Gates Details Industry Support for Home Server, Unveils System Builder Edition
- By Scott Bekker
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on Tuesday unveiled a system builder-focused
version of the forthcoming Windows Home Server and detailed industry support
for WHS, which is Microsoft's first consumer-oriented server software for personal
Slated for release later this year, WHS is designed to give home users centralized
data storage and network security and enable remote access and next-generation
home entertainment scenarios. While completely consumer-focused, the product
has some appeal for home offices and offices too small for Small Business Server.
WHS will support up to 10 users and a guest account. Gates made the WHS announcements
and demonstrated the product during his keynote at Microsoft's WinHEC show in
Earlier discussions of the product centered on OEM-only scenarios, where WHS
would be sold as part of a complete hardware/software system by companies like
HP, an early supporter. Last month, Microsoft hinted in an official blog that
distribution might be expanded, and Gates on Tuesday unveiled the version for
the system builder channel. The system builder category consists of tens of
thousands of mostly small partner companies who put Microsoft software on PCs
and servers, commonly whiteboxes.
"Using this version of the software, system builders worldwide will have
the resources and flexibility to provide customized, targeted Windows Home Server
products to meet the needs of a wide array of customer segments," the company
said in an announcement accompanying Gates' keynote.
Gates also announced several new OEM partners for WHS alongside HP. New products
are on the way from Gateway; LaCie, a maker of consumer external storage solutions;
and Medion, which will release a device code-named "Medion Home Server."
HP's product, called HP MediaSmart Server, is planned for this year.
Things are beginning to firm up on the software side, as well, where Gates
shared new support commitments by eight ISVs. The tools required to secure,
back up and optimize any operating system are beginning to emerge, with plans
to support Home Server by Diskeeper Corp. for its defragmentation software,
F-Secure Corp. for anti-virus and other security functions and Iron Mountain
for data protection services.
What makes Home Server interesting is on the application side, and here, too,
Gates had a lineup of ISVs with products in the works for WHS for home automation
(Embedded Automation Inc. and Lagotek Corp.), media streaming (PacketVideo Corp.,
SageTV and HP) and conversion of music CDs (Riptopia).
Microsoft has also announced a contest for developers to come up with new add-ins
and/or hardware for WHS. The program is called the Windows Home Server Code2Fame
Challenge and will end later this year with cash prizes for the winners.
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner, a sister publication of ADTmag.com.