We’ve followed the Windows Home Server group since their first public announce at CES (part 1 | part2), and we would like to congratulate them on releasing early! On Friday, Sr. Product Manager Joel Sider invited us over to be flies on the wall for their RTM button-pushing ceremony.
WHS manufacturers will start with HP, Gateway, LaCie, Iomega, and Fujitsu-Siemens. All kinds of Home Servers are going to be available, I’ve seen towers, boxes, and reference designs of a puck version. I built my own (and so can you) but the benefit of a manufactured model is the adherence to Microsoft guidelines in things like noise reduction and hardware features like easy access to drives.
Applications are emerging; Embedded Automation’s mControl software will integrate with WHS to control home lighting, cameras, climate control, and AV systems. Iron Mountain will offer data protection for your data protection (good in case of fire, I assume), Lagotek’s Home Intelligence Platform will support Home Server. PacketVideo will enable streaming from Home Server to a variety of devices. Riptopia will suck your entire CD collection to your Home Server, and SageTV media server is onboard with SageTV Placeshifter. I installed Orb this weekend on the Home Server RTM and now I'm able to stream all my videos, music, and pictures to my 3G Smartphone.
Don’t see a function you like? It’s an open platform, so write your own and upload it to http://www.wegotserved.co.uk. Some of the add-ins so far include LobsterTunes, which will stream your music from your Home Server to a Windows Mobile smartphone through WiFi or 3G, Photosync automatically syncs the photos on your WHS with Flickr, and there are several options for waking up a sleeping computer anywhere on your network from the control panel.
For those new to WHS, your Home Server has a domain name and your WHS control panel (and therefore the computers connected to it) are accessible from an internet connection. So you can log in from a hotel on the road, turn on your sleeping home computer, remote in and use it, and then shut it back down when you're done. I've been using it for several months and it has officially replaced my Tivo as the last device I would give up.