News, Windows Home Server

HP Pulls Out of the Windows Home Server Market, Leaves Vail Out in the Cold

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HP today announced an immediate withdrawal from the Windows Home Server market.

In a briefing earlier this month, the company explained that the recent acquisition of Palm had led to a shift in business priorities across the organisation, resulting in the decision to drop the HP MediaSmart Server range. Existing inventory of the EX490 and EX495 will be sold through over the holidays, whilst the company have committed to supporting existing customers through to the end of their support periods.

Meanwhile, the MediaSmart development team have already been broken up and re-deployed elsewhere in the organisation, most notably to support the further development of WebOS devices in 2011.

The move will be seen as a significant blow to Microsoft, who partnered with HP throughout the development of the first Windows Home Server release and launch of the MediaSmart Server back in 2007. Whilst the company did not make any connection between their decision to drop Windows Home Server and Microsoft’s recent announcement to cull Drive Extender from the platform’s next release, lower than expected sales undoubtedly contributed to the demise of the MediaSmart Server, with little hope of a meaningful sales boost from next year’s hobbled release.

Work on a 2011 Vail-powered MediaSmart Server had been ongoing throughout the year – I had lengthy discussions with the company earlier this year regarding their development plans for the product. Today’s announcement and a recent agreement with Data Robotics Inc to sell the Drobo range through the HP Small Business Direct Store clearly demonstrate that the company have moved on to support other solutions. With Microsoft’s lead hardware partner out of the picture, the question now is whether Microsoft can retain platform support from Acer, ASUS, Lenovo and LaCie for the next generation home server SKU.

HP stressed that today’s announcement only affects the consumer HP MediaSmart Server line. Plans to support forthcoming Small Business Server SKUs, namely Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials have yet to be formally announced by the company.

Update: Microsoft have responded to HP’s announcement over at the Windows Team Blog, quoting support for Vail from Acer, Tranquil PC and…. we said Acer, right?

This news is in no way related to recent announcements about feature changes in Windows Home Server “Vail.”

Microsoft continues to work on delivering ”Vail” to our customers. We are working very closely with our partners such as Acer, Tranquil and many System Builders to bring the best solution to market.

From our partners:

  • Vail will have a big impact on the home media environment, providing an easy streaming and seamless digital file sharing experience for consumers, and Acer is excited to be alongside Microsoft delivering on this goal” says Gianpiero Morbello, Acer Group Corporate Vice President Marketing & Brand.
  • “We are entirely committed to the future of Windows Home Server V1 and V2.” says D J Thompson, Managing Director of Tranquil PC, “We will also ensure that there is a suitable transition path from V1 to V2 for our existing and new clients.”

You can read a longer statement from Tranquil PC over on their blog.

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Terry Walsh is the founder of We Got Served. He started the community in February 2007 with a mission to help families, tech enthusiasts everywhere figure out the technology needed to run the modern home and small business. He's the author of a number of guides to Windows, Windows Server and OS X Server and runs his own successful publishing business. Born and raised in Liverpool, England, Terry has been awarded Microsoft's prestigious Most Valuable Professional Award each year since 2008 for his work on We Got Served.
  • Just as I thought, and this almost confirms it, the WHS product is dead. I expect we'll see within the next month or so an official announcement from Microsoft that the product is being discontinued so they can focus on the small business market.

    So long WHS… you were truly ahead of your time.

    • SteepAndDeep

      I actually think that the concepts behind WHS are outdated. Everything is moving to cloud computing – why store data locally?

      • Stugg

        For those of us who enjoy instant access to our high definition media (ie; ripped Blu-ray movies and FLAC audio), cloud computing isn't going to be a viable option for a long time. Data storage costs are still too expensive, and Internet speeds are still too slow in general (in the U.S. at least), which makes a home server product very desirable to many.

        Also, call me paranoid, but I prefer to keep personal data within the confines of my home network, not on someone else's server, where their technicians have access to it.

      • The Cloud has a long way to go before it gets mass adoption by consumers. Many of us (myself included) live in rural areas where 6MB DSL is the absolute max in terms of bandwidth. Trying to pull large files down, not to mention uploading them in the first place which would another nightmare, is simply not feasible.

