Windows Home Server code name “Vail”– Update

Windows Home Server code name “Vail”– Update

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When we first started designing Windows Home Sever code name “Vail” one of our initial focuses was to continue to provide effortless support for multiple internal and external hard drives. Drive Extender provided the ability to take the small hard drives many small businesses and households may have acquired, and pool them together in a simple volume. During our current testing period for our Windows Home Server code name “Vail” product, we have received feedback from partners and customers about how they use storage today and how they plan to use it moving forward. Today large hard drives of over 1TB are reasonably priced, and freely available. We are also seeing further expansion of hard drive sizes at a fast rate, where 2Tb drives and more are becoming easy accessible.  Since customers looking to buy Windows Home Server solutons from OEM's will now have the ability to include larger drives, this will reduce the need for Drive Extender functionality.

When weighing up the future direction of storage in the consumer and SMB market, the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs. Therefore, moving forward we have decided to remove the Drive Extender technology from Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” (and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials) which are currently in beta.

While this removes the integrated ability for storage pooling of multiple hard drives and automated data duplication, we are continuing to work closely with our OEM partners to implement storage management and protection solutions, as well as other software solutions. This will provide customers greater choice as well as a seamless experience that will meet their storage needs. Customers will also have access to the in-built storage solutions Windows Server 2008 R2 provides for data protection. We are also still delivering core features such as automated Server and PC backup, easy sharing of folders and files, Remote Web Access and simplified management without any expected changes.

Target product availability is still H1 2011, and we expect to deliver a new beta without drive extender for Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” early in the New Year.

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  • FAA
    0 Posts

    OK, I just now saw that HP is quitting the Home Server market. It all makes sense now. Good Bye WHS, it was a fun ride and could have been an awesome product. I want to with the WHS team nothing but the best of luck in the search for other employment. You made a really cool WHSv1 product you can be proud of.

  • FAA
    0 Posts

    I'll chime in as well. I am amazed at this decision. It would be analogous to hearing someone from the Windows team saying, "The point and click thing just isn't working out for our customers, so we're going back to the DOS prompt. Do you really have a death-wish for this product? Because you pretty much just issued the sentence. I run WHS with 4 - 2TB drives and am adding more space as we speak. I really don't think I'm that far out of the norm either. NO one will be happy with a single drive solution, or paying the "OEMs" tons of money for their solutions either. If I were on the WHS, I'd start looking for my next gig right away, because as far as I'm concerned, I won't be upgrading. Time to look at alternatives I guess...

  • bRonCOde
    24 Posts

    Mods.  Sorry for the double post.

  • bRonCOde
    24 Posts

    There are two real options here.  Money/time is running tight on a niche product line, or, Microsoft has made the decision to lose their collective mind.  Or, the new solution is going to be SO GOOD that Extender won’t even be missed.  Or perhaps, there is so little room to improve WHS that you are grasping at ways to tell the media you’ve made “big changes” and not be lying.  Realistically, let’s assume option three is not viable and option four would be so underhanded that now company could go that route in good conscience.  

    Or everyone there is just pissed that the HP gear that uses WHS integrates iTunes.

    I know, I know.  You’re technical personnel.  You get your information from big business types.  But really, put yourself into the shoes of some Luddite at a cocktail party describing his current WHS setup.  Life is easy.  You stop the other person in the conversation in the middle of spouting stock symbols so fast you’re surprised ticker tape isn’t spewing from his mouth.  You then steer the conversation to your iPhone (which you casually withdraw from your jacket pocket), and how you’ve downloaded so many episodes of Desperate Housewives that your server was almost full up.

    Your e-trade happy friend fondles his Blackberry for a second while you continue talking.  Yes, yes, Housewives are a guilty pleasure, but you watch with the sound muted—most of the time.  Where were you?  Oh, right.  Out of space on the server.  You go on to explain how it was just a matter of buying any old generic USB drive and simply plugging it in to your media server.  And, (ta-da!) more space.  No need to configure, it’s just more space with less hassle.

    Consider the same situation under the Black Vail instead.  Suddenly the discussion steers instead to how you tried for an hour and a half to get JBOD set up correctly.  Problem with JBOD is zero redundancy and the only way your rig would properly add another drive was to add two of them.  You must have flipped a switch somewhere that hybridized the RAID and BOD arrays.  Nothing in the documentation said you would need to add two drives—it just wouldn’t work unless you did it for some reason.  Quirky.  

    Ultimately, Mr. Softy, Extender is Home Server.  That’s from a consumer perspective, of course.  I’m one of the fools that took “Home” server to mean anyone’s home.  Maybe a name change to “Some IT Guy’s Home Server” is in order.  

    If all you are after is storage/streaming space away from your main rig and disk savings by way of redundancy reduction, there’s hardware/software for that already.  And that software will be the wheel you now find yourself reinventing.  Likely an existing solution is already easier to use than your v2.  Which means your competitive advantage will be in the toilet.  Which, basically, is par for the Microsoft Golf course.

    I mean really, does the ability to add disks with minimal pain makes you feel too much like Apple?  I can see why you wouldn’t want to be like those guys.  All that pearlescent plastic!  Don’t they know that black is the new black?  But let’s be realistic; if you buy Vail, you’ll most likely have a Windows Phone in your pocket at that cocktail party, won’t you?.  Something with a Palm logo running CE.  And you like to be tied up in the basement and “disciplined” with a mouse-ear power cord, too, I’d expect.

    I mean, you’d have to be nuts to just sit on 50 billion in cash, right?

  • bRonCOde
    24 Posts

    There are two real options here.  Money/time is running tight on a niche product line, or, Microsoft has made the decision to lose their collective mind.  Or, the new solution is going to be SO GOOD that Extender won’t even be missed.  Or perhaps, there is so little room to improve WHS that you are grasping at ways to tell the media you’ve made “big changes” and not be lying.  Realistically, let’s assume option three is not viable and option four would be so underhanded that now company could go that route in good conscience.  

