, including documents, photos, music, digital videos, etc. Interestingly, a number of small business technology consultants have told us that they add Home Server to Small Business Server networks, to provide backup for important PCs, such as the business owner’s or CFO’s.
Is this product for businesses in a traditional office as well – or marketed to “in home” use?
Windows Home Server is primarily a home-use product for consumers to better manage and access their digital files – either for personal enjoyment or work purposes like running a home-based business. Microsoft offers solutions such as the Small Business Server for customers in traditional office environments.
What hardware partners, other than HP are selling it?
In addition to the HP MediaSmart Server, hardware partners including Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, Tranquil PC, Velocity Micro, MaxData and others are offering Windows Home Server products. A wide range of system builders, such as Ace Computers, Advantec, PC Club and others are offering pre-built Windows Home Server systems, too.
Isn’t there a Microsoft media server for the home as well?
Perhaps you are referring to Windows Media Center which, in addition to regular PC productivity uses, is able to record and stream media to devices in the home? Windows Home Server complements a Media Center PC by providing a backup of the PC, as well as a place to store and organize large amounts of digital media. Home Server serves as a media server on its own, as it can stream media to home computers (including Media Center PCs), Xbox and a variety of other devices such as DirecTV boxes, HP MediaSmart televisions, and other devices that support the Windows Media Connect protocol.
Does WHS use parts of Sharepoint and/or other Microsoft tools for some of the sharing? Protecting? Or other offerings?
Customers are able to securely access their Windows Home Server through a free Windows Live domain name, and they can provide friends and family with access to certain content that way, too. It does not use Sharepoint technology. The PC backup and restore technology was developed specifically for Windows Home Server. Windows Home Server pulls information from Windows Vista Security Center on home computers, thereby monitoring the health status of PCs. It is worth noting that there are more and more third party solutions available as “Add-Ins” to run on Windows Home Server, providing additional capabilities, such as advanced media sharing, home automation, personal blogging, security and more.
What are the offsite file backup options? Is there a dedicated service provided by Microsoft? (If the server is in your home along with your computers and you have a disaster like flood or fire how is your data protected?)
The new Power Pack 1 update for Windows Home Server, currently in beta and due for release soon, allows you to back up your Windows Home Server to external hard drives. This provides added protection in case of flood, fire or theft, for example. In addition, there are 3rd party applications available today such as Jungle Disk (http://www.jungledisk.com/homeserver/index.aspx) that offer “cloud” backup for data stored on Windows Home Server.