As you’ll see from our previous walkthrough back in August, we were unable to access the server in the browser using the device name. That remains the case in the Release Candidate, and you’ll need to use the server’s IP address to access the Mac Connector software. Once that’s done, downloading and installing the software is simple.
Once the Connector is installed, you can open up the Launchpad which provides access to Time Machine backup features, Remote Web Access and Shared Folders, but unfortunately, there’s no access to the Dashboard via the Launchpad for Mac users, which is a big missing. You’ll need to use a Remote Desktop Connection to access the server and open up the Dashboard.
Alerts will show in the Mac Launchpad, and can be viewed just like the PC equivalent.
Shared Folder access too is seamless, with the server available in Finder as a shared resource, and once your user name and password are accepted you have free access to the home server’s folders.
However, as with the Preview release, Windows Home Server 2011 still does not appear as a target disk for Time Machine backups. I tried two different WHS 2011 servers, one physical and one VM and neither appeared in the Time Machine settings. The screenshot below shows an existing WHS v1 HP Data Vault configured as a target drive, but there are no WHS 2011 machines to be seen.
As noted in Microsoft’s Windows Home Server Forums this was a known bug in the Preview release, requiring a painful workaround to resolve. Microsoft suggested that this would be resolved for RTM – by the looks of the Release Candidate, a fix remains outstanding. If HP can achieve it with the Data Vault, so can Microsoft. If the Mac experience ships as is, without Time Machine support working seamlessly, Microsoft should have saved the time and expense of attempting to support the platform, as the result is broken, and simply not fit for release.
So, that’s the Client connection experience in Windows Home Server 2011 Release Candidate, and it’s a disappointment given we’ve had six months between releases. Bear in mind, this is a Release Candidate and as such, Microsoft believe it’s ready to ship. On the PC side, the Connector works as intended, but the user interface is incomplete due to regression bugs. On the Mac side, the issues we experienced in the preview build with the home server failing to be recognised by Time Machine remain. Unfortunately, that translates into a distinct lack of polish in this release that makes one question how high the quality bar has been positioned to get Windows Home Server 2011 out the door. Fingers crossed these issues are nailed before RTM.