        Add to that the cost of storage — even using Amazon's S3 service if you have 1TB of data you would be paying a nice chunk of change every month.

        The Cloud is great for web based email, sharing photos, etc. — but for storage of in-home entertainment and confidential files — no way.

  • Yeah I'm pretty confident this is the end of the road for WHS. Damn it Microsoft. This was a really good product. I'm beginning to think my next home server is going to be a Mac Mini with a Drobo S attached with FW800 (or maybe USB 3.0, or light peak if we ever get to that point). Still wont be anywhere near as elegant as WHS or Vail could have been.

  • BigP

    Yah, was looking forward to Vail too. Elegant, Simple, and highly extensible. Pulling the trigger on a Synology, either a ds411+ or ds1010+.

  • Rychek

    This is bleak news for the future of WHS. At least I haven't purchased all of the new hardware for my Vail server. Unless Microsoft pulls a really big, happy rabbit out of their hat (something I'm not holding my breath for), replacing my WHS v1 with similar functioning devices down the road will be much more complex. I guess it's time to actually attempt to setup Amahi….

  • Jordan

    Nooooooooo! Sad day indeed. This marks the end for WHS. I have been using the Vail beta for a while now and I was really looking forward to the official release. *crosses fingers and hopes for some kind of miracle*

  • ben

    We've been served… end of life papers.

  • ksj

    Second time HP has screwed me on current product they decided to discontinue like this. I won't be buying HP product anymore.

    • boggy4062

      1. Same feeling about HP. This is a company that turn from a reliable vendor to a flimsy third world shady company. Hopefully Dell will fill the gap. NO MORE HP products for me (no printer, no scanner, no NOTHING)
      2. As far as Microsoft … well, this is what happens when you screw your OEMs – they WILL drop you and your products.

    • this has nothing to do with hp. i fully understand and support.

    • ricardo

      Me Too. Won't ever buy another HP product / computer again. 3rd time I have been screwed by them discontinuing a product line

  • Alistair

    Don't blame HP, blame Microsoft. Everyone is saying they will not upgrade from V1 to Vail so why would we expect HP to manufacture hardware for a software solution no one wants. If MS put DE back and added Media Center then I think HP would reconsider their position.

    Bottom line – HP is not going to make good hardware that is going to be hobbled by a stupid decision from MS.

  • MS marketed the product all wrong. It should have been pitched to small businesses (ie less than 10 users) and home users.

    The name frightened a lot of potential customers off.

  • Ascario

    Not really surprising, and no wonder they didn't sell much. It took them almost 2 years to launch their mediasmart servers in Europe. Heck the only OEM who provided a WHS server in Europe was Fujitsu-Siemens and they don't even exist anymore. I wish OEMs would start to release a product world wide instead of only to certain local markets. I can understand this for products such as OLPC, but not for products like servers and pc's.

    I do however concur with most of you that this marks the end for WHS, sadly… Perhaps other solutions will crop up with full media center integration.

  • A real shame about WHS. I have to agree this is about it for it. It's obvious they have lost any vision or desire to make WHS anymore.

  • phaze

    i have to agree with Alistair: not HP's fault. If Microsoft isn't providng a platform that people would want or use, why bother with the hardware?

    I just CAN NOT understand Microsoft. WHY don't they give us what we all have been saying for years?? A simple server solution that does backups, file sharing, and FULL MEDIA CENTER , streaming, etc. I just can't understand it … fear of success?

    Microsoft: if you build it they will come…

  • Guest

    I had a feeling that was coming.

    HP basically saying no. Why would a company that likes to make money say no to making and selling a product?

    Because it wasnt going to make any money! There wasnt enough reason for users to upgrade, so they weren't going to buy it. MS can spin this how it likes but even HP have told them now.

  • Jon

    No wonder Newegg was selling the EX495 for $449 on black Friday and i bit and bought 1 to replace my aging ex475 .. I still dont regret buying it , i don't need HP service , it should run fine for years until something can replace it

  • Generious

    Earlier this year I spent around a grand on a new WHS build that would be ready for VAIL when it came out.

    After piss poor performance from VAIL I decided to get rid of it back then and rebuild my system as a ESX4i host and beef up the ram in it, and I have WHS v1 running as a VM now with around 12TB of storage in the back.

