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On Thursday Microsoft confirmed the availability of the Windows Home Server 2011 release candidate, which is designed to give OEM’s and power users an opportunity to test the final code prior to commercial release. The newest version of Home Server is not only a great opportunity to take a look at the successor to one of our favorite NAS solutions, but it also allows us to take an objective look at what a world without drive extender actually looks like.
Windows Home Server does include a host of new and interesting features, but let’s just deal with the elephant in the room shall we? If Drive Extender’s ability to create limitless pools of redundant storage using mixed drives was your primary reason for loving the first version of Home Server, you might want to jump in now before 2011 is your only option. Data redundancy going forward is going to be handled either by automated server backups to internal/external drives, or using hardware based RAID.
As a huge fan of the original WHS I can say that Microsoft has done a genuinely fantastic job of enhancing and cleaning up the dashboard interface. The release of the Windows Server Solutions SDK also makes me optimistic about the future of the add-in ecosystem. The original Home Server had less than a dozen worth while add-ins, and the idea never really caught on.
Check out the Windows Home Server blog to read about all the changes, and expect to hear more from us on Home Server front in the coming months.