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Windows Home Server 'Vail' preview leaked

Windows Home Server 'Vail' preview leaked

Windows Home Server Vail - designed for use by OEMs and system builders - brings an app store and extensible architecture to the table.

A pre-release version of Microsoft's next edition of Windows Home Server - currently working under the codename 'Vail' - has been leaked to file-sharing sites.

As reported over on ZDNet, the Community Technology Preview Release 4 of Windows Home Server 'Vail' - released to a select group of testers by Microsoft prior to a public beta testing period - has found its way on to file sharing sites, giving the public a sneak preview of the features that will find their way into the next edition of Home Server.

Promising "simple file sharing, remote access, home computer backup, expandable storage through Drive Extender, and media streaming both inside and outside the home," the newest feature to be highlighted in this release is - believe it or not - an app store.

Described as "an application catalog and product-wide extensibility model," the marketplace - styled, it would seem, on that available for smartphone devices - will offer "new services such as anti-virus, online sharing, and home automation [which] can be seamlessly and easily added to the solution."

Right now the current versions of Windows Home Server already have an add-in feature, however the installation method is convoluted and finding new add-ins that you want is a chore of creative internet searching. It should also encourage smaller developers to take on making new add-ins that can generate revenue for themselves.

The system requirements for the software are interesting: available in a 64-bit edition only - at least for now - you'll need at least a 2GHz x64 processor, 1GB of RAM, and a storage device of at least 120GB. Vail offers no support for any file system beyond NTFS, but has had a version bump to its code base - bringing it up to Windows Server 2008 R2 level. The 2GHz CPU seems the biggest kicker here, as many WHS boxes are built on Intel's Atom technology that exclusively sits under this frequency threshold.

While the new version certainly brings a bit of innovation to the table - and hopefully leaves some of its predecessors foibles behind - notable in its absence is any mention of small business support and more intelligent data security. Previously, Microsoft has mentioned its desire to re-brand 'Home' Server and make it the entry-level Windows Server product for both home and small business users - bumping Windows Small Business Server one rung up the ladder.

For its part, Microsoft is staying quiet on this leak and refusing to offer any suggestions of an official release date for OEMs or system builders.

Can you see this latest version of Windows Home Server taking off, or is it a solution looking for a problem? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

29 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Jenny_Y8S 29th January 2010, 10:05 Quote
I wonder who in MS leaked this? I would say it was very likely to be a marketing ploy, look how well all those free beta of Win 7 went down, turned opinion.
But who needs a WHS anyway?
Bindibadgi 29th January 2010, 10:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenny_Y8S
I wonder who in MS leaked this? I would say it was very likely to be a marketing ploy, look how well all those free beta of Win 7 went down, turned opinion.
But who needs a WHS anyway?

I used one.

And it's utter ****. If a disk drops the services simply crash, and despite having "duplication" it copies the files TO THE SAME DISK

They are going to do a public beta anyway so someone outside of MS leaked it I'd imagine. Anything will be better than the current WHS, but none of us can upgrade because we'd loose all our data
theskirrid 29th January 2010, 10:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenny_Y8S
But who needs a WHS anyway?

I do.

1 shop PC, 1 notebook, 1 gaming PC & 1 media centre PC all backed up between midnight and 2am. They wake up from sleep, backup, and bugger off back to sleep again. Having been through data loss issues with the shop PC [theft], and the subsequent VAT misery, it was well worth £60+VAT and some old spares to keep all my data safe.
Anyone who wouldn't want their data safe is clearly a mental.

Bindi:- Mine has been trouble free, even when a 500GB disk failed, folder duplication worked fine for me. Post PowerPack 1 WHS has been utterly dependable.
If it looks like a required upgrade it's not a big deal. Install new WHS machine, re-install connector on clients, leave on for 8 hours, job done.

If you are using the WHS a a media server too, with media only stored on that server than it will be a big deal, but no-one in their right mind would have important data in only one place.
neonplanet40 29th January 2010, 11:06 Quote
Mines a pain in the ass. Constantly times out when trying to move files from server to pc. Im actually in the process of taking all data off now so that I can format the entire thing and start again.