    Looks like I will be building another VM and going to try Amahi out for a bit and eventually start moving all my data onto this instead, they have some nice feature coming down the line that WHS would never be able to do…

    VAIL = FAIL

    I don't blame HP pulling out again on this either they are in it to make money the media smart series used to sell pretty good, now with DE removed from VAIL makes the entire product useless regardless of what MS say about it, they claim to be commited to it but are clearly aren't…

    Amahi here I come

  • EddieV

    No more HP for me!!! Why do I want to buy products from a company that just pulls the rug right under their customers. HP should have expanded their Home server market to Small or Miniature businesses that could use a simple backup and file sharing server. Lots of small and home grown business don't realize the advantages this server has and that should have been their selling point. HP gave up on Microsoft for financial reasons, I'm giving up on HP for the same reason also.

  • Mike

    This is bad news for the future of WHS for sure. For now I will happily let WHS v1 run while I start to look at alternatives. It will have to be something good for me to build a new system and migrate my data – and I don't mind waiting to do that. So far I have Amahi, unRaid and Nexenta on my short list. If Microsoft can pull Vail out of the fire and deliver a compelling product I don't mind waiting for that. I'm not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water just yet … especially as Greyhole (the DE feature in Amahi is still in Beta) and Nexenta Community Edition has a 12Tb limit …

  • Nate

    I KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!)@(#*$

    MS screws up every good thing they have, which is why I waited to buy a MediaSmart server until the 48X series came out, because it seemed like it was going to go well into the future. So much for that.

    A list of Microsoft things that they left me out in the cold on.

    1) Sidewinder hardware, more specifically GameTalk. That was awesome.
    2) Microsoft Money
    3) Fingerprint Reader
    4) Home Server 🙁

    They will kill WHS, and guess what — if any of us want to upgrade to Windows 8 when it comes out, guess what won't be compatible… WHS.

  • RichNY

    Wouldnt bash HP – they can only follow MS – and their HPMSS is/was the class of the field.
    MS really seems in poor shape – they seem to be able to do little new right – except if you want to buy a new glitzy game controller

  • Chris P

    Congratulations Microsoft on your latest Linux convert. Ive been supporting Microsoft systems since Windows 3.1 and all I do now is remove viruses from Windows PC's. I was an avid user of Home Server now looking into Open Source solutions which cannot be taken away at some whim. Seriously done with all the corporate crap, the DRM , the malware, and paying for dead end software. Really pissed at this. Oh and all the Silverlight training I did will really come in handy too.
    Thanks MS

  • Bernard

    All in the space of a couple of weeks, HP decides to carry Drobo, Microsoft announces changes to Home Server, and now HP dump Windows Home Server.
    These people do NOT wake up one morning and decide to make these kinds of changes just for the heck of it. They've been hashing this over for months.
    And for the benefit marketing gurus at Microsoft and HP, if you think I am going to stick my data out in the "cloud", NO WAY.

  • autodrivel

    Hmmmm.
    I've just checked and as of 5 minutes ago my Ex475 was still working.
    I've just kicked off a backup of one of the attached PCs – worked fine
    My daughter is watching a ripped-DVD stored on the Server – that's working fine.

    Seems like all of the things that I bought my Ex475 to do, nearly 3 years ago, it's still doing today. The main attraction for me of WHS on a MediaSmart platform, was a small, neat unit with a sensible OS, that just got on with the job. Well it's still doing it and it'll still keep doing it until something breaks. The increasing likelyhood that VAIL will be stillborn and won't have HP as the midwife, isn't going to break my Ex475 today – The sky IS NOT falling!
    If my Ex475 lasts for another year (quite likely) before dying, then I will think that great value for money. If what I replace it with isn't made by HP and the OS isn't WHS V2, I won't feel obligated to scream "No Fair!!"/"B*stards!"/"I'll never buy MS or HP again"
    In fact, given the likelyhood of End-of-Line sales on the Ex490/495s, I'd be very tempted to buy one as a replacement for my elderly unit and put the latter out to pasture-with-honors.

