I was fortunate enough to be invited to beta test Windows Home server. This is the new Microsoft product that looks to provide centralized storage and backup for the ever-growing number of home networks. I have been too busy to do much with it so far but here's what I can tell you so far.
- The connector will complain that it can't install on Vista x64. To fix this, simply move the .DAT file that is on the connector cd to your desktop and change it's extension to .MSI. Then, open an elevated command prompt and run the MSI file. It will install without trouble. I did notice some oddity about shared folders so I'm not guaranteeing that it works perfectly but so far it's been ok here.
- At first it seems like a lot of noise about nothing when you see the shared folders appear on your desktop. I was thinking "crap, I can do that with XP". Well, not so fast. These shared folders support a technology called Folder Duplication. This is like software RAID only much easier to setup. As you copy or modify files in that shared folder, WHS will make sure that a copy of you file exists on other physical drives in the computer. That way, if one disk goes down, you can just stick in a new disk and WHS will suck it into the disk pool. Not rocket surgery (thanks Jim!) but nice.
- It's a stripped down build using the Windows Server 2003 code base. Things like the control panel are missing but you can install hard drives that are not part of the disk pool and you can install applications (though there is some concern that they might interfere with WHS). I installed a couple of printers, one of them a multi-function OfficeJet. I then proceeded to use the scanner wizard to scan in some photos.
- IIS is present so you can install a web site to view your photos or video while away from home. I really would like to see Microsoft include a default web site with gallery functionality with the final product.