    Or everyone there is just pissed that the HP gear that uses WHS integrates iTunes.

    I know, I know.  You’re technical personnel.  You get your information from big business types.  But really, put yourself into the shoes of some Luddite at a cocktail party describing his current WHS setup.  Life is easy.  You stop the other person in the conversation in the middle of spouting stock symbols so fast you’re surprised ticker tape isn’t spewing from his mouth.  You then steer the conversation to your iPhone (which you casually withdraw from your jacket pocket), and how you’ve downloaded so many episodes of Desperate Housewives that your server was almost full up.

    Your e-trade happy friend fondles his Blackberry for a second while you continue talking.  Yes, yes, Housewives are a guilty pleasure, but you watch with the sound muted—most of the time.  Where were you?  Oh, right.  Out of space on the server.  You go on to explain how it was just a matter of buying any old generic USB drive and simply plugging it in to your media server.  And, (ta-da!) more space.  No need to configure, it’s just more space with less hassle.

    Consider the same situation under the Black Vail instead.  Suddenly the discussion steers instead to how you tried for an hour and a half to get JBOD set up correctly.  Problem with JBOD is zero redundancy and the only way your rig would properly add another drive was to add two of them.  You must have flipped a switch somewhere that hybridized the RAID and BOD arrays.  Nothing in the documentation said you would need to add two drives—it just wouldn’t work unless you did it for some reason.  Quirky.  

    Ultimately, Mr. Softy, Extender is Home Server.  That’s from a consumer perspective, of course.  I’m one of the fools that took “Home” server to mean anyone’s home.  Maybe a name change to “Some IT Guy’s Home Server” is in order.  

    If all you are after is storage/streaming space away from your main rig and disk savings by way of redundancy reduction, there’s hardware/software for that already.  And that software will be the wheel you now find yourself reinventing.  Likely an existing solution is already easier to use than your v2.  Which means your competitive advantage will be in the toilet.  Which, basically, is par for the Microsoft Golf course.

    I mean really, does the ability to add disks with minimal pain makes you feel too much like Apple?  I can see why you wouldn’t want to be like those guys.  All that pearlescent plastic!  Don’t they know that black is the new black?  But let’s be realistic; if you buy Vail, you’ll most likely have a Windows Phone in your pocket at that cocktail party, won’t you?.  Something with a Palm logo running CE.  And you like to be tied up in the basement and “disciplined” with a mouse-ear power cord, too, I’d expect.

    I mean, you’d have to be nuts to just sit on 50 billion in cash, right?

    ~hARdhEaD

  • ritual
    0 Posts

    WOW.. horible decision.. i wont be updating my WHS to vail now. lost another customer.. GOOD job..

  • gpmarkb
    0 Posts

    I was just ready to start planning the conversion to Vail when DE and HP came up. As far as I'm concerned Vail is a dead end product.  I already had Amahi up and running for evaluation and that's the direction I'm heading now.  I also have a pre-production media center up but that's now a dead end project as far as I'm concerned - it too will go the Linux route and use a networked DVR.  (Looks like Vail is turning out just as popular with the OEMs as media center!)

    I just thank my lucky stars this happened now and not later!

  • I have $1000 worth of hardware sitting in a shopping cart waiting to be purchased for my new WHS. *poof* It's gone. There's no point now as it simply won't do what I intended it to - provide a simple and elegant solution to storing and securing all of my media. It just won't do it anymore now that the DE has been dumped. Now I have to find an expensive RAID solution, or buy a NAS. You have managed to kill your brilliant software in one unfathomably poor decision. I have been telling everyone I know about WHS, as all of my friends have similar needs for digital media storage and serving. Now I'll tell them to forget everything I said. Yeah good job there MS.

  • What does "Since customers looking to buy Windows Home Server solutons from OEM's will now have the ability to include larger drives, this will reduce the need for Drive Extender functionality." have to do with not wanting drive extender? A semi-technical person could set up a home server, but now you throw out DE and they have to deal with raid! There's no way. Like everyone else has said before me, you've just killed a great product. You are such boneheads. You could have at least had some alternatives ready before announcing this.

    P.S. - "The Cloud" commercials currently running are not talking to anyone but us IT people. Everyday people have no clue what the cloud is and sure as hell aren't going to put their files there. You should call it "The Clap" because people are going to stay away from it like a bad STD.

  • Otaku
    2 Posts

    Just found out about this (I was really behind on my RSS feeds).

    Having worked there for many years (I don't anymore), I can make a good guess and say that this has nothing to do with "customer feedback" on not wanting DE. Most likely, it is a horribly delayed product that is developed by a team that went through a recent re-org and the GM was getting heavy pressure to get Vail out the door, no matter what the cost. DE is complex and takes a lot of time to get right, so the choice was to either take the time or remove it and blame it on customers.

    Re-orgs do this to good products - they cripple, hobble or just sometime kill. Some new GM wants to make his/her VP happy (right now versus in 2 years from now) and makes a decison that makes him/her look good for MYR (e.g. "Now that I'm on this, the product will ship in Q3 (MSFT's Q3)" and all the VPs will be happy).

    But we all know what this will lead to - horrible sales of Vail and that GM blaming it on "customers" and taking a new job in about 1.5-2 years, far away from the market devastation he/she has created. The product will die an accelerated death and Microsoft will get out of the home server market, saying that there isn't much of a market there. The focus will turn to SBS. In about 4 years, a competitor will come along, like Google or Apple or even EMC that offers some kind of similar DE experience with some kind of home server, gain a bunch of customers and MSFT will get back into the game, now claiming that "the time is right". They could have kept those customers, revenue-inflow and loyalty all along.

    It's incredibly sad how loyal customers can be, only to be treated horribly by MSFT. It's like an alcoholic father who you want to love, but he just keeps beating you and telling you you're worthless. Poor Michael Leworthy - I don't envy you for having to be the messenger here.

