Update: The beta version of Windows Home Server is no longer available. Microsoft discontinued Windows Home Server after releasing the last version, Windows Home Server 2011, on April 2011. All Home Server products are no longer supported by Microsoft.
The first official public beta release of Microsoft's upcoming Windows Home Server codenamed Vail is now available via Microsoft Connect.
Vail, which leaked about three months ago, is now officially available for users with a valid Windows Live ID. Windows users interested in testing the latest iteration of Windows Home Server can visit the Microsoft Connect website to download the server software to their PCs. Only English language builds are available currently.
Dave Berkowitz, a Microsoft senior communication manager revealed that Vail has been improved in the four key areas "Extending media streaming outside the home or office", "Multi-PC backup and restore", "Simplified setup and user experience" and "Expanded development and customization tools for partners".
Microsoft's goal is to receive as much user feedback as possible about the Windows Home Server release
Berkowitz explained that Windows Home Server has been moved to "a new underlying server platform that will only run as a 64-bit OS" indicating that it is not recommended to run the server "on a 32-bit PC, or existing Windows Home Server systems (even 64-bit Home Server systems) because there may be compatibility issues with some OEM drivers".
He urged users to install the Home Server beta on a secondary computer as they may be experiencing a number of problems otherwise including "the inability to run WHS v1 add-in applications". Berkowitz added that the "installation of the Vail OS on a PC will [..] require users to wipe all data from that PC or device."
Windows Home Server Vail has relatively modest hardware requirements: a 1.4 Ghz 64-bit cpu, 1 Gigabyte of computer memory and at least a 160 Gigabyte hard drive are the minimum requirements to install and use Vail.
A Windows Home Server software development kit is available which can be downloaded from Microsoft Connect as well.
"We’re not ready to discuss delivery dates yet", Berkowitz added
“So after you check out all of the great features in this public beta, you’ll probably want to know when the final version of Vail is going to ship. We’re not ready to discuss delivery dates yet. We want to ship the best possible product, and as that old commercial went (sort of), ‘we will ship no Windows Home Server before it’s time’,” Berkowitz added.
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