    • Chris P

      The problem is when the next version of Windows comes out will there be a connector for that operating system? Will there be hooks into the next version of Media Center? Will Microsoft support current versions if all future version are cancelled. The time will come when security patches are no longer made for all the currenly running systems as they are all based on server 2003. The whole point is the product is quickly becoming a dead end and its a shame because it was a great product that I would recommend to anyone wanting this type of solution.

    • Wise words – FWIW, if HP have different priorities now, that's their perogative. It's down to Microsoft to engage their partners to support the sales of their products – that's how their business model has worked for years, and little had changed.

      HP was a great supporter of the home server community – the team were hugely passionate about the category, and whilst they didn't always get it right, they continued to support the range with continued upgrades and new features. They'll be missed.

    • Cheesewiz

      I tend to agree. It is clear that most of the crying right now is based on the likely hood of something perhaps not happening in the future. There is much writing on the wall that WHS is dead but it is not certain. HP is getting out now, but they will continue to support the current crop of systems for several years in any case. It is not the end of the world.

      What happens if MS does kill WHS? WHS v1 does not evaporate nor does their support for it. XP, which was released 10 years ago, will still be supported (updates, etc.) until 2014. It is highly unlikely that WHS, the core of which is one of the most popular server platforms ever made, will not have support even beyond that. No matter the final outcome of this issue the world will not stop spinning and your WHS boxes will continue to work for years to come. It is time to relax.

      • -=Hulk=-

        That right.

        But there is a problem about WHS v1, it doesn't support HDD over 2TB, and it doesn't align partitions by default. These 2 points will generate some headaches to most users in the near future.

        • Cheesewiz

          Agreed. There are a number of issues. My point is that even so the level of total despair described in many posts here and elsewhere is just ludicrous. Yes it would suck if MS drops WHS and I will be doing some complaining myself, but it is simply not the end of the world and there will be others, obviously smarter than MS, that will fill the vacuum.

        • john3347

          "These 2 points will generate some headaches to most users"

          I disagree with one word in this statement. I think these two points will will generate some headaches to only a VERY FEW advanced users. I think that while those users are in the "spotlight", they are the vast minority. Most users have a total of 1 to as much as perhaps 2 TB total storage. WHS v1 continues to provide exactly the functions that the majority of WHS users need and can continue to do so for a long time to come if the product is not screwed up with too much "development". Perhaps Aurora, or a similar product would be more suitable for the advanced user with cutting edge technology and huge storage needs. Leave WHS for the HOME user.

    • EddyKilowatt

      My sentiments, pretty much exactly. My homebrew Atom box is doing the job I built it to do, and I can upgrade its disks to 2TB (one at a time… thanks DE!) when they get full sometime next year. I am just now upgrading the house to Win7 (via the again-available Family Pack) so Win8 support is a distant concern to me. Two years is a long time in the tech world, we'll see if someone else (Company A?) comes out with a multifaceted DLNA/backup/remote access solution by then That runs on 20 watts.

      I was looking forward to building a new system for Vail and exploring whatever new features it offered, but when it appeared in Beta without Media Center or other major gains, and then lost DE… my disappointment is mostly at Microsoft for breaking free of the competition, and then failing to realize they had an open field and fumbling the ball away. Clueless.

    • autodrivel

      My thinking in making my original post, is that a decent WHS/hardware combo like the Ex475 is essentially a commodity item. You buy it to do a job (Backup your PCs/store your media), just like a DVD player and when it no longer does the job, you get a new one. The DVD player analogy is a little stretched, 'cos you can tweak an Ex475 a lot more than your average dvd player. But essentially, tweaking just means it'll do the job needed for longer.