    This is too bad, I was really looking forward to Vail, but now I'll take my business elsewhere as Vail without DE is just not compelling enough for me to consider WHS anymore.

    Also, isn't it odd that we have to sign up for a different account to post on this site? Where is Live ID sign-in? More Live IDs has been on the subsidiary scorecard for several years - all these commenters signing up for Live IDs would have helped increase that metric :)

  • schlues
    0 Posts

    I hope you're getting a clear picture of how ridiculous this decision is for the actual users.  I, like many others have joined the blog for the sole purpose of trying to communicate to you how negative this decision is.  Every time I talked about WHS to others (pushing how great WHS is and how they should use it) the #1 selling point was DE.  I will not be recommending this product any more to friends and family..

  • ebcain
    0 Posts

    I am on-board with what looks like a huge part of the WHS community here.  The removal of DE from Vail is a mistake and forces me to not buy it.  After hearing this I now realize why HP is dropping their windows home server offerings.  Who would buy it without the most crucial part of it?

  • When I was looking for storage I decided on WHS running on an HP490. DE and Folder Duplication were the killer apps for me. Without it I would have bought a NAS. So I don't think it's a good decision to remove these features.

  • I can't see how removing the best feature of a product will improve it...just because it won't work well in SBS doesn't mean it should be pulled from WHS!

  • Echo
    0 Posts

    If you're not putting in DE, just kill it now.

  • bspilde
    0 Posts

    I can see dropping Disk Extender from SBS (to an extent) but to drop it from WHS? Really? If you couldn't rewrite it well then maintain the old at least!!!

    Vail-DiskExtender = VAIN

    Is MS going to sell me some cheap RAID cards now that I got rid of the ones I "didn't" need/"couldn't" use with WHS?

  • itimjim
    0 Posts

    Guys, bad move. DE helps me sleep at night without having to worry have I locked the back door, put out the cat and the trash. I'm not going back to worrying, so I shall be going elsewhere.

    When you did your feedback analysis, you must have forgotten to take the autofilters off on the Excel spreadsheet in the 'Suspected Moron' column. I suggest you revisit the spreadsheet.

  • Are you kidding?  Drive extender is the main reason I've been using WHS!  The reasons for dropping DE are lies of omission at the very least.  I'm incredibly disappointed in Microsoft and its treatment of the loyal enthusiasts of WHS.  You could at least have the decency to admit that the problems with drive extender were the main reason for discontinuing it rather than the coverup of users not needing that much space.  Most people that I know who use WHS server have more than 1 TB of data.    How about some other options?  Can't you bring back the drive extender code and make it available as an option to enthusiasts who need more storage space?

  • Andy
    0 Posts

    Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb.  In case you haven't noticed file sizes have increased just as much as hard drive size.  People are containing their entire digital media collection on your devices and if you had actually talked to customers thats what you would have found out.  Maybe you save all your pictures in low res jpeg, store your movies at 96x96, and listen to your audio at 32 kbps but the rest of us use raw pictures, HD/Bluray quality movies, and listen in flac or other lossless formats that takes up multiple terabytes of space.

  • JohnS
    0 Posts

    It has been a week and nothing more so thanks for the heads up, I now have wiped my "Vail" drive and replaced it Linux.  I like so many others won't be back. You have no idea what this is going to cost MS in other product sales. You really dropped the ball on this one.  I have been loyal for 30 years and you just did the unspeakable.

  • Quite simply, I wonder some times who Microsoft listens to?  This is quite possibly the worst Microsoft decision since Microsoft Bob.

  • Are you serious?  You guys in Redmond are completely clueless about the outside world, both IT and consumer products.  This is the number one feature that everyone loves, what's the point of even using a WHS then?  Which committee of idiot managers looking to climb out of this product group made this decision?

  • Ronski
    0 Posts

    I had been holding out for Vail, I wrongly thought that it would include Media Center, that I would be able to install tuners and use it as a tuner farm for central recording, this to me seemed a natural progression for WHS to take, after all most of it's all ready built into Windows for extenders, so it shouldn't have been that difficult to implement. That's been dropped, and now DE been dropped, MS have really dropped the ball on what could have been an excellent product and would have sold well, a lot of families have multiple computers, many with W7 or Vista media center adding a WHS with tuners would have made an excellent and easy to implement TV distribution system, not to mention the all important backup solution!

    Come on MS put the HOME back into WIndows HOME Server!

  • Bizarre decision. You might as well kill the product entirely as DE is what makes it special. A week ago I was a satisfied WHSv1 customer waiting eagerly for WHSv2, and now I'm choosing between staying on WHSv1 and moving to Drobo or Linux.

  • bromyne
    0 Posts

    Hmmm. I've been patiently waiting for WHS v. 2 to be released to create my home server.  The ease of use of WHS v.1 was a huge selling point but i was holding off for v.2 since i imaginged it would only be *adding* features not taking them away.  I guess now i dont have to wait...since i wont be buying v.2 without DE....i can go get v.1 now...or another product altogether.  thanks for making that an easy decision.

  • No DE = No Vail.  I don't see a point.

  • Wow...ridiculous. I guess I'm not upgrading to Vail for my WHS....who makes these decisions? I agree with the folks from WGS, cancel Vail and come back to it when you can offer a product worth using. Very disappointing.

  • Unless MSFT comes up with an automated means of configuring RAID that makes it as easy to use as Drive Extender, I'll just keep my old original WHS box until it quits working.  Drive Extender is what made WHS attractive to me over a *nix based solution.  If we're going to have to configure a RAID array, we might as well build a Linux box with Samba file shares.

  • Mason
    0 Posts

    I hope you all realize that this means you really don't have a reason to show up to work today.