I can assure you trying to move 5TB when a server constantly times out is a nightmare!
yakyb 29th January 2010, 11:32 Quote
not me i'm running 2008R2

but i would be interested in running this as a secondary to create weekly images
Steelez 29th January 2010, 11:45 Quote
Never had a problem with mine. Backups work flawlessly, I also use it for torrents and as a media server over the network. It's never crashed in the last 18months though I do have to install another hard drive as my current storage is just about full.
Bindibadgi 29th January 2010, 12:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theskirrid

Bindi:- Mine has been trouble free, even when a 500GB disk failed, folder duplication worked fine for me. Post PowerPack 1 WHS has been utterly dependable.

The folders duplicate onto the *same disk* though, at least this is what always happens on mine. I had a 1TB disk failure recently and instead of managing it properly it gave me 50 "duplication errors" which the only way to fix is to delete the files completely (that's MS official "help"!!) and then when I had to remove the disk the service crashed or it complained the disk was removed and just sat there refusing to do anything. In the end I had to format and restart the whole thing because it was unrecoverable.
theskirrid 29th January 2010, 12:01 Quote
Neon, are you networked via a router? Many of them can't cope with that kind of throughput. Or running on-access scanning AV software?
I dropped AVG and moved to MSE as the on access scanner in AVG made transfers awful.
theskirrid 29th January 2010, 12:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
The folders duplicate onto the *same disk* though, at least this is what always happens on mine. I had a 1TB disk failure recently and instead of managing it properly it gave me 50 "duplication errors" which the only way to fix is to delete the files completely (that's MS official "help"!!) and then when I had to remove the disk the service crashed or it complained the disk was removed and just sat there refusing to do anything. In the end I had to format and restart the whole thing because it was unrecoverable.

That doesn't seem right, I'm sure the whole duplication malarkey is supposed to use seperate disks, where available. Yep, page 8 reviewers guide for WHS.
Pre PP1 I had the corruption of shared folders bug, where one set got corrupted, and then duplicated, but this was fixed in PP1.
Since then no issues.

You have my sympathies for that man, that must have been a biyatch pita to sort out.
Rkiver 29th January 2010, 12:45 Quote
I use WHS on a HP EX470. Never an issue, and it doesn't back up to the same disk if you set it up to back up to a different one. Mine has 4 disks in it, the 500GB it came with, and three 1TB disks. I had one disk fail, replaced it, rebuilt, zero issues.

I for one would be tempted to give it a go.
Bindibadgi 29th January 2010, 13:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theskirrid
That doesn't seem right, I'm sure the whole duplication malarkey is supposed to use seperate disks, where available. Yep, page 8 reviewers guide for WHS.
Pre PP1 I had the corruption of shared folders bug, where one set got corrupted, and then duplicated, but this was fixed in PP1.
Since then no issues.

You have my sympathies for that man, that must have been a biyatch pita to sort out.

I was making up new swear words last Saturday.

I don't know why mine is copying data to the same disk then, but I put on 300GB of stuff and it just filled a single drive, and a little of the next one. There's four disks in it with 2TB!! Stupid, stupid thing :(
Burnout21 29th January 2010, 13:39 Quote
meh, its all crap far easier to run vista or W7 and use network drives, and VNC if required.
Fod 29th January 2010, 13:43 Quote
i hate to ask stupid questions, but are you sure you enabled folder duplication on those folders?
Bindibadgi 29th January 2010, 14:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fod
i hate to ask stupid questions, but are you sure you enabled folder duplication on those folders?

Yes. 110% sure.

Burnout - WHS has specific things that are tailored for headless use.
TheUn4seen 29th January 2010, 14:30 Quote
WHS is just a toy for posers wanting to tell everyone how cool and smart they are, having a 'server' at home, I don't really see this as a front page material.
Bindibadgi 29th January 2010, 14:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUn4seen
WHS is just a toy for posers wanting to tell everyone how cool and smart they are, having a 'server' at home, I don't really see this as a front page material.

That's kind of harsh don't you think? Actually we're reviewing a WHS from Asus right now, and there are plenty of people above who have told you that it works for them!
Rkiver 29th January 2010, 15:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUn4seen
WHS is just a toy for posers wanting to tell everyone how cool and smart they are, having a 'server' at home, I don't really see this as a front page material.

