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Mailbag: March 2, 2011

In this week's mailbag: Windows Home Server 2011 and AD domains, Windows Home Server data migration, Windows Phone 7 and WM-DRM content, a coming WHS 2011 and Windows SBS 2011 Essentials comparison, Netflix and subtitles, and a few comments about the direction of the new SuperSite.

Have a question? I can't guarantee an answer, but I'll try. Drop me a note! (And let me know if you'd prefer not to have your name published.)

Windows Home Server 2011 and Active Directory Domains

While this is admittedly not a typical usage scenario, Jeff A. asks:

Recently I used my TechNet subscription to download a copy of Window Server 2008 R2.  I have a total of 5 copies of Windows on Physical and virtual and have been adding them to the domain I setup mostly so I don't have to change my password in 5 places.

After hearing about the central backup and other features in Windows Home Server 2011, I wonder how easy is it to move my Windows desktops from the existing server 2008 domain to a home server domain? And how can I take a non-domain box and add it to the domain and keep all my settings, etc.?

WHS 2011 doesn't support domains, so it would just work as a standalone server in that kind of environment. Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, which is built on the same code base as WHS 2011, does support domains. But it has to be the first domain controller in a new domain, so you can't add that to an existing setup.

That said, the WHS 2011 Connector does install on a domain connected PC, so you could use WHS 2011 in your current configuration. But you'd need to manually re-create each domain account on the WHS box (as normal workgroup users) for seamless network access to shares, etc.

This advice wouldn't necessarily work with domain-based PC you got from work, of course. In such cases, PCs are typically locked down in a such a way that it would prevent you from installing the Connector software and backing up the system to your home network.

Windows Home Server Data Migration

Kenneth S. asks:

I have a homebrew Windows Home Server box and was thinking of upgrading to WHS 2011 when it ships. I don't plan on buying another box.  How can I transfer the data saved on my old system to the new one? Will there be a utility program to do this? Since some of my WHS backups are of PCs I no longer have in service and I want to save this data I've been copying this data to some 2 TB drives and deleting the backups from the server.  Will I need to do this for the entire server when I upgrade?

I wasn't going to personally try to auto-migrate anything over during my own move to WHS 2011, but I had forgotten about this need for PC backups in particular (which I'm not currently using).

So I asked Microsoft about this, figuring it would most likely be a manual process. Here's the response I got back:

Unfortunately, there is no way to migrate anything but data (manually) to the new platform. The backup technology in WHS is based on Windows Server 2003, but WHS 2011 has a completely different backup technology mechanism.

I'm going to document my experiences moving the contents of my current WHS box to a new install, which like Kenneth's, will be the same physical hardware. This means I'll need 3+ TB of external (or network-based) storage to hold the data while I do the install. I will almost certainly go with external drives for this purpose. Stay tuned.

Windows Phone 7 and Windows Media DRM Content

Ivan T. asks:

Does Windows Phone 7 support Windows Media DRM? More specifically I need OverDrive and bookmarking support.

Windows Phone has the exact same support for media formats as does Zune, which is to say backwards compatibility with WM-DRM, but not with Plays For Sure. That said, it is not currently compatible with OverDrive (which is an audio book format).

Comparing Windows Home Server 2011 and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

David B. asks:

I noticed you've committed to personally using WHS 2011, but I was wondering if you were planning to devote any significant coverage to SBS 2011 Essentials. I know these operating systems are almost identical, but I'm very interested in the Active Directory functionality offered by SBS 2011 Essentials. I'm currently using WHS 1.0 with four computers, and I'm not fond of managing each computer individually.

Thanks, yeah I'll probably do something around this. But while they are based on the same core, and have similar management experiences, the AD integration in SBS 2011 Essentials makes that product quite a bit different from WHS 2011. The biggest difference for a home user is the loss of media sharing, though I suspect third party add-ons will bring that to SBS as well.

Since I'm planning to do this write-up in the next few months, please let me know if you have any specific questions or things you'd like compared between these two products.

Netflix and Subtitles

I wanted to take a moment and thank the very many readers who saw the following news and thought to pass it along to me.

30% of Netflix Streaming Content Has Subtitles; 80% By End of 2011

In the US, more than 3,500 TV episodes and movies have subtitles available, representing about 30% of viewing. (This is in addition to the subtitles already available "burned in" to the picture for all non-English content.) More subtitles are being added every week, and we expect to get to 80% viewing coverage by the end of 2011 (with similar goals for Canada).

We've added this page on the Netflix Website that lists all of the TV shows and movies that are available with subtitles. It is accessible via a link in the Netflix Website footer, via search (for "subtitle" or "caption"), or linked from the detail page of any title that has subtitles.

As many of you know, I have a deaf son (with cochlear implants), so subtitle/captioning support on video content is very important to me and my family. Currently, support for this technology is low. Apple offers subtitle technology in its video products (QuickTime, iTunes) but the iTunes Store has very little content that is subtitled. YouTube does captioning, but it too is underutilized so far, and the auto-captioning stuff, while well intended, is useless according to my son. Hulu also has some captioning.

Netflix's support here is appreciated: I use and recommend Netflix for a variety of reasons, and this will become one of the big reasons going forward. Note, however, that Netflix captioning/subtitle support is currently limited to PCs, Macs, Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, GoogleTV, and the Boxee Box. So you cannot get them on the Roku boxes, Apple TV, or Xbox 360 (all of which we happen to use for Netflix). However, Netflix says it expects to see this support on Roku and Xbox 360 later this year.

Anyway, bravo to Netflix for doing this very important work.

A Few Site Comments

I get email about the SuperSite for Windows redesign, structure, search features, and so on. Here's a quick update, since I'm behind.

Commenting. Some have asked why there is no way to comment on SuperSite articles. This is a content management system (CMS) issue, and we will be adding this functionality when the CMS is updated. Comments management will work as it does currently on the SuperSite Blog and Windows Phone Secrets blog: That is, it will be fully and manually moderated to prevent silliness.

Search. Bing is discontinuing the search box we use, but we will be moving soon to a new Bing API-based search functionality that should provide a better experience as well.

Missing or incorrect articles. This is where I'm furthest behind, and I apologize for that. I will begin this week, with the Mailbag section, to ensure that all of the articles on the old SuperSite have made it across, and correctly, to the new site. This will include tagging articles so that they appear in the correct section(s) on the site.

UI/design. Like many of you, I find the new site design to be cluttered (particularly with regards to ads) and I think the fonts are too small. I'll start the work necessary to clean that up, though this isn't something I can do directly. I will be redesigning the site header to be more attractive as well.

If you have any additional comments or suggestions for the site, please let me know.

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