  • Unbelievable ... Did you actually talk to a single HOME user?  The key reason many people bought WHS and you think it's no longer necessary and therefore not including it in the next version?  You are so far out of touch that it is ridiculous.  I currently have 8 tb on my server and as far as I know, there aren't any drives that size.  I will not upgrade to Vail and when support is dropped for the current version, I will find another solution.  I've always wanted a reason to try Linux.

  • You have got to be kidding, this is the main reason I use WHS. I have 3 of them and even returned a Drobo and replaced it with WHS. MS has not only shot themselves in the foot, they have killed one of the best features of WHS. I'm pretty happy with the currect WHS so I guess I'll just keep the stuff I have and stop recommending WHS to peopl

  • IS THIS AN AN EARLY APRIL FOOLS JOKE? WHS without Drive Extender is like Windows without a GUI.

    You're not serious are you?

  • Would love to see Drive Extender in final version of Vail. Very disappointed that it is being removed. I was holding out for Vail final release to build my next home server on.

  • Nice. This blog censors comments that don't agree with the team's decision. I added a strongly worded comment that didn't contain swearing, insults or threats. Not here after several days. Thanks mods.

  • Atom
    0 Posts

    Removing DE and saying "This will provide customers greater choice..." is a contradiction. I'm sure removing DE was made with Microsoft's best interest in mind (hey, it's just business), but please don't try to spin this as a positive for "the customer". It's not.

  • No more WHS for me, I'll be moving to a linux based solution.

  • The DE capability within WHS is nearly unparalleled in terms of it's practicality and ease of use. By removing this feature you've effectively KILLED WHS for a great number of users. Good Job. Enjoy that Vail will be the last version of WHS.

  • Bless you Microsoft, did you let one of the interns run product development on this one.   Please !

  • This is actually a joke right?  Funny funny people working at Microsoft building market presence with a few choice stories to get the community wound up?

    If not then please consider this question..... why would anyone pay you money to upgrade to a product which requires a complete system reinstall, and then now also delivers less convenience and features.  Not even APPLE are that blind!

    As for the nonsensical marketing guff about how "This will provide customers greater choice as well as a seamless experience that will meet their storage needs"      Um, this product is for HOME users... Hello.... anyone there microsoft.  Home users expect to consumer products that you just add on to, put more in, click a button, upgrade etc.   Not rip to pieces, backup data, delete and rebuild RAID arrays and then copy all the data back.  How on this sweet earth can anyone even vaguely aware of home users and technology be under even one moment of delusion that RAID is the way forward for home users.  It is now and always was designed for corporate server hardware setups where you have your own dedicated IT support staff.  I say again..... HOME users!?!?  Have you lost all comprihension of your target audience.  

    Time for me to go and see if I can find a date for support endding on WHSv1... I have until then to find an alternative as WHSv2 might well not exist.  

    Thanks for WHS v1, but no thanks on this pile of useless tosh.

  • For me this equates to a nail in the coffin for WHS.  Without this KEY functionality I will no longer be using WHS or recommending it to my clients.  I have been a longstanding supporter of WHS (ever since it came out!) but I now find that this will not be the case anymore.

    RAID as a general rule is not for MOST home users, and since that is the only mainstream option now then this leaves a lot of people out in the COLD.

    The people making decisions are really not connected with the uers.  WHS was never supposed to be a solution to run applications.  Why?????

    Removal of the single most IMPORTANT functionality is NOT SMART!!!!

  • pcdoc
    0 Posts

    Having been an enthusiast and advacte of WHS V1 since beta, the reasons being given do not make sense at all.  There is no doubt in mind that DE is one of  the key features of WHS and to remove it is absolutely silly.  I use RAID all the time and I have it running on 2008R2 and I will tell you that dumping RAID on to the public is a bad idea.  DE is one of only two reasons the average consumer will buy WHS and you have killed it.  MS is not thinking of the consumer, it is thinking of small/medium businesses.  This move will effectively kill WHS for the consumer unless they stick with V1.  This is the worst idea I have heard in long time and I sincerely hope that MS reconsiders this and comes to its senses and remembers the little guy.

  • jm1024
    0 Posts

    "Target product availability is still H1 2011"

    Please don't bother. You obviously don't care about home users or you wouldn't be removing Vail's most useful feature. Just kill the SKU and let everyone move on to something else.

  • This moves the product toward more complexity, when users (especially home users who use Windows HOME Server) are looking for more simplicity. Yes, 1-2TB drives are cheap, but they can easily be filled quickly, especially with large digital SLR camera photos and videos. I've been happily using the current WHS for the past couple years, and this is one of the greatest features, to only map 1 drive instead of multiple ones...I save a lot of HD video onto my server, and even with 2.5TB of capacity, I'm running out of space, and I'd hate to have to save my files onto multiple drives.

    I usually never leave comments on these types of forums, but for me, this decision strikes me as so bad that I have to speak out against it. I notice this is the first time for many others as well. This tells me others may have been similarly motivated.

  • Flak
    0 Posts

    Removing this feature means MS just lost out on me upgrading any of my three file servers to VAIL.  Thanks for helping me save my money by forcing me to stick with my current WHS.

  • This post could just as easily have read:

    "When we first started designing Windows Home Server code name "Vail", we actually wanted to release and sell it, however, out customers told us that they don't really wan't this product anymore, so we have cancelled the project entirely."

    Sad but true.  I, like many current posters,

    1) was an early adopter of WHS,

    2) have unabashedly recommended WHS to countless friends, relatives, and business associates,

    3) signed up for an account just to express my tremendous dissatisfaction with this decision,

    AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY,

    4) will never be a WHS customer again and will never recommend this product again despite owning 2 WHS systems myself and helping 3 other people get there systems up and running.

    So, as I mentioned, the post should probably be titled "Microsoft ends Windows Home Server product line"

    Let me close with this simple question;  "Do any of the people who made this decision actually USE WHS themselves?"  

    Gabriel

  • Alchemy
    0 Posts

    Drive Extender is the only reason to have Windows Home Server. This will be a nail in the coffin for WHS and shows the complete lack of understanding by Microsoft.