      @ChrisP – you're quite right, one of the things that will eventually "break" on WHS V1 is new OS's won't support it, so your new Windows 8 PC won't (might not) work with it. But that's a minimum of 2 years away. My WHS handles backups for 8 PC's, only 3 of which are Win7 – I can't afford to & don't need to upgrade; Wife, Kids, Mother-in-dragon, and Sister 's PC to the latest OS, so they run happily on Vista & XP. I suspect in 2 years time, they will all be on win7 and my PCs will be the Win8 boxes – and if that breaks WHS V1 – then I've had 5 years of use for about £500.
      @Hulk On the Advanced format 2TB disk front. Again, I don't see this as a huge issue in the next 2 years. 2TB disk prices (WD Greens in my case) are only just becoming affordable (at my level), i.e. around the £70 mark. So the 3TB & (soon I assume) 4 TB drives just starting to appear are going to take 18months+ to get close to where I can cost-justify using them.
      As regards alignment, I just put them in my main machine (win7) to create the aligned partitions, before putting them in my Ex475.
      Using 2TB disks as an example: That makes 8TB in a stand-alone Ex475 or 16 TB if you add an external eSATA 4Bay tower. That's a shedload of storage! The only thing you are going to fill that up with quickly is DVD and/or BluRay rips – 2TB == 450+ DVD rips or 50+ BluRays. At any average of say £10 for a DVD or £15 for a BluRay, thats a lot of expense.

      So overall – yeah it'll be pants if WHS dies, but I think that I've got at least 2 years to see how things turn out.

  • addicted4ever

    Goodbye WHS, Goodbye Microsoft…(I use to be a Microsoft fanboy). :'(

  • bjmedich

    Between a Raid configured box being a lot more expensive and people not going to upgrade to vail without DE, HP decided to cut its loses and get out while the getting was good

  • Fanfoot

    This was obvious from the minute we learned Microsoft was dropping Drive Extender. Assuming Vail even survives as a home product, which I doubt, the only reasonable way to run it now would be using something like a Mac Mini connected to a Drobo. And that's just not a configuration for the average person. If the sales previously were lackluster this is going to be a disaster. I assume Drobo stock is going up on this news…

  • Kemchuk

    What customers are they talking about? And who is migrating from V1 to V2? It's like taking an 8cyl Mercedes and "upgrading" it to a 4cyl Fiat. Not that there is anything wrong with a Fiat, but seriously who wouldn't just drive the Mercedes into the ground and then just get a Volvo "Drobo" when it died?

  • Michael

    Have EX470… Should I be worried about getting replacement parts if something goes wrong with my server? It has been acting up lately.
    I have used about 5.5TB of 10.5TB. Any advice for possibly getting the files/pic/videos off of this and onto another platform?
    Thank you.

    • Adam

      My EX475 died about 9 months ago after a relatively short 14 month life span. At the time I phoned HP Canada who informed me that my model was end of life and that they no longer offered replacement parts.

  • eagle63

    I don't doubt at all that HP was planning this long before the Vail DE debacle. I mean, in all seriousness, other than geeks like us (and our family members whom we've pushed WHS on) who buys WHS? Answer: no one.

  • GuustFlater

    I still can't believe MS is killing such a wonderful product. I don't blame HP. They did a great job in providing first generations of good platforms. They will still provide one excellent platform, where you have to put WHS (v1) on yourself, being the HP Microserver.

    I hope I can still enjoy v1 for many years, and hopefully we will see a proper successor in the next year(s).

  • John Loeffler

    I had a sick feeling HP might pull out of the WHS market when Microsoft stopped development of Drive Extender for Vail… This is really a sad day. I have owned a lot of HP, and I have sold many, many millions of dollars of HP gear as a reseller. The MediaSmart server is among my very, very favorite HP purchases… an amost perfect and extremely useful device. All I can say now is go to hell HP, I have purchased my last HP product. Microsoft can go to hell too… wish it was possible for me to never buy another MS product.

    • Disgusted

      I am sure HP will do just fine without you if you're that fickle. Seriously, if you were losing money and the future prospects given the delays and failures of MS would YOU stay in the business? doubtful. See beyond your nose and think about your business and how you run it unless you like losing money…….

  • Ben There

    I was a big fan of the tablet PC. I'm using one now. I see WHS following the path of the Tablet PC. Poor Marketing and support from MS. There were plenty of vendors and developers wanting to make the Tablet succeed. My motion slate tablet is much like the iPad except the iPad has a better interface, a lot of neat apps (that have been well built) and is lighter. The failure of the tablet was not that the market didn't want it. Perhaps being the early adopter killed the tablet. There were many concerns in the community about the tablets weight. Seems like Apple solved that with the new technology. MS lost steam enhancing the OS (I know – pen capabilities were built into Vista and W7) and the tablet manufactures made good attempts to improve the hardware but it just wasn't good enough.

