Monday, April 26, 2010

Windows Home Server Codename “Vail” Public Beta Available Today!

Today is an exciting day for me.  As you know, one of the products I work on is Windows Home Server.  Today we’re excited to announce that the next version of Windows Home Server (codename “Vail”) is available for you to try.  This is a BETA release, and while it may seem like you want to switch to it as your actual home server, we want to remind you that it’s still not sanctioned for production usage, because it just hasn’t gone through the hours of testing needed for us to feel confident that it’s rock solid.  Plus we’re still adding features!


What we do want to do with the Beta release, is get the public pounding away on all of our features, but most importanly our PC Backup and our new version of Drive Extender! We invite everyone to check it out by downloading the software from the Microsoft Connect site. (English language builds are available now).  If you don’t have extra hardware, Vail installs flawlessly into Hyper-V based environments and one of our MVPS already has a blog post on how to install it into VMWare.

What’s new?

  • Extending media streaming outside the home or office
  • Multi-PC backup and restore
  • Simplified setup and user experience
  • Expanded development and customization tools for partners

A Short Demo of the new features is available on Youtube

Before we go too much further, however, we want to pass along a couple of very important hardware-related tips on installing the Vail Beta:

  1. In Vail, we’re moving to a new underlying server platform that will only run as a 64-bit OS. We do not recommend running Vail on a 32-bit PC or existing Windows Home Server systems (even 64-bit Home Server systems) because there may be compatibility issues with some OEM drivers.
  2. Since it is still in ‘beta,’ please install the Vail code on a secondary computer as opposed to existing Windows Home Server v1 OEM systems (not even 64-bit systems) If you do install the beta on an existing system, you may experience a number of problems, including the inability to run WHS v1 add-in applications (even those provided by OEMs). Installing on a secondary machine will help ensure the best possible user experience, and we would like your feedback on what this scenario is like.
  3. Installation of the Vail OS on a PC will also require users to wipe all data from that PC or device.
  4. The hardware requirements for Vail call for a 1.4 GHz x64 processor, 1 GB RAM, and at least one160 GB hard drive. Full details and additional requirements will be posted on the Microsoft Connect download site.

Also, if you are a developer, this beta includes a new software development kit (SDK) that gives developers and partners even more ways to customize the OS and add new functionality and services to Windows Home Servers. Download the SDK here.

Finally, before you start filing bugs, some features yet to come are:

  • Changing a users password
  • Changing your home server password

Please refer to the official home server blog for the official announcement.

We look forward to hearing your feedback.  Please open issues and discuss on the Connect Website.