  • I really don't understand this decision. Sad, sad! I wonder how many times this upcoming beta without drive extender will be downloaded. So all the marketing tricks about Windows Home Server being such a great product for the average computing household really were lies? Oh man, I am so disappointed in this decision.

  • No, no, no, no, and most emphatically, no. This was THE most appealing feature of Home Server. Without it, there's no point for it to even exist. Save yourself some money, cancel the project now, because nobody that currently uses it is going to buy it without this. Either that or do the smart thing and leave it in. Guess I need to start researching how to use linux to take care of my home storage needs. Goodbye Home Server.

  • tedtheo
    0 Posts

    This seems like a thinly VAILed attempt to short circuit businesses from using WHS in place of SMS.  I've seen a fair amount of blog entries that suggest that as an alternative and Microsoft is short changing home users to pad their bottom line.  That is unfortunate.

  • glonq
    4 Posts

    "the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs" <-- FAIL

    I'm waiting for Vail to RTM so I can replace my old and busted WHS box with a shiny new one.  Losing Drive Extender is a deal-breaker.  For me, smart, efficient, flexible storage management is a killer feature.

    I hope you're not past the point of no return on this.  This is an epically bad decision.

  • drjonz
    0 Posts

    The code is written and working, so just leave it as an option to users during setup. "Let Windows manage your drives or manage them yourself."

  • This is an unfortunate move.  As a system builder I was looking forward to building a home server that could back up the 8TB of data on my primary PC to a single volume.

    I guess I will look for an open source solution to the mounting data problem.

  • Like some others I joined this forum to comment on this post.

    DE is the single most important feature for me in WHS. If it goes I see no reason to bother with the product at all, as it provides nothing else that I can't get elsewhere.

    You could have dropped almost any other feature and I probably wouldn't have cared, but dropping DE is the one thing you could do to make WHS from a brilliant system to an also ran.

    Drive Extender and to a lesser extent, folder duplication are the features I use most in WHS, and which distinguish it from the pack for me.

    I really hope you reconsider this decision.

  • Bean
    0 Posts

    I have to say a few things:

    - I absolutely love WHS 1 and I have two of them. The three most important features to me are:

    (1) Automated backup of all my computers (for obvious reasons)

    (2) DRIVE EXTENDER. My media library is over 5 TB, and I don't see any drives that size floating around.

    (3) Automatic duplication, so I can get some redundancy for my most important files.

    I don't know how other people use WHS, but in my informal (and admittedly anecdotal) poll of six of my friends who all also use WHS 1, removal of the drive extender functionality makes Vail an instant no-buy. Honestly, I've completely lost interest in the product, and I have a really hard time believing that people don't actually want this feature. The article here is just putting some garbage marketing spin out there. "Oh, 2 TB drives are easy to get, so you don't need this!" That's absolute malarkey. Why on earth would I want to chunk up my media on multiple drives? What if I want to store two copies of my important documents?

    Is this a release window thing? You want to get it out in the market, and DE isn't done, so you're just scrapping it? Why not push the product release out. We're not talking about a small thing here, but a major feature, and product draw.

    Are you also going to cut the price with the neutering of significant core functionality? Not that I would want to buy the product anyway, given that you've taken out the feature I use the most. And now I also have to investigate other options for backup and storage for when my WHS1 boxes stop working, because clearly Vail is going to be a crippled and inferior product.

  • Bean
    0 Posts
  • I created this account for the express purpose of expressing my outrage at this ridiculous decision.

    The worst change you could've made to make WHS irrelevant for my home.

    TB drives are reasonably priced for a Microsoft employee, but not for me.

    I used WHS to patch together a decent sized storage array for my home on NO budget.

    Now I can access all my media through my home server from school.

    You take this away, there's no benefit to the uber streamlined and easy to use WHS, I might as well just use ubuntu instead...

    Seriously, don't ruin this product before it even goes on sale.

  • Eliminating DE...Epic Fail by Microsoft.   Totally out of touch with what their customer wants.

    No wonder the lon -term future of this company is so widely questioned.  The only thing they have done right in the past 5 years is Windows 7 and that's because Vista was so bad to start with and WinXP was EOL.

  • Sasa_RI
    2 Posts

    Let me get this right, You actually get paid for such stupid decisions? Pathetic

  • So what impact will this have on our possibility to upgrade to the new version? I currently have four disks in my system. Two of them are 1TB and the two others are 1,5TB and 2TB. I rely on the file duplication feature in case of one my drivers should fail.

    I also registered on this blog once I heard of this.

  • All my friends were saying don't go WHS - too expensive / too Microsoft etc. etc...I ignored because I thought DE was the perfect solution for home user. Will be deleting over the Christmas holidays and rebuilding with anything other than Microsoft technology...

  • Luke_t
    0 Posts

    This decision seems to be purely based on what is easiest for MS developers ... and not what is in the consumers interest ... not too much of an issue for technically minded users ... but if they are hoping to expand the power home user base it's a bit of a backward progression ... would prefer they delay the "Vail" release to maintain current useful feature set ...

  • Arusha
    0 Posts

    I too signed up to the blog just to comment on this.

    As with others, DE was THE selling point of WHS for me. The ability to just slap in differently sized disks and have it work without needing to think about what data to put on which drive, AND have the security of data duplication - THAT is the essence of WHS to me.

    I know how to work with RAID etc, but to me, it's a suboptimal solution for the home user. I was eagerly waiting for Vail but now.. I think I'll stick with my WHS v.1 box for as long as possible and then find something else. WHS without DE is not WHS at all. It's just a suboptimal way of storing data and I'd probably be better off with a Synology box, or one of the dozens of other solutions.

    You really screwed up with this decision, and I beg you to reconsider.

  • Why are the comments no longer updated? It's 25-11, and the blog only shows 23-11 posts. My comment from yesterday is still not there.

