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Windows Home Server Gets Powered Up With PP2

Microsoft's Windows Home Server got a boost with the release of Power Pack 2 (PP2), which became available to Microsoft Developer Network subscribers.

Microsoft's Windows Home Server (WHS) got a boost this week with the release of Power Pack 2 (PP2), which became available to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers on Monday.

PP2 fixes "known issues" in the server, according to Microsoft, and adds enhancements for small office/home office users. It includes more than 100 add-ons addressing antivirus protection, system performance, server security and more, according to the updated product Web site.

WHS was released in July 2007 and marketed as "the world's first stay-at-home server." The offering, however, has not been without bugs and criticism. Several early problems were related to data corruption, mostly associated with saving Microsoft applications. PP1, released in July of 2008, addressed most of those bugs, but some functionality, configuration and media-sharing issues remained unaddressed until this week with the release of PP2.

According to the WHS Team Blog, PP2 adds remote access configuration and content streaming support for machines running Windows Media Center and Windows Media Center Extenders.

The integration with Windows Media Center represents a change in plans for Microsoft. Previously, Microsoft had contended that WHS was for "everyday files," while storage of large files (video and multimedia) should be on Windows Media Center, according to an article in BetaNews. Prior to PP2, Media Center could not stream content to the WHS.

WHS has been a work in progress. However, it's also a product in search of a niche, according to Matt Rosoff, research vice president at Directions on Microsoft.

"The problem with WHS is that it was marketed to home users with multiple networked computers," Rosoff explained in an e-mail. "[It was designed for] users with lots of data to be backed up and who are technically savvy enough to add and maintain a server on their home network. I'm not even sure such a market exists."

Users have cost-effective, and even free, storage alternatives, such as USB drives and online services such as Microsoft's own SkyDrive, Rosoff indicated.

"There are plenty of quicker, simpler and cheaper solutions for casual backup, and I don't think most consumers understand why they should pay $500 and more for full backup and restoration," Rosoff said.

"In my opinion, WHS is what we at Directions sometimes call a 'Redmond Lifestyle' product -- a product that makes sense to Microsoft employees, but that most consumers would regard with a shrug at best."

The new Power Pack is available for download by MSDN subscribers here.

PP2 also will be automatically available to WHS users through Windows Update, provided that PP1 is installed. Users of the English version can get it automatically on March 24. Other language versions will be available through Automatic Update at the end of April.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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