Just because you cannot see the advantages of having a home server (regardless of it being Windows or linux based) does not mean the rest of us cannot.

I use it for media streaming around my home, also backups of photos and important data from the computers in our home. Also being accessable from anywhere in the world via a web page login is rather handy.
Vigilante 29th January 2010, 16:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenny_Y8S
I wonder who in MS leaked this? I would say it was very likely to be a marketing ploy, look how well all those free beta of Win 7 went down, turned opinion.
But who needs a WHS anyway?

I used one.

And it's utter ****. If a disk drops the services simply crash, and despite having "duplication" it copies the files TO THE SAME DISK

They are going to do a public beta anyway so someone outside of MS leaked it I'd imagine. Anything will be better than the current WHS, but none of us can upgrade because we'd loose all our data

The leaked build is a CTP4 which was leaked by someone who was on the WHS Connect that had authority to download it.

As for duplication to the same disk, I thought that as well, until I tried to delete the files from another windows installation (I had a 250gb 2.5" hard disk in my home server, and the home server software was killed due to a version of Avast! WHS edition that died.)

Windows Home server creates file system hardlinks (another reason why WHS requires NTFS), which link to all the duplicated files across all drives in the system, allowing all the files to be accessed through a single folder.

I expected you of all people to know this Bindibadgi, I always thought you were a vast pool of techie knowledge.
Vigilante 29th January 2010, 16:54 Quote
Forgot to add, you can test this yourself by using a tool like the free JDiskReport utility - it reads the hardlinked files as being real, which means that it detects twice as much user data as there actually is - as is shown by windows, which can tell the difference.
neonplanet40 29th January 2010, 16:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theskirrid
Neon, are you networked via a router? Many of them can't cope with that kind of throughput. Or running on-access scanning AV software?
I dropped AVG and moved to MSE as the on access scanner in AVG made transfers awful.

Hi mate yea on my network there is a router but connecting my computer to the server is a 1GB switch.

I will turn off AVG on my computer now to see if that helps but I doubt it.

If you have any more ideas it would be greatly appeciated!

Neon
alextwo 29th January 2010, 18:04 Quote
Since I'm lazy, WHS suits me fine.

I've been using it with FlexRAID and only duplicating what I consider to be more important files. Haven't had a drive failure yet but hopefully this should give me another layer of protection against drive failure.
gagaga 30th January 2010, 01:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonplanet40
Hi mate yea on my network there is a router but connecting my computer to the server is a 1GB switch.

I will turn off AVG on my computer now to see if that helps but I doubt it.

If you have any more ideas it would be greatly appeciated!

Neon

I had problems with a realtek nic in the server .. quick switch to an intel nic card fixed it.

@Bindibadgi
Your problems sound odd .. i take it you're doing everything through the WHS interface rather than directly on the server, and that you're not using any disk utils against it? Most problems i've come across are to do with people using WHS to do things it was never designed to do, or using disk utils for other windows versions that don't understand how the tombstones work. A few friends have seen it as a cheap general purpose windows license and loaded all sorts of things onto it (one even uses it as his main computer).

As for the way it uses the disks, it tends to write to the fullest with enough space left for file copies, and to the most empty when creating / opening files directly on the server. A white paper on the MS WHS site explain the (clever, clear) reasons for this. You can get plug-ins to balance this out, but I don't really see the need.

Mine? I chose it over Win2008R2 and Windows Storage Server 2008. It's now got 13 disks in and since fixing the NIC issues (that cropped up with PC backups only) it's ran like a dream. Roll on Vail ...
crazyceo 30th January 2010, 13:26 Quote
WHS has been my best investment of last year. I've had numerous problems with hardware on systems all over the house with one component going after another dying but WHS saved my ass more times than I can imagine.

Nice interface, simple processes and automatic backups. Never let me down.

Every home should have one and in one way or another in the future they probably will.
Shagbag 30th January 2010, 23:17 Quote
I really can't see why anyone would pay for WHS given the free alternatives out there. It must be a point-and-click addiction thing.
Rkiver 31st January 2010, 00:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagbag
I really can't see why anyone would pay for WHS given the free alternatives out there. It must be a point-and-click addiction thing.