  • Disappointing to say the least.  I was a huge WHS fan specifically because of its drive extender.  I was really excited about Vail, now I have no interest whatsoever in it.  I guess I'll just stick with WHSv1, it's doing mostly fine for me now.   If you get want, I can help you figure out what other defining features you can remove from your products to make them utterly pointless.  I have some ideas about taking some formatting features out of Word and maybe dumping 3/4 of the .NET framework - it's entirely too useful now.  You should "Vail" it (that's my new term for removing one of the 3 defining features of a product and making the product pointless).

  • benifex
    0 Posts

    In the words of John McEnroe:

    YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY BE SERIOUS!!

    Drive extender is a major, major selling point. Removing it makes WHS far less attractive. I was on the seriously considering buying WHS but I don't see it happening now. Unless, that is, MS restores DE and GUARANTEES that it will remain in place.

    While I don't find the prospect of fiddling with a Linux install attractive, at least in the open source world you don't have to deal with this kind of lunacy.

  • I understand the your "MS's" need to cater to business as historically this has been the major source of revenue, that and your OME partners. These two groups have been and I’m sure will continue to be the life blood of MS for the coming years.

    What I don’t get is how you’re missing the big picture, while yes you have a very strong hold on the business IT mindset, what you have apparently failed to see is that in cutting DE you are alienating an established set of WHS customers as well as potential new WHS customers in favor of an unknown market segment.

    Why can’t WHS and SBS be different products, they are surely targeted at two very different market segments.

    Furthermore, requiring the potential users of Vail to look at some sort of Raid solution is a copout, and frankly akin to trying to get more money out of the consumer. Which as you might recall has been a long standing complaint from many Microsoft critics with regards to the ani-viruse problem, where they complained that given the fact that it’s your OS you should be the ones providing the security and not forcing us to have to go to a third party and pay large amounts of money to keep YOUR product running properly.

    To be honest the removal of DE looks like a way to help boost the sale of Raid solutions that are and could be produced by your partners and is not in favor of your customers.

    Please rethink your decision on this matter and for once actually do something for the consumer!

  • Doncho
    0 Posts

    Huge mistake! I'm WHS user since almost the beginning. Without DE I'll rethink twice if I'll (ever) upgrade my server to Vali. I'll also definitely start looking for alternatives, but I'm afraid there're not much available right now.

    Imagine the storage upgrade path now, for a standard Vali user? Instead of just plugging the hard drive and adding it via DE, now we need to configure RAID instead. Do we need to have disk pairs now? I'm afraid we do. Do we need downtime on the server, while RAID mirrors data? I'm afraid we do.

    This is a BAD DECISION. It comes from someone, who's totally out of the field, and who's definitely not listening to his customers. CPE? Blah! "We listen"? Double blah!

    Now it's the time to see do you really listen to the people's voice, or it's all just fancy, corporate words, like the BS Bingo in the post: "will provide customers greater choice", "meeting our customer needs"... Interesting how you will meet the needs by removing vital and winning features.

    I'm sorry for a bit harsh post, but I'm so disappointed right now!

  • I never post on anything ever but this is crazy. Like everyone else that has posted over the past few days I believe DE to be an essential part of WHS. Without it Home Server, SBS Essentials and Windows Storage Server 08 R2 are just an expensive NAS. The cool part of of the Storage Server is that you could have the features of aurora and vail to an existing Active Directory. Not anymore that SKU is pointless. Aurora is great, WHS features plus being able to create an AD and use Office 365. Without DE these three products are going to be alot harder for the non-IT user to use. Not a big deal for WSS08R2 because this will most likely be added to an existing network, but SBS Essentials is for the small business owner who just wants things to work. Having to backup all your data just to add another disk to RAID is NOT user friendly. Nobody wins here. I hope everyone who reads this will go to the WHS page on Mcrosoft Connect http://bit.ly/fallHn and Vote to ad DE back into these otherwise amazing products

    Brock

  • Proteus
    0 Posts

    This was a logical move people.

    Yes, there are some people who want to mix their old 200Gb, 320GB, and 500GB SATAs, and make a nice big JBOD.

    But, they're delusional. 2TB SATA drives can be had for $100 now. $100!!!

    Why on earth would you want to you a bunch of older, slower crappier drives instead?

    A proper WHS solution will be made up of 2, or 4, or perhaps 6 or 8 2TB drives (or 12x2TB like mine, with a RAID6 controller because I'm paranoid).

    Using old drives is a nice trick, but most customers are going to buy a brand new server, preloaded with VAIL. And OEMs are not going to ship those servers with anything less than 1TB drives..more like 2TB. Storage is cheap.

  • Another comment about losing drive extender - how much is it going to cost be when I run out of space and have to buy a new array of matching drives to replace my old smaller array! With whs and drive extender I just buy a single 2 tb drive at $99 to gain 2 tb space. Now I have to buy a whole raid array of drives to gain that space? That's at a minimum three 2 tb  drives at $99 for $300 dollars. And then when 3 GB drives are plentiful at least another $300-400 to replace my 2gb drives. Or fudge with a new drive controller and find cabinet space for my new 3 GB drives? How is this going to jive with all in ones systems like HP's mediasmart line - no room for another array and drives in there! can somebody say drobo?

  • I have to say, removing this drive extending feature is the one bad idea I've heard when it comes to WHS, and if implemented means my HPEX485 will be the last WHS product I purchase. The drive extender is the main reason I use whs, it is just easy to add endless space to a single virtual drive where I can throw everything digital in my life. As a tech professional, I don't want to waste time with managing raid arrays at home, I want something that just works like current whs where I can drop a new drive in and forget about it, and the drives can be all kinds of different sizes, unlike raid.  If I have to spend hours managing the thing it does not make sense to buy this product. MS, this should not be targeted at small businesses, you have small business server for that. This is windows HOME server. The home user does not want to be bothered with RAID arrays.

