Thoughts on Windows Home Server

I’m kind of disappointed in OSNews readers right now. We have an article running right now called “Gates Wants a Server in Every Home.” It discusses the upcoming “Windows Home Server.”

Now, as anyone who reads my blog knows, I am very into Mac hardware and software these days, but this product has me legitmately excited. It’s great, and I see TONS of need for something like this. You see, as computers become more like TVs in that families begin to routinely have more than one in the house, it becomes necessary to have a central storage hub and a decent redundancy system. No one has anything like this today, pretty much you have (1) burn to DVD, (2) external hard drives, (3) iPods, which some people use this for backing up music, and (4) actual server OSes, which is generally limited to techies.

So, read the comments on OSNews and you’ll find a general anti-Microsoft vibe. If Apple announced this, people would be going bat shit for Mac Home Server. Seriously, imagine if you could buy some sort of $299 Mac device and set up .mac on your computer to sync to it. People would go absolutely bonkers to get one. But Microsoft releases it and people call Bill Gates crazy or just ramble on about how it’s a bad idea.

I’m so tired of the online tech crowd being so black and white. I’m tired of the battles. I’m tired of the stupid fighting – Gnome/KDE, Microsoft/Apple, Ubuntu/Fedora, Microsoft/Google, it goes on and on. And it’s tiring. No company is truly 100% good or bad, and Microsoft is capable of releasing hits (Windows 2003, VSC, GroupShot) just like Apple is capable of releasing misses (Aperature 1.0, Backup 3, the entire .Mac product). I just prefer Apple, but I don’t carry on like a fourth grader about it and whine about everything that comes from Redmond.

Windows Home Server will probably be a mild success, but 2.0 and 3.0 will probably see even wider deployment and success. Companies know that early is good. Sony knows Blu-ray will lose money, just as Hitachi and whomever else know HD-DVD will lose money. Because geting out there and establishing your technology will mean big things in the future, when the world is ready for these things. In the case of high def DVDs, sadly for the above, there may be another format change before the world cares. Because what exists today is “good enough.”

But not so with home server needs. What exists today is “pain in the ass” at best. And it’s rarely done at all. This is a completely untapped market. Bravo to Gates for seeing the need and pouncing early. And Mr. Jobs: boo to you. You already play nice with NTFS. How cool would it have been to release an Apple appliance that can backup everything on your Mac, not to mention your Windows PCs – profiles, documents, etc – and all iTunes music, cross platform? Too bad you didn’t jump on that one.

8 Replies to “Thoughts on Windows Home Server”

  1. Very well said Adam, this is exactly why i left the scene. It’s just tiring see all these stupid people being anti-everything. It’s just depressing.

  2. Thanks. I wish it weren’t the case, though. So much of this stuff is so exciting, it just stinks to have so many people always complaining and being negative and fighting so much that I think it honestly holds back innovation across the entire industry.

  3. I often feel that way too. (regular OSNews reader for about 4 years now)

    Hey, maybe you should just quietly migrate your stuff to your blog/s and just not tell the “masses”, leaving them behind…

    /wishful thinking

  4. I agree with the above, it’s very tiring to see so much negative feedback, there are some really interesting products/software/hardware being released by many different vendors. There was a lot of postive thought in the 90’s

  5. Hi Adam, nice blog.

    I felt that your comment on people whining concerned me somewhat…I did want to say that I – I can’t speak for others – don’t think WHS is a *bad* idea in itself. Heck, it clearly fills a need, since I myself have built on central file sharing repository, and am thinking of adding a backup system with rsync (as soon as I buy an extra HD 😉

    However, while I do think this will fit a need, I am wary of MS encroaching itself further in the home market. I think it has enough of a stranglehold on the home market to be excited by such a prospect. You may say that these are purely political motives, and that these considerations are irrelevant to you, however I personally view these things in a pragmatic way: no competition means less innovation, and increased prices in the long run. It’s not a matter of a company being good or bad, but simply that monopolies (and near-monopolies) are *dangerous* for an industry. I think this explains why so many posters are (justifiably or not) so hostile to Microsoft, and that’s not something you can just casually brush off.

    That said, and this was my main argument in the messages (which may have been misconstrued as “whining”, though it really wasn’t), I do not believe that MS can corner this market, simply because its competitive advantages here are slim. It’s not so much that MS has had difficulties with hardware products before (the xbox and the MS mice being exceptions), but rather that *if* such a product takes off, it will be relatively easy for competitors to offer similar products, at a lower cost. I also noted that the MS and Windows brands, while easily recognized, cannot be expected to generate positive buzz about the product (again, if you look at the Xbox/Xbox360 marketing, Microsoft’s name is never prominently displayed).

    So all in all I think this is a good move by MS…but I hope that other companies follow suit and offer better/cheaper products, because I *definitely* don’t want another MS product in every home. 😉

    Peace out,


  6. I’m quite sure that if this device picks up speed, you can count the seconds on your fingers before there’s an equivalent from NetGear, Linksys, and 5 other companies. And if it fills a concrete role, maybe next year’s Macworld keynote will introduce “Apple Media Server” or something.

    I agree with your general wariness of Microsoft, but I don’t let that overshadow when they actually fill a void. Since there’s nothing on the market that does this in any fashion that is generally usable, I have to stand behind this until given a reason not to.

    The “whining” was more the fact that very few comments addressed the value of the device, but many (not just yours) expressed a general distrust and dislike of Microsoft. We get it. We agree. But no hard feelings. I think I speak for all OSNews’ers when I say that we value all participation, especially yours and the other most frequent posters.

    Thanks for checking out the blog.

  7. I think we agree on the basic point, i.e. that it’s a cool device, and if it takes off we’ll have more choice than simply WHS. In a sense, I *hope* it takes off, because that’s often what it takes to create a new market. MS has enough money in the bank to take these kinds of calculated gambles, so it’s no surprise that they’re the first ones to provide such an integrated solution.

    As a side note, I’d like to say that my relationship to MS is somehwat more complicated than some of my posts might suggest, as I’ve actually been supportive of their entry in the video game market. Some of the console games I’ve designed have had Xbox releases, and they’ve always looked better/played better than the PS2/GameCube versions. I am wary of them, but I also don’t want them to just disappear. I feel the same way about MS that I do about the U.S. in general: I’d just like them to be smaller and less powerful, but I do value their contribution.

    BTW, I think it’s great that you put up links to the blogs on the maintenance page (i.e. when the main site is down). Not that I don’t like dolphins, but… 🙂

    All right, I should get back to work. Those games don’t make themselves (yet!)


  8. I think you’re being a bit judgemental on the comments on the other forum. There are several that say they like the idea. Some just say they could do it cheaper in other ways. What’s the big deal?

    If someone tried to sell me a new car I would evaluate that on its merits too.

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