On Sunday evening, Microsoft announced the general availability of Windows Home Server, an integrated solution for protecting and sharing PCs, documents, and digital media content. Not coincidentally, the most eagerly awaited Windows Home Server product, HP's MediaSmart Server, is also now available for preorder from a variety of online and brick-and-mortar retailers.
"Digital devices and content are everywhere in our day-to-day lives and they are more important all the time," says Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. "With the launch of Windows Home Server, Microsoft and its partners are creating a new consumer product category that will help people keep their digital media safe and make it easier for them to enjoy it with friends and family."
Windows Home Server is an easy-to-use server solution for the home that will typically be purchased with dedicated hardware such as HP's innovative MediaSmart Server. (A software-only OEM version of Windows Home Server is also available for enthusiasts and system builders for about $200.) Windows Home Server provides automatic backup of all Windows Vista and Windows XP-based PCs on the home network, remote access to the server and connected PCs using a custom Web address, digital media content and file sharing, and network-wide health monitoring, all from a centralized location.
The MediaSmart Server is a surprisingly compact device that can house as many as four Serial ATA (SATA) hard drives. A MediaSmart Server version with one 500GB hard disk drive is available for $599, and a version with two 1TB hard disk drives is available for $749. The MediaSmart Server builds off the core Windows Home Server product by adding a dramatically simpler setup process, a Web-based photo-sharing system, and integration with Apple's iTunes. Other PC and device makers, such as Fujitsu, Iomega, Life|ware, and Medion, will ship Windows Home Server-based machines in late 2007 and 2008.
My review of Windows Home Server is now available on the SuperSite for Windows, and I will be posting a review of the MediaSmart Server this week.