Microsoft thinks it's time to tidy up the house.
In a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show, Bill Gates officially launched Windows Home Server, a domestic digital hub that promises to bring to order all the files and devices scattered around the home.
Hewlett-Packard has already announced that before the year is done, it will start selling the HP MediaSmart Server based on Redmond's design. The plan is for people to stash the personal server in a closet and to access files on PCs, Zunes or Xboxes via a software console on another computer. Eventually, they may even be able to get to these remotely via the Internet.
It all marks an attempt to chip out a new product niche. We asked our Vista Views panel, made up of ordinary readers, these questions: Does the average person need a server at home? Would you buy a Windows Home Server?
I won't buy Windows Home Server as there's already a "real" server running at my home.
But with the advent of MP3s, there is certainly a need for centralized storage of media files in every home. And I expect a tight integration with Media Center and the Xbox 360 game console. This could mean that Windows Home Server would be a valuable addition to some households.
But I just can't imagine that a nongeek would buy Windows Home Server.
Simon Felix works in theoretical computer science, application programming and low-level hardware coding for a small engineering office in Switzerland, where he is writing his diploma thesis. He has developed his own operating system.
Wow...a home server. I don't see myself running out to get one of these even if I didn't have a server already. The average user is just going to be frustrated by putting one of these up and having to set it up and having to deal with two different operating systems, since this thing will be Windows Server 2003-based (which can be a bit confusing, if you're already used to Vista).
And not very many people are going to want to have to either turn on this one computer (or device or whatever you want to call it) just so they can access their stuff in it, or to keep it on full time and consume electricity.
This will probably change in the future, and maybe everyone will have a server built into their houses by then, but for right now, it just won't seem like a necessity to any average user.
David Colon is a software developer in the QA department of a medium-size government Web site application development company.
The average person does not need a server at home. Most average consumers that I work with, friends and family, have enough trouble setting up a home network of two computers for the simple purpose of filesharing. If the user has enough local storage or even a NAS (network attached storage) device, I believe that the need for a server is nonexistent.
Would I buy a Windows Home server is a complex question for me.
Consider the following: I already have a computer running Windows 2003 Enterprise server server. Do I need another server? No. If I didn't have the machine that I am currently running, I would definitely consider buying something. But that's my network engineer degree in me talking. If I were the average home user, I would expand my local storage options, or use a simple NAS device for file sharing. As for the other services that one could benefit from a server, I don't think that the average home user needs them.
Joe Rud is a computer industry professional from St. Louis Park, Minn.
I think there is a huge market for (Windows Home Server). Many families have more than one computer, and an automated, remotely-accessible daily backup and media streaming solution will help take away one of biggest worries of most families: How do we make sure our memories are always safe?
I've had a chance to see it in person here at CES, and it's a great first step that does what it advertises. I'm excited to see what it looks like in the Longhorn Server timeframe.
Robert McLaws is an IT consultant, community leader and Vista enthusiast. He runs Windows enthusiast site Windows-now.com.
I am a computer geek, so I would definitely use this home server. I find that my digital media is growing beyond the storage capacity of my 100GB laptop drive.
As for nongeeks, ehh. I don't see it happening soon.
Brian Clarke, a student at Shippensburg University, says he has reinstalled Windows more times than he cares to remember.
The average person does not need a server at home. I would not buy a Windows home server. Currently, I use an external hard drive attached to my desktop computer, which I share on my network. This is a very affordable way to share files, and it works great when sharing files to my laptop and Xbox 360. Most people who want to share files among computers on a network can do so by sharing an external hard drive, or even folders on a local drive. Having a separate home server is a bit excessive at this point.
Brian Lambert is a law student at Southern Illinois University.
After seeing what it will be able to do here at CES I would certainly get one if the price point is right.
Josh Phillips is an IT professional based in California.
"Does the average person need a server at home?" Is that an average, somewhat tech-savvy person? Or an average person who checks Hotmail and connects his camera to the PC to download images every now and then?
Regardless, with our increasingly busy and digitized lifestyles, we need some sort of consolidation for all that media...But the key component missing like a big question mark is consolidation for all that media. And that is what MS is trying to answer. Just like the Windows XP Media Center edition, the market share is limited, of course. (In comparison with all the other OS's). Regardless, there is money to be made.
Would you buy a Windows Home Server? At this point, no--I have an Ubuntu server that serves all my needs.
Adeel Khan is a systems administrator based out of Mississauga in Ontario, Canada.
I think that Bill Gates is onto a good thing here. Just so long as Microsoft don't advertise it as a "server." When I start to think about the integration with various home systems--security, lighting, even the humble shopping list--I can see how a central repository can start to make sense, especially considering IPTV. Why restrict content to media though? You could keep an up-to-date list of which food items need restocking and pass this info to your local supermarket delivery service. I do hope Bill Gates' vision doesn't suffer the same fate as the "browser in the fridge door" idea.
Pete Clouston, previously a programmer and product marketing engineer for a U.K. telecoms company, now works as an IT analyst and project manager for a regional government agency in New Zealand.
I believe that the home server is something that would be advantageous, as people add more computers to their households. Already we have seen a huge jump in home-networking products such as wireless access, and in the multidevice home, having a central server to store and manage files for the entire household is something that would certainly enhance the digital experience.
Personally, I have run a Windows server as part of my home network for quite some time, and have found many advantages in having a central repository that is easily accessed from both within the household and via the Internet.
Jeff Rosado is the owner of a computer consulting company providing tech support and training to businesses and individuals in Pensacola, Fla.
I guess Microsoft is repeating the same mistake that IBM made when it developed OS/2 in conjunction with the former.
What OS/2 did was create the blueprint for a whole different approach, called Windows NT (microkernel based, full GUI like the Mac). Now the tables are inverted, and Microsoft partners with HP, giving the latter the tools and expertise that HP need to create a headless Linux Home Server, which of course fits magically with HP's plans.
Time will tell if I'm wrong, but I can't wait to get my hands on a MediaSmart Server and load it with Ubuntu, for the most perfect server on earth, thanks to good ol' Microsoft.
Carlos Osuna is a former industrial engineer who jumped over to Web technology more than 10 years ago. He works on Web Services in .Net and Internet banking systems in Java, among other areas.
I think it has huge potential, and Microsoft are really tapping a market that at the moment has no similar products?The idea of having a device containing all pictures, documents, videos and remote access is a very exciting opportunity, and one that will be used by many, I think.
Barty Lambert is a high-school student who lives in London.
I imagine the people who say we will never need home servers are the descendants of the same people who said our homes will never need broadband, or a computer, or an electric washing machine, or electricity, period--perhaps even descendants of the cavemen who said the whole "fire" thing was just a fad.
However, I don't know why anyone would want to extend Microsoft's death grip from my desktop to their entire home. Get back to me after I see what gets unveiled at Macworld.
John Kneeland is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is majoring in international relations and East Asian studies.
The Vista Views panel is being brought together by CNET News.com to discover what people on the street think about Microsoft's new operating system.
We're looking for a range of perspectives--from beta testers to business buyers to home PC owners.
Interested in joining the panel pool? Here's how it works:
Whenever key Vista news breaks, we'll e-mail a question to contributors. Sometimes, we'll ask a yes/no question and use the answers for a simple poll. Other times, we'll look for more in-depth feedback on Vista events. It doesn't matter whether you send us two pages or two sentences--we value your comments. And if you don't have an opinion on a particular story, or you don't have time to respond, that's fine too.
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