Now that Microsoft has released the Windows Home Server product, I went ahead and bought the OEM version to install on the computer that I use as a server in our home network. Overall, I’m fairly pleased with it, it does (mostly) what it says on the tin with a minimum of fuss. However, there’s one thing that continues to irk me: Microsoft’s marketing claims do not tell the whole story, they are being economical with the truth.
Microsoft claims that you can remote access “any home computer” using the product. For example, see this screenshot of the welcome page when I remotely log into my home server:
Even on Microsoft’s product pages, their FAQ says that: “Windows Home Server … also allows you to connect remotely and use your home computers as if you were sitting in front of them”. See:
Unfortunately, when Microsoft says “any home computer”, they don’t actually mean “any”. What they mean is their top-end operating systems: Windows XP Professional, Vista Business or Vista Ultimate. Those of us with Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium cannot remotely access their home PCs running those operating systems:
I really find this ridiculous. I’ve blogged about this before – I came across it while I was beta-testing the product. I had hoped that Microsoft would have remedied this with the final release of the product. But no, so I can reprise my rant:
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 notice that none of the glowing reviews of Windows Home Server that I’ve seen (with the honourable exception of Paul Thurrott) has actually picked up on this shortcoming. Clearly, they’re all a bunch of geeks running Vista Ultimate, so this product hole goes straight over their heads. The rest of us mere mortals just fall straight into it.