    WHS seemed to be going strong but dropping DE and now HP pulling out doesn't look good. Whatever the problems are, can't a company focus on addressing each problem even as part of a phased approach? If Apple demos an iServer that does what WHS does but with better usability (and WHS had some usability issues) will the public climb over each other to get one?

  • Rich

    Anyone have any discs for EX485 3.0 version? I ordered mine but the order was cancelled. I could really use them now since HP is leaving the market for WHS.

    • Steven

      I'm with Rich here. Reading this news I went to order version 3.0 from hp but it no longer appears to be available 🙁 Anyone know of another source for the discs? Are the 3.0 discs model specific?

      • Michael

        Move over I'm in the same boat as the two of you. I went to order the 3.0 software for my ex470 and it is no longer listed on hp site…

  • viperthekiller

    Ben I think your comment is just perfect! Don't understand that decision from both HP and MS. There is definitely a need for a House Server and there will be in future even though people tend to think that cloud is the future. People will come back to the need of having something inhouse that they can manage themselves and offline. As a record HP did abandon many times things they use to sell in the past think about the mediacenters pavilion which completely died even though they were pretty good products!

  • WalkinTarget

    *hugs EX470 with RAM/CPU upgrade*

    Ohhh little MSS, I love youuuu soooo !!! Don't ever leave me !!!

    Great product, I initially blanched at the $600 bill (got it w/ an extra 500gb HD) but it has ended up being a life (and data) saver time after time when one of my many PCs screws up. At one point, I was backing up my limit of 10 PCs to this hardware gem.

  • ravenshin

    It’s another nail in Vail’s coffin. And again I have to point out the timing is suspect- MS announces it’s dropping DEv2 three days before Black Friday, and now HP drops WHS two days after Cyber Monday. Anyone else feel like the meat in a sandwich? *cynically* Onward consumer lemmings!

  • JDomi

    WHS USERS… UNITE!!!

  • Tom

    Vail is dead.

    You want a viable alternative with similar costs and uses 90% of the same hardware, look into unraid.

    Again, not hard to predict this, no de = WHS v2 is DEAD.

  • Chloe

    Im glad Hp have decided on this, Although i own a WHS, MS need to get it in to their heads people wont just bow down to them and accep what ever they make. others will follow and soon MS will need to rethink whatthey are doing look at apple today and where they are in the current market, they actually care about customers and not just about making money.

    as for people who own a WHS and want something to replace it, depending on your needs a Drobo FS will get most of what u need if not better, simple easy to use, incorperates what the WHS had in terms of storage and very reliable.
    your only choise i think now is to look at something like this MS wont work on another operating system, unless its windows 8 which they say will be soon like in 2012. so switch now,

    shame on you MS what are you doing out there where has the flame gone 🙁

  • kimik5

    WHS Vail maybe even bigger hit than WHS v1. It may sound like grotesque in light of recent events but what would you say to " LightPeak WHS " ?

    This is a patent that just got published today on the internet: http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2010/… . It is an optoelectronic smart converter patented by Apple. This is external device, internal and other external devices would be coming. Similar things like this block would kill WHS Vail if they didn't remove DE. The next Home server (Apple, MS, Linux) is going to be based on this technology.

    I start to have a strong suspicion that as bad we feel today about VAIL (DE removal) and HP cancellation, we may soon be reversing our opinion 180%, and maybe prize Microsoft for complete DE removal (both, V1 and V2) ! – and we would be embracing Vail in droves ! It's a long shot, but I reread MS WHS blog announcements and under my theory, it start to make sense. Very good sense (in terms, MS was allowed to say anything yet)

    There are LightPeak technology (from Intel and Apple) announcements coming in January. I spend few years in R&D in JDS Uniphase and have some idea what is possible with optical/electronic technology and remember how we were dreaming to bring that technology from lab to our home computers. Almost 10 years later, it is coming.
    -continue bellow –