    If you do this foolish thing, I'm going to move to a linux server when my current WHS is no longer feasible. And I'll have to recommend Apples Time capsule to my friends. Yes, Time capsule.

  • Proteus
    0 Posts

    Well, and bravely done. The drive extender concept had huge problems, especially with the large overheard, low levels of data protection (essentially RAID0 without replication), and simply didn't scale to the many TB of storage that will be found on modern home servers next year. Nice to see Microsoft own the problem.

    firmware RAID is common, and free on most motherboard chipsets, and will do the job. Very solid hardware RAID controllers is available for $100-$300.

  • Please visit the FB page I created, WHS Users in Support of Drive Extender, and "like" it.  There is strength in numbers, and hopefully we can convince Microsoft that they're making a HUGE mistake!

    www.facebook.com

  • its decided...i will be buying a readynas...

  • Clearly your feedback process is broken. I don't want to be cynical and suggest that citing 'feedback' that DE isn't needed was just an excuse for dropping one of the most useful parts of WHS. Was any of your feedback from the 150+ commenters on this post? Take a look and see the feedback here. Your customers want DE. Fact.

  • Crile
    0 Posts

    They may they solved an engineering problem by "Just Saying No", but rest assured the market will not care that your internal development team is happy. Just listen to that corporatese: "While this removes..."  Kinda like "While you will no longer have an eyeball, Mr. Smith, your hearing will get much more acute". This was a poor decision that you should reverse in a hurry, even if your techies don't like it...

  • fth
    0 Posts

    As s long time WHS (v1) user, i am very saddened to hear that DE is being dropped. DE is the single feature that has made me stick with the platform. If MS does not reconsider this, I will be switching to a hardware NAS solution ASAP, probably Drobo. To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman:  "Big mistake, huge mistake!"

  • nexizen
    0 Posts

    This is easily the worse idea I have heard today. Drive Extender was the ONLY reason I used WHS. Without it why not just install Windows XP or Vista or 7?  

    Forget it, I'll just install Solaris with ZFS and all it a day.

  • joshg21
    0 Posts

    Horrible. I am a long time WHS user and I will not be upgrading to Vail. I am disappointed beyond belief.

  • userpt
    0 Posts
  • Wow. Just. Wow. This is unbelievable. I'm not sure whether to call this incompetence or arrogance. Or both. What's the price going to be on this useless product?

  • djsgr
    0 Posts

    Wow is this a very early april fools day post or something?

    This has to be a joke, what happened to the "home" in home server?  Are you renaming this product Windows Non Home Server now?

    I mean come on this is horrible, this product is completely useless to everyone now.  

    I guess you did get it right using the term "Vail" aka Veil because it's nothing more than just a plain vanilla version of Server 2008 R2 !  Lift the veil and you'll see something you can already have.

    You have lost me as a home server customer, I will be forced to stay with what I have now and limited to using 2TB harddrives as the max size.

    Thank you very much microsuck, truly Thank You!  You have left me with no upgrade path, there is no longer a point in even developing Vail any further you can consider it a complete "gold" product today.

    Congratulations on actually beating a release date.

  • larsv
    0 Posts

    "When weighing up the future direction of storage in the consumer and SMB market, the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs. "

    SERIOUSLY??? Maybe you should GET OUT more and talk to actual WHS customers, to get a feel for what we think is important. THE KILLER FEATURE in WHS is DE. Without it, WHAT'S THE POINT??!? I have plenty of RAID NAS boxes that can do what a WHS without DE can do - there's a good reason they are not in use anymore. Idiots.

  • Wow!!  What a dumb idea.  Who came up with the idea to remove the primary selling point of WHS? Dumb!!  I hope this comes back to bite MS in the pocket book. I wonder what kind of kickbacks they are going to get from their OEM partners? Bad move Microsoft!!  If you remove DE then why would anyone want to buy WHS??  You can build RAID on most any PC now.

  • I also just made this account after searching high and low for somewhere for me to vent my utter dismay at this decision.  I had been talking up WHS to my family and friends and had even been planning on building a new server once Vail came out.  Consider all of that over.  If SMB don't like DE then include the ability to TURN IT OFF, after all it's just software.  Or even better if they don't like it tell them to go buy a full Windows Server or hell even one of the many Linux servers.  The whole point of WHS was that it was dead simple for HOME users.  Hell DE is so awesome I was fully expecting to see it included in Windows 8 so people with desktops don't have to screw around with horrible horrible RAID.

    In closing enjoy your Thanksgiving because I'm praying that when you get back on Monday you will all find pink slips on your desks.

  • hmss007
    0 Posts

    This will be a major deal breaker for me.  If this remains true, I'll sell my HP MediaSmart server and replace it with a Drobo FS.

  • CHAWSi
    0 Posts

    Your logic for dropping the product is flawed.   I use WHS for the storage of large HD video, HD pictures and PC backups...  HD video files are really quite large and the demand on storage makes 1 TB and 2 TB drives actually quite small over a period of a year.  The storage demands of your average home user given the advent of HD video technology, and now 3D video technology, really does make the need for drive extender technology still valid.  

    As for RAID technology, it will help with this increase in home server storage demand, but your average home users will not understand the differing RAID levels nor the complexity of adding drives to a RAID set, and then extending the volumes within the OS.

    Please reconsider your thoughts and direction on this.  I'm beginning to look at other products for myself and to recommend to family and friends.

  • fhaber
    0 Posts

    Sigh.  Looks like a Drobo's in my future.  Dumb move

  • deanL
    0 Posts

    Drive Extender MADE WHS WHAT IT IS TODAY.

      ... i repeat ...

    Drive Extender MADE WHS WHAT IT IS TODAY.

      ... i repeat ...

    Drive Extender MADE WHS WHAT IT IS TODAY.

