Windows Home Server Packaging

While I’m still waiting for Microsoft to come up with a fix for the conflict between their software and CA’s anti-virus product, I thought I’d mention another oddity about the Windows Home Server software.

Microsoft are saying that one of the selling points for this product will be the fact that your home computers and your Windows Home Server will be remotely accessible from anywhere on the internet. They’ve gone on record with this. Indeed, when I connect to my Windows Home Server over the internet, once I’ve logged in, this is the welcome screen that I see:

Windows Home Server screenshot 2

See those “Connect remotely to any of the computers in your home” and the “Access any home computer” claims? Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Just one slight problem. It’s not true…

What happens when you click on the “Computers” tab in the welcome screen is that you’ll get a screen rather like this:

Windows Home Server screenshot 3

Look carefully – you’ll see that the computer called Monet has two entries – one when it’s running Windows XP Professional, and one when it’s running Windows Vista Home Premium Edition. And look, the Vista Home Premium Edition entry is marked as “Not Supported”. What’s that all about? Well, let’s click the helpful text just below that reads: Why can’t I connect to some computers? Then this screen will pop up:

Windows Home Server screenshot 4

Er, hello? Microsoft are telling me that the only operating systems that support Remote Access via Windows Home Server are Windows XP Professional, Vista Ultimate, Vista Business or Vista Enterprise?

Let me get this straight, the Windows Home Server product, the one that is supposed to be for ordinary mortals, not geeks, the one that is supposed to give you remote access to any computer in your home, won’t actually do this if you have Windows XP Home, Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium installed on your home computers? You actually have to have XP Professional, Vista Ultimate, Vista Business or, gawd help us, Vista Enterprise installed on your goddam home computers?

I’ve heard some nonsense in my time, but this takes some beating. The whole raison d’etre of Windows Home Server is being torpedoed by a product packaging decision… how stupid is that?

Well, of course most homes will have XP Home, Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium. Only geeks buy XP Professional or Vista Ultimate… What really irritates me is that I had Windows XP Professional at home on all our systems, but wanted to move to Vista Home Premium in an attempt to be less geeky. More fool me, I suppose.

I should just add, taking a deep breath after this rant, that I’m not the only beta-tester of Windows Home Server who has gone “What?” at this packaging decision. I see that this issue is now marked as “Closed(Postponed)” on the feedback site, and it could just be that the final version of Windows Home Server will emerge with Remote Access to all your home computers enabled – just as Microsoft is currently claiming, when you don’t read the fine print, that is. Let’s hope so, otherwise Windows Home Server starts to lose a lot of its attraction for me.

Update, November 2007: Well, the final release still doesn’t support remote access to “any home computer”, despite Microsoft still seeming to imply this (unless you read the fine print). I’m not impressed.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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6 Responses to Windows Home Server Packaging

  1. Andy says:

    I had heard this from a friend but it seemed to ludicrous to be true.  Ah well…

  2. Geoff says:

    Never underestimate the capacity for Marketing to open mouth and insert foot…

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