  • kimik5

    So, here is my theory "DE on steroids" or "Intel LightPeak WHS":
    When MS in the announcement mentioned OEM RAID solutions, they meant Intel optical controller solutions, optical RAID, not HP RAID , not any current RAID provider (they are completely out of game). It is simple to create Optical RAID (optical RAID 1-mirror) and I would be very surprised if Intel doesn't have it in their electro/optical controller. For WHS purposes, hardrives are to be optically chained. This, defacto is your DE (drive extender) with unlimited number of drives. You can bring as many of drives, you can create not only 1 drive pool (as today on WHS), but many pools. You can assigned drives to be mirrored, stripped, whatever. Your electro-optical communication and such created RAID would beat software DE, software RAID, hardware Raid anytime. There is going to be electro-optical controller in your motherboard and electro-optical smart receiver on each of your hardrive. You can create chains, you can create webs. If I use an analogy, your computer (network WHS server) would become an internet as you know it. The more hardrives you have, the more robust your storage is to be (if some line, in this case hardrive, goes down). You buy a new hardrive, add to assigned pool and assign if it is to be used for double mirroring, triple mirroring,… you got the point. More drives, more safety, more redundancy. higher speed DE on steroids ! Your hardrives (but also your graphical card) could be inside of your computer, outside, next room, garage,…, inside of another computer … doesn't matter.

    It seems, Intel is proposing that your existing hardrives in your computer would be dissattached from SATA, retrofit with their optical smart interface. What you need that it works is regular NTFS (as Microsoft said that the existing NTFS tools work on WHS. Its probably Intel's tools), 64bit Advanced hardrives (seems that WD-Western Digital significantly increased manufacturing of new 64bit hardrives and is almost not manufacturing 32bit HD 2Tb, calls them legacy, hard to get and prize almost 2x then 64bit HD).

    The concept of LightPeak came from Apple, who bring it to Intel. Apple has probably the first take. It's rumoured, that Apple is going to announce (at the Intel announcement or around) their LightPeak new MacBook, that is to be shipped in April. Have look at todays publication of their external LightPeak convertor ( http://www.9to5mac.com/39617/apple-patents-a-ligh… ). It seems – You can plug it to wall and attach LightPeak computer, USB hardrive, USB whatever, ethernet, DVI LightPeak hardrive or LightPeak whatever. Very interesting, small, could be placed anywhere, maybe even to use ethernet over powerline.

    There is extremely tight lipservice about Intel LightPeak. It may be that Intel is still securing patents. I am sure, the huge competitors for them are JDS Uniphase, Nortel, Alcatel, … Who has significantly higher optical knowhow and could derail Intel LightPeak with their patents and solutions. Definitely, only few journalist were allowed to peek in intel's lab : http://www.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/2010/06/30/light-pea

    HP may have figured out, that the hardware for next WHS would be all Intel (maybe even a Flag manufacturer), they would not be able to find to add much value-added for home consumer. Or LightPeak WHS would be too expensive at the beginning in adoption of this technology. Without LightPeak, it didn't make sense for HP continue WHS v2. – without LightPeak and DE, lost proposition – as every user knows. The next computer is defacto CPU, motherboard, RAM and fibre cable sticking out (everything what Intel does). And the boxes with 1, 2, 3, ..600.. hardrives and optics going in. Or this small Apple optical block with output to everything

    So, just have a wait for January.
    I stopped buying anything, especially what is on firesale and I don't urgently need now. I also stopped thinking about my WHS. Whatever comes in January, would probably be priced at premium and not available for some time. Nevertheless, I would have a better idea about direction for my next home network, WHS, or LightPeak interconnected boxes of hardrives and computers. The possibilities are enormous, Let's hope that this technology would not stagnate or even die in patent wars with telcos and also, that it would be affordable. Something tells me that it would.

  • Pavel

    Many of you obviously have no idea what it's all about.
    Nothing other than purchase of Palm and their WebOS is to blame for this situation.

    HP is no more only OEM – now they have an OS which will directly compete with likes of Microsoft. HP made an investment and they want to see returns from it – nothing wrong with that.

    I understand that many of you are bitter over Microsoft's decision on DE but mindless bashing of them for that is simply silly.

  • MortenB

    It is a corporate decision which makes sense …. short term at least. They are streamlining their products, lowering development and support costs and maximising their margins. Why develop two separate products if you can just develop one. HP works on exactly the same principle and so does current highflyer Apple. That is what corporates are all about – the bottom line. Although Google currently seems the only exception, once they face real competition they will get there as well. Look at Oracle and the Sun acquisition and the subsequent slow death of some open source projects. Short sighted corporate leaders think money is the bottom line. Only very few corporate leaders understand that their customers are actually their long term bottom line. You keep loyalty, you keep your business. Yet again a bad move MS. And yes, HP would have known about this for quite some time.

  • TimG

    I've already backed off Vail.. Drobo is nice, but seriously, Synology Diskstation units have much more flexability, iSCSI support, supports microsofts AD if you're still stuck with microsoft, all media functions that WHS, and TRUE raid.. I'm running a DS410 and freaking love this thing. It has NO 10 client access license limiations.. has eSata and usb ports for external drives and printers.. They even have a new beta add-in for doing scheduled backups of the unit to the external USB drive for off-site storage..

    Can even has built in support for up to 30 websites, mySql, and can act as a Camera station for webcams. DS410 supports 12 webcams at once.. Microsoft simply has no vision..

    Sad thing is, I still need a small server to serve up some windows based applications, but it's just a single drive system being backed up to my DS410.. Freaking thing even supports Mac's Time Machine natively. Has a mail server add-in.. the community for add-in creation is very nice. It's all based on Linux.. Mod'able..

    For me, Synology has already replace microsoft as my central WHS.

  • Mr_Grump

    When WHS came along, I thought I finally had a simple, mostly reliable method of backing up my home computers and storing media.

    Guess I'll be switching back to Retrospect Disk-to-Disk. It's a lot more expensive and not as user friendly.

    To bad…..

  • t-bone

    Bad decision by everyone envolved. SAD day indeed….

    Maybe we can get this going: http://www.mediasmartserver.net/forums/viewtopic….

  • Texasbear

    I say screw HP. I have owned a few HP printers and desktops and I would have never bought a HP server. I built mine for a fraction of the cost of just the basic unit. All of the HP printers I have owned (2), were cpu hogs…… Constantly pinging for updates. I am happy with my 400.00 Us home built server with 6 TBs of storage. I am also beta testing Vail on another machine, but I will not move until it is official.

    Texasbear

  • KEEPER

    I have both an EX475 and an EX495 WHS. The EX495 was purchase to be GREEN and have both workstations and server to only be active when backup needed to be performed. What a frickin mistake!! The EX475 being manually powered is so much more GREEN than the EX495 using "Sleep" mode and its issues of not going to Sleep after 24 hours of operations.

    Since upgrading the EX475 memory to 2Gbytes, I am all for going back to my old method of doing manual backups over the weekend on either the EX475 or EX495.

    IMHO, the issue is with MicroShaft and its software and not HP hardware. There is one advantage of using the EX495, I can power up the EX495 from home or the Internet (must configure ones firewall to allow SSH/RDP access to a device behind the firewall that can "Wake Server").

    My issue with HP is that for over 5 months they have blown me off with my "Sleep" issues on my EX495. Not my normal experience with my last 25+ years of using their HP products.

    –Mark

  • john3347

    I have had a feeling that Microsoft was "screwing with a working product" from day one in project Vail. We all know what happens when Microsoft starts screwing with a working product. WHS version 1 is a working product that Joe Average can connect his family computers to and everything work satisfactorily. Vail is a product that is trying to do everything for everybody (impossible to do) and is abandoning Joe Average and leaving him behind in the dust. It would be beneficial if Microsoft would concentrate on maintaining a true Windows HOME Server and perhaps develop a product such as Aurora for the advanced user that Vail was/is designed for and totally drop development of Vail altogether. Too much product line overlap is beneficial neither to producer or user.

  • Jamest13

    Its only the end of WHS is people say so, WHS what a great product, V2 can only be better. Plus there's pleanty of buisnesses supplying WHS. Its a big dissapointment about the drive extender. But we never had it so maybe its too far fetched and can't be done reliably.

    PLEASE DONT GIVE UP ON WHS OR WHS V2. HP will be replaced, Tranquil pc and acer will be supplying just as good as HP . Its up to home users to decide. But there's too much negativity that shouldn't over look WHS V2 still WILL provide a great service

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