Ease of setup. I have built full scale servers (worked for company that hosts Warhammer Online) and have no problem with linux based servers. However WHS came with the hardware I purchased (HP EX470 for €150) and well, it just works, straight out of the box.
Burnout21 31st January 2010, 12:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rkiver
Ease of setup. I have built full scale servers (worked for company that hosts Warhammer Online) and have no problem with linux based servers. However WHS came with the hardware I purchased (HP EX470 for €150) and well, it just works, straight out of the box.

that is the one nice thing about WHS, the out of box instant function.

Im cheap so i have always gone the hassle route of building them.

Transfer speeds are my concern right now, i would rather spend a little extra and saturate my network than deal with ~30MB/s over USB. I shifted 850Gb or a 10MB/s connection due to a painfully crap SATA controller, 14 hours! :(

never again!! ever, twice i have done this and it takes the piss!
Bindibadgi 31st January 2010, 13:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vigilante
Windows Home server creates file system hardlinks (another reason why WHS requires NTFS), which link to all the duplicated files across all drives in the system, allowing all the files to be accessed through a single folder.

I expected you of all people to know this Bindibadgi, I always thought you were a vast pool of techie knowledge.

I have seen it with my own eyes, and experience drive failure that has lost me data even with duplication. Im not bullshitting, I've taken screenshots of the lost data, and that's what is happening on my WHS machine, again, right now. It's got a 1TB drive and two 500GB drives (+ install drive that hasnt been used).

I copied 150GB of music across after the reformat and restart, which it decided to then put entirely on the first 500GB drive. Then I watch it as it duplicated.. to the same drive, with a small fraction on the 1TB. It did this before as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gagaga
I had problems with a realtek nic in the server .. quick switch to an intel nic card fixed it.

@Bindibadgi
Your problems sound odd .. i take it you're doing everything through the WHS interface rather than directly on the server, and that you're not using any disk utils against it? Most problems i've come across are to do with people using WHS to do things it was never designed to do, or using disk utils for other windows versions that don't understand how the tombstones work. A few friends have seen it as a cheap general purpose windows license and loaded all sorts of things onto it (one even uses it as his main computer).

The only thing I run outside the WHS interface is uTorrent, which writes to a single folder. Everything else is within the WHS interface, including an official defrag util (that I no longer use). I only have it for torrents and storage, that's strictly all.
Quote:
As for the way it uses the disks, it tends to write to the fullest with enough space left for file copies, and to the most empty when creating / opening files directly on the server. A white paper on the MS WHS site explain the (clever, clear) reasons for this. You can get plug-ins to balance this out, but I don't really see the need.

I would rather there an advanced option set where I can select it to act like unRAID linux. The option for a dedicated parity drive, or a cache drive, or balanced out writes (to improve read response) would be better. I agree bunging all new data on one drive, then duplicating that across other drives is a nice idea, but I've watched mine ignore this protocol entirely. Perhaps WHS works best behind a hardware RAID 5/6 controller to see a single disk? No duplication required.
<A88> 31st January 2010, 13:51 Quote
I used one for a bit and found to be quite handy for doing the tasks that I didn't want burdening my laptop with- a few downloads here and there and ripping. Couldn't justify the need for it as a whole though so never bought the OEM OS.

If it does indeed have support for TV tuners and Media Centre recording though then it's perfect for my needs. I've been dying for it to have this since day one and would allow me to centralise the house's DVR system- we've got 4 Win7 computers and an Xbox360 under the TV so it should be ideal.
daveharnett 21st January 2011, 16:07 Quote
WHS has the potential to be a great product. Unfortunately, for V2 they have given up on (IMO) the single best feature - drive extender.

Drive extender is a little bit of magic which removes the need for logical drives. Rather than a collection of hard drives, you are presented with a single storage pool - you throw files at the pool, and drive extender figures out where best to store them. It's like software raid with none of the hassle or constraints - easily add or remove hard drives (of any size), expand the size of the pool etc with no rebuilding.

There were some data integrity issues early on in v1, and they never really got the performance right. Late in the development, they decided that getting it working properly was too hard (or possibly that it would undercut small business server) and gave up on the feature.

For me, that means that V1 is still a more complete proposition.
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