    Taking this feature out would be a huge mistake.  PLEASE reconsider. Fix whatever you believe is broken, but don't take DE out. Add me to the list of people who signed up just to voice my concerns.  Trying to qualify this decision by saying big hard drives are cheap is no excuse.  WHS started as a HOME storage solution. You're trying to bring raid into the picture? WHS was the ANTI-RAID and is what made it such a great product.

    Who decides this stuff? They better damn well be running a WHS at home and better have set up WHS for friends and family, too, in order to be even qualified to join in on this discussion, much less making the final decision.  Who makes these decisions? Do they not GET IT? Please reconsider. Talk to the real customers, not the "partners" who are out of touch with reality.  The "partners" are looking out for themselves, not for you, Microsoft. Taking out DE would be a huge mistake.

  • Having calmed down just slightly, can we go back a level and look at the key use cases around storage management for a simple home user who wants redundancy but doesn't necessarily have a raid system

    - User wants to extend storage (ideal: just plug new drive in)

    - User wants to add duplication for selected share (ideal: just click a checkbox)

    If this is still possible without DE - great. Win 2008 of course already has dynamic volumes - what's the gap here in capability/reliability/performance/usability when compared to DE.

    If the message is that the exact same capabilities will be possible, just that the implementation differs then that's ok... what I'm worried about is the functional/usability gaps that dropping DE may uncover ...

  • This is horrible news.  Drive Extender is really the only reason why I ponied up the money to buy WHS.  If it's not in Vail, I won't be buying it.  You guys are shooting yourselves in the foot with this decision.  WHS is a great product and you're crippling it.  Please re-think this decision.

  • alex b.
    0 Posts

    Are you out of your mind??? This is Home Server we are talking about right? You know, the product MS designed for your average home network user to be able to actually use? Drive Extender is probably the number one reason people would even purchase this as a Microsoft home product. Did you do consumer testing on this? There is now no reason to purchase this over one of the (now) much strong contenders out there. Thanks for killing off this product line ...

  • I also signed up to this blog just to post a comment.

    I will not be purchasing "Vail."  I would have loved to experience new features, but without Drive Extender, this system is worthless to me.  It has been the most user friendly way for me to set up a home media server.  Really, it's been amazing, and without this swift little feature it's nothing to me.  

    I would rather waste my time learning Linux than buy a WHS edition without Drive Extender.

  • Cutting the Drive Extender functionality Vail is a horrible idea! Microsoft called it Windows HOME Server because it's meant for personal use in the HOME. The easy upgrade and duplication that Drive Extender allowed was one of the main reasons I went with WHS. By removing this functionality, Microsoft is forcing otherwise happy customers to look elsewhere for their home server needs. Not a smart move.

  • Leaving my piece among the myriad negative comments.  This is a complete reversal of why I decided to purchase WHS (after debating several alternatives).  Drive Extender is the KEY feature that sold me on this product.  I do not want to have to support my own RAID solution, and attempting to rationalize this decision by saying "drives are cheap" completely devalues your reputation and responsibility to making a quality product.

    I will continue to use my current WHS (I will not upgrade to Vail) until I can find a reasonable alternative.  I've already jumped ship on all other Microsoft products.  This one was the only hold-out.

  • "...the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs."

    Did they ask?  I doubt they did by the looks of the response.  This was a selling point and one of the MAJOR reasons I went with your product instead of another.  I was just about to purchase my second Home Server product and one for my family but this news will seriously make me reevaluate that purchase decision.

    How exactly does this provide customers "greater choice?"  If you mean by turning us towards other products and services by other companies, then yes.  You are absolutely correct.

    I am just curious.  HOW does removing this feature improve the Home Server software?  Does it enable new features and functions that weren't possible before?  Does it improve performance because we all know that is needed?  Will it allow support of older products like the original HP Media Center?

    It sounds more like cutting corners in the development process than improving the software.

  • JG2
    0 Posts

    Drive Extender is probably one of the two feature that defines WHS and makes it such a compelling product for home use (other is idiot proof backups). The thought that 2TB and 3TB drives can replace pooling shows how disconnected you are from the change in  usage patterns of WHS in recent years: HD digital camera, camcorders, and HD downloadable media (itunes, amazon, zune mp, vudu),  the low cost netbook that increased the number of computers at home (and consequently the backup storage requirements) all pretty much negated the increase in capacity of single drive. My WHS v1 already have 4x2TB drives pooled and I am currently shopping for eSATA port replicator enclosure rather than raid, because how simple and easy it is to expand storage on demand with Drive Extender.

    What's next? You will remove email support in Exchange since text messaging become cheaper and is freely available.

  • rbaugh
    0 Posts

    Really?  Really?  You're ruining a wonderful product by destroying some of the key functionality that made WHS an excellent solution for a LOT of people.  This was one of the selling points for me, and I don't understand how removing this functionality is a move in a positive direction.  I work for a large organization, managing servers w/ RAID configurations all day, and the complexities you can occasionally encounter are NOT something I want to worry about on my "set it and forget it" home server.

    I understand the need to make decisions on technologies going forward, but this just sounds like you're giving up on something super promising.  At this point, I'm never upgrading WHS.  Good luck w/ your Vail adoption numbers, because I really don't know a single user who will be willing to make the move now.

  • mklos
    0 Posts

    Like many of the other folks posting here, I joined this just to respond to this post.

    Drive Extender/Storage Pooling removed for HOME users. SERIOUSLY? I have been upselling this next release as "the thing to buy" to all my non-techie friends and associates. Now there's no reason to upgrade or buy at all.

    Might as well grab the current beta and hack it to run indefinitely.

    Screw you guys.

  • Have you all gone completely insane?  Drive Extender was the *sole* reason that I purchased my WHS box.  As far as I'm concerned, alongside automated backup, it is the sole reason to own a WHS device.

    Do you want us to manually duplicate all of the folders or something?  Or, heaven forbid, a RAID system that takes 10 hours to rebuild and then probably fails, destroying all of your data?  Wonderful.

    Vail is now striked off my future purchase list.