Windows Home Server Beta/CTP Preview

Back in January, I posted a preview of Microsoft’s Windows Home Server, a product that should send shivers of delight down the spine of any home computing enthusiast. Windows Home Server, or WHS, is the product we’ve been waiting for quite a long time, and then some: In addition to the expected digital media sharing features, WHS also offers a pervasive platform for full-home PC backups, hot-add expandable storage, and remote access. And best of all, it will be made available both as a standalone software package (which you can install on any PC or server) and as a bundle with specially-made home server hardware.

WHS is expected in late 2006, but since my initial preview, Microsoft has made a number of improvements to this product. First, the company released Beta 2 (see my screenshot galleries), the first beta version of WHS to ship to users outside of Microsoft. WHS Beta 2 offered a decent look at the features I’d described back in my preview, so I didn’t provide an overview of that version. But since then, most recently, Microsoft has shipped another beta release. Dubbed the April 2007 CTP (Community Technology Preview), this WHS release offers dramatic improvements and a near-feature-complete look at this evolving product. The April CTP also comes on the heels of news that Microsoft has shipped a software development kit (SDK) that will allow enterprising third party developers to ship WHS software add-ons that will extend this product in exciting ways. Taken together, we now have a much better idea of how WHS is shaping up.

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