I see that Paul Thurrott, in an article published on his Supersite for Windows, has done a U-turn and is now betting on Windows Home Server 2011. Back in October 2010, when he was first told by the current WHS team that they would be removing the Drive Extender technology from WHS 2011, his first reaction was that:
“Removing Drive Extender was the equivalent of driving a dagger right through the heart of the product”.
Indeed, that was my first reaction on hearing the news when it became public a month later, and the reaction of many, if not most, of us who had bought the original version of Windows Home Server.
Despite the outcry (for example, there are currently 5,581 votes in favour of retaining the DE technology in WHS 2011 versus 73 against over at the Microsoft Connect site – tagline: your feedback improving Microsoft products), the technology will not be put back into the final WHS 2011 product. (Addendum: on the 12 March 2011, Microsoft removed all the suggestions that had been posted by WHS 2011 beta testers in the connect forum, including this one. An act that reminded me of the Soviet’s airbrushing ex-politicos out of photographs. One way of removing embarrassing facts, I suppose)
So now, Paul Thurrott has put his sense of disappointment behind him, and written that:
So yes, I’m disappointed about Drive Extender, I really am. And yes, I’ve sweated this decision for months. But when the final version of Windows Home Server 2011 appears in the months ahead, I’m switching. And I’ll let you know how it goes, of course. But I can tell you now that Microsoft’s home server solution is still the best game in town, even with the removal of Drive Extender. And if you could stop crying into your beer, I think you’ll admit the same.
Well, perhaps. But what I find most telling about this whole debacle has been the way that it has been (mis)handled by Microsoft. It seems clear, from Thurrott’s own account, that the current WHS team did not have a clue, