News, Windows Home Server

Windows Home Server 2011 “Vail” Release Candidate – Connecting PCs & Macs to the Server

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Apple Mac

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.

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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.
  • snowdins

    lol still cant get mac to backup correctly. what crap. what the hell are they thinking. who is running this ship further into the ground?

  • Tralus

    It just seems to me that MS is completely missing the point and just putting a half effort into this product. I mean first they kill the WHOLE REASON for WHS – DE which I don’t like, but I could live with. Moving to RAID has some advantages and some disadvantages.

    Then they just miss “core” functionality in an RC build is beyond me. You would think that people would check things like install screens / connector screens, proper support for Macs. Just seems very half –way to me. It’s almost if Microsoft just Windows ME / Vista’d this product.

  • Fred

    Idiots ! How to lose a few thousand die hard MS supporters in one stupid move…Does the WHS team not have any technical proficient engineers ? Or just retarded Product managers ?

    • Tom

      I think a bit of both.

      • urmaster

        To be fair even if both are idiots only 1 is to blame – managers.

  • Paul

    Every post I read regarding Vail or server 2011 what ever you want to call it, "personally I would call it a pail of dog dirt' makes me wanna cringe and just think to myself, why did Microshit even bother with v2. This actually up sets me.

    Im not a Microshit fan at all, but I had to hold my hands up with WHS v1, this was an amazing peace of software to come from the the fires of hell and blue screens. But true to Microshits true colours, they never take into account there customers. Also I would like to add and im sure some people may disagree but Microshit have never been good with file systems in the first place, so the whole DE makes sence.

  • isi123

    I'm really really annoyed about this release. I rather they not bothered. Atleast my hopes wouldn't have been up. I'm sticking with V1

  • chashutch

    So, no DE and no Time Machine type backups. Maybe I will run Vail as my home server, then run Ubuntu in a VM and set it up as a time machine backup device… oh wait, that defeats the purpose. Might as well go back to linux.

  • glenn

    I have had it with Windows Home Server- due to loss of drive extender. I do not have the time to mess with RAID. Why is Microsoft running this home server product into the ground? Can anyone tell me what new and better features are on the VAIL release?

    • QDOS

      There's support for harddrives > 2TB, that's it more or less… Actually I was thinking about upgrading – built my server last summer – just for support of bigger disks and 4K sectors. Now I'll stick with WHS and invest in 2TB disks…

  • Kemchuk

    Looks like Microsoft is preparing to abandon the Home Server market. maybe they will bring it back for 6 months, then abandon it again… just for giggles.

    Long Live WHS V1

  • Bob

    "it looks like the Release Candidate has taken a step backwards "

    Notice a pattern here?

  • Badjames_no1

    Well, M$ should have left the "Home" out of "Windows Home Server" as I look at this, it is deffently not geared for the home market, but just another business class server downgraded, Which I have to say is what MS wanted in the first place, the Home market is not where they make thier money I am sorry to say, as I do have some experience in thier Home Product, I work there for 5 years supportting thier home products before they shipped it off to India and killed that line of products. I will stay with V1 and am going help set up my son's system for him only with V1.

  • Tom M

    Honestly MS should just announce the product is being discontinued or announce that they are going to rework the product and put DE back in, but will not be relasing a beta for some time while they get it together, going forward with this is just not making sense, especially if core features are not even working. It would be better for them to annouce a late 2011 or 2012 release than to try and push this out in 2011 with the features it looks to have, if they do it might be wise for them to annouce a DE version for V3 otherwise all the V1 users will find something else by then. This will be an interesting watch however, I am just sticking with V1 and will see what happens, I am sticking to my prediction V2 will never be relased.

  • Themis

    I tested all the other betas of WHS, but I won't be testing this one as it lacks the main feature (DE).

    I was hoping MS would reconsider its choice, but finally it seems to promote a "simplified" Windows Server for home use, which, to me, is utter nonsense.

    So long, Vail.

  • Jay

    I've been a big fan and promoter of WHS to anyone who would listen since it released, however, no DE means I can no longer in good conscious recommend the product. I for one, will not be upgrading and will advise against upgrade to those others I know who use it.

  • Mmaestro

    Sounds like this is still beta software. How can they call this a RC? The loss of Drive Extender is huge, and honestly, I'd thought they would at least do something for data duplication (mount a second hard drive, duplicate through some sort of robocopy clone at night, every night? Surely that would be easy) even if it were less robust. But even the installers for the connector software seems unfinished? Have they stopped trying?
    You buy Microsoft products because you expect an honest-to-goodness attempt to make something polished. If Microsoft release this software in this state, their quality management will have gone so far down the toilet that I'm not sure I'd trust their software again. God knows, with the lack of updates for Windows Phone, they've been starting to look like they're a company that's just saying "to hell with it, good enough." Not OK.

  • http://twitter.com/jpantuso @jpantuso

    Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

    What on earth is going on with the WHS team?

    • Aaron

      smoking trees

  • GPKing

    So, space management is cumbersome, diplomatically speaking. Mac support does not work.

    So again remind me Microsoft, why would ANY sane human being even waste the slightest thought about upgrading????

  • GPKing

    So, space management is cumbersome, diplomatically speaking. Mac support does not work.

    So again remind me Microsoft, why would ANY sane human being even waste the slightest thought about upgrading?

  • Brian

    Vail =FAIL

  • Maxoo

    When I installed the connector, I didn't have this error message about restarting the computer. Seems like Microsoft isn't to blame here.

  • Barkinglama

    It's all been said, I too will be sticking to v1, was going to build a new box for vail too, now I'll buy a new laptop instead

  • http://www.drgruner.com Doc G

    So, how is WHS 2011 any better than just adding another Windows 7 machine to my network? Or even just a NAS? It seems that the increased amount of user responsibility is really no different than manually setting up backup drives in Win7. If I go with another Win 7 machine, I would also get Media Center.

    Where's the advantage in owning this product, Microsoft? FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. I am so disappointed because I LOVE my WHS v.1.

    Microsoft, fix this product!! Bring back DE, add Media Center, fix the 2tb partition limit (especially in light of the excuse that DE is gone because hard drives are bigger and cheaper).

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