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Windows Home Server 'Vail' preview ready for download

Windows Home Server 'Vail' preview ready for download

Windows Home Server 'Vail' is now available as a final preview before its RTM release.

Microsoft has made the last preview release of Windows Home Server 2 available, codenamed 'Vail,' prior to it being released to manufacturing.

The new release, which updates the core of the software to the same base as Windows Server 2008 R2, is claimed by the company to offer a significant improvement over its predecessor. Among its new features are the ability to stream media across the Internet, enhancements to the backup and restore process for multi-PC households, and a simplified setup process.

As its name suggests, Windows Home Server is designed to create a simple media and storage server device in your home, while providing the ability to automatically back up critical files from Windows PCs. However, early issues with file corruption meant that adopters of the first few Home Server products on the market didn't have a great experience.

This latest release makes it considerably easier for an end-user to install the system, unlike the original Windows Home Server which was aimed at OEM deployment on pre-built miniature server boxes. The ability to stream media, including videos and audio, from a Home Server to external devices while on the move is certainly welcome too - and something that was missing from the original release.

Although not due for commercial release just yet, Microsoft is making a trial version of the software available for download to members of its Windows Home Server Connect programme, which is free to join. To download Windows Home Server 'Vail,' simply sign up on the official site.

Will you be giving Vail a chance, or have the issues with the original Windows Home Server package put you off? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

31 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
neonplanet40 4th February 2011, 17:30 Quote
Should you not mention that they dropped drive extender making it a pointless OS for a server? Without drive extender your safer using Linux :)
doggeh 4th February 2011, 17:35 Quote
Completely agree with neonplanet40... Drive extender was the ONLY good thing about WHS.
thogil 4th February 2011, 17:51 Quote
There is little reason to update from v1, now that they have dumped drive extender.
ADJB 4th February 2011, 18:12 Quote
Just before Christmas HP were doing a cracking offer on there mediasmart servers (£50 off, 8% Quidco and then another £75 cashback) so i dived in and got one then knowing full well Vail was on the way. Last chance to get a good media server / backup box with drive extender. Losing drive extender was a deal breaker for me so I bought it 6 months before I needed it to avoid Vail.

Highly recommended box BTW - dead easy to set up and use, quiet and unobtrusive.
WarrenJ 4th February 2011, 18:15 Quote
I've tried for years to find a good Home Server to no a'Vail
saspro 4th February 2011, 18:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by doggeh
Completely agree with neonplanet40... Drive extender was the ONLY good thing about WHS.

But there was too much loss of space for us users with big libraries.

As this is essentially SBS 2011 Essentials it'll support RAID so you won't need drive extender
GravitySmacked 4th February 2011, 18:32 Quote
The original WHS was an interesting product, this version not so much from what I've read. Win XP works just fine for my server needs though.
artcab 4th February 2011, 19:16 Quote
Quote:
As this is essentially SBS 2011 Essentials it'll support RAID so you won't need drive extender

Which is precisely why MSFT dropped drive extender - WHS was cannibalizing sales of SBS since it's so dead simple to add storage - WHS was the poor man's SBS. RAID is fine but means that "Mom and Pop Inc." will need to spend some IT consulting bucks having a geek come in to set it up.
Redbeaver 4th February 2011, 21:33 Quote
ever since i learned about the name.... itve always annoyed me...

Vail.

really, Microsoft?

Windows VAIL?

YOU VAIL, MS!

VAIL...............

/sigh
leexgx 4th February 2011, 21:35 Quote
It lacks de, raid not expandable like Whs
Gundam God 5th February 2011, 00:04 Quote
All they had to do was swap the server 03 parts for server 08 parts and people would be lapping this up.

Instead they remove the only worthwhile feature for getting whs making the new version a complete non starter.
ADJB 5th February 2011, 00:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by saspro


As this is essentially SBS 2011 Essentials it'll support RAID so you won't need drive extender

I think you miss the point of drive extender. The ability to just add another drive and have it added to your storage pool is very handy, the "Raid" aspect is still there with duplicated files so effectively you still have redundancy without having all the rebuild hassle.
ThunderBob 5th February 2011, 02:03 Quote
Used WHS (which was fine after Powerpack 1).
Currently using WHS2 on a trial server. Wont be buying it now as i liked the Drive Extender feature.

Moving my server to Amahi (Fedora Linux based) which has most of hte abilities of WHS including DE (has a feature called Grey Hole).
Was wondering how long it would take MS to ruin this product and wasnt surprised when they dropped the DE removal bomb.
jadawgis732 5th February 2011, 07:36 Quote
holy ish I am so glad you guys said something, I have 4 1.5/2 Tb drives in my WHS box and I was downloading the RC as I write this for install.
Saivert 5th February 2011, 12:20 Quote
they dropped the Drive extender because people had problems with it.

quoting from anandtech article. "Ultimately Microsoft is citing the feedback based on the potential drawbacks of DE v2 such as the inability for other OSes to read DE v2 disks, and what Microsoft believes is a diminished need for DE with the availability of 2TB+ hard drives. "
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4030/windows-home-server-v2-vail-drive-extender-v2-dismissed

I personally never understood or liked the Drive Extender system. I didn't even know how it was implemented. It seemed too fragile. And why did it create separate drive letters for "Music", "Documents", etc?

I'm more confident with a simple RAID setup instead. And regardless of what you choose you still have to make off site backups in any case if you actually care about your data. Neither Drive extender nor RAID is any backup solution if it is only stored in one place.
neonplanet40 5th February 2011, 14:08 Quote
To be honest if I wanted RAID I wouldnt have got WHS> The whole reason I got it was because ease of use. Microsoft was jsut too lazy to fix the problems and they somehow think that this product will sell? Its rediculous.

The whole point of a universal home server is ease of use. once RAID comes into play its no longer "plug and play" like WHS with DE was.

If I want RAID ill have linux thanks, not a £100 piece of software that is inferior to their last product. yet another fail from Microsoft.

No doubt Apple will bring out an iBox and lap these people up .
bigkingfun 6th February 2011, 00:47 Quote
Remember to put Vail in the pipeline guys. :)
DarkLord7854 6th February 2011, 06:05 Quote
Reason I bought WHS was DE. Pop in drive, click configure, done.

No DE, no buy. I just wanted a simple solution that required little to no effort to operate, maintain, and extend. I'll be staying with WHS Powerpack 3
ThunderBob 6th February 2011, 18:41 Quote
I now have a server running Amahi (Fedora12 release) and it was simple to install (FULL instructions on the Amahi website with Screenshots) and it has the features of WHS before losing DE.

Just stuck 2x2TB drives in it for testing and i have a 4TB pool (or close).

They are in the process of releasing a Fedora 14 version this month so now is a good time to look at this server.

Stable, LOTS of apps (addons) and easy.

Install this and dont look back :)
Votick 7th February 2011, 14:21 Quote
tbh they should have exchange built in.
If I'm sticking all my files, media and stuff on it why not my emails :/

Now I have to run 3 servers.
steveo_mcg 7th February 2011, 14:33 Quote
Any one who wishes similar functionality and with a bit of aptitude should be able to replicate this very easily using LVM under Linux, mostly plug and play but with out a fancy UI to hold your hand.
Risky 7th February 2011, 15:34 Quote
WHS1 will have to do for me. DE is a great, the client backup and restore are very straightforward.

I looked at the Linux alternative but it doesn't look quite ready yet - adding disks sounds a bit involved and you have to roll your own backup. Fine if you want to play with it but this is a bit of my setup I don't want to spend time on.
Hakuren 7th February 2011, 16:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonplanet40
Should you not mention that they dropped drive extender making it a pointless OS for a server? Without drive extender your safer using Linux :)

Exactly. WHS without DE is completely pointless product/object. Like buying new car without fuel tank.

M$ made some massive humiliating cock-ups along the way, but this must be one of the biggest.
Snips 7th February 2011, 16:42 Quote
If you have built your home server correctly, sorry to play devils advocate but shouldn't you put the drive capacity in at the beginning? That's what I did with 6 TB of spinpoints in WHS.

If Vail doesn't have DE, I won't miss it. Everything else will just be a bonus for me.

Microsoft are only adopting the changes made by the feedback from their own supporters. Half commenting on here haven't used WHS anyway, so what's the problem?
steveo_mcg 7th February 2011, 16:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
If you have built your home server correctly, sorry to play devils advocate but shouldn't you put the drive capacity in at the beginning? That's what I did with 6 TB of spinpoints in WHS.

Arguably thats exactly the wrong thing to do though. Is it better to spend £60x6 (£360) up front or less money over the course of the time you take to fill the data, say over 2 years during which time the drives get cheaper.
Snips 7th February 2011, 18:31 Quote
The F3 Spinpoints have been similarly priced for some time now. Once you turn duplication off all the unnecessary folders, I won't see myself running out of space anytime soon.

I'm more interested in online streaming than whether I can add new drives. Vail will be welcomed by me and by the sound of it, the Microsoft community who asked for the changes in the first place.
Risky 7th February 2011, 19:10 Quote
I'm not sure what the "unnecessary folders" would be, I have duplication running on the lot. Problem is now If I build it using raid I need to have a spare drive set aside for failure as when it comes to a fail I can't guarantee that drive model will be easily available.

Hell I had a Raid 5 & hotspare config on my old desktop (2410SA card) and evenutally the bloody card failed. I wasn't likely to find a replacement easily, but thanfully the machine was backed up on WHS! As it happened in this case I didn't buy a new drive for the desktop but bought a 1TB fro the WHS box and told it to remove one of the original 500Gb which they went into the desktop and took the restore off WHS without issue.

Raid is a fine solution in a corporate environment when you've got spare drive in the cupboard or have a vendor that will supply them, but isn't as great for a server stuck it the loft for your family stuff.
Risky 7th February 2011, 19:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
Vail will be welcomed by me and by the sound of it, the Microsoft community who asked for the changes in the first place.

The WHS Community seemed to be spitting mad over DE being pulled iirc.
Snips 7th February 2011, 21:34 Quote
Why has the community swayed Microsoft to do this?
Risky 8th February 2011, 08:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
Why has the community swayed Microsoft to do this?

I think it was just a technology that they couldn't be bothered to keep working with.
Snips 8th February 2011, 10:21 Quote
The community couldn't be bothered? So why flame Microsoft now for doing what they've been asking for?
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