Microsoft wraps up work on Windows Home Server

The software has been released to manufacturing

Microsoft on Monday released Windows Home Server (WHS) to manufacturing, the final milestone for software that will power several turnkey home servers that OEMs will put on the market in late September and early October.

The move to RTM (release to manufacturing) means that Microsoft has wrapped up WHS and handed it off to its internal distribution teams and hardware partners, said Joel Sider, senior product manager. Those OEM partners grew by two on Monday, as Iomega and Fujitsu-Siemens Computers were added to a list that already included Hewlett-Packard, LaCie and Medion. Details on the Fujitsu-Siemens and Iomega systems were scanty today, but the former will be a 500GB product with gigabit Ethernet, while the latter will contain up to four hot-swappable drives.

"The main change from RC (release candidate) was that the domain for remote access is now homeserver.com," said Sider. "We also did some fine tuning and polishing, and killed off the last few bugs."

For the most part, however, the RC version was solid enough that few changes were necessary -- one of the reasons the team was able to shift the server software so quickly out of development and into distribution.

"The team was very focused," said Sider, responding to a question about how WHS was able to move from public announcement to RTM in just over six months. "But simplicity was also job number one. We wanted to provide a really powerful but not endless feature set. We were being pretty conservative with what we were trying to achieve, something that I think helped us avoid 'feature creep.'"

Sider declined to provide specific release dates for either the system builder version -- standalone software that will allow users to install WHS on older PCs -- or the various hardware products. But he did confirm that an evaluation edition would be available, with the eval timing out after 120 days.

As for existing testers -- more than 100,000 people have downloaded the beta and RC editions -- Microsoft hasn't decided whether it will offer them a discounted system builder. "We're thinking about it," Sider said. "That's been done before by Microsoft."

Citing "early fall, late September and early October" as the likely ship dates for the first wave of WHS hardware -- led by HP's MediaSmart Server -- Sider said that WHS development would continue. "We'll keep moving forward," he said. "There will certainly be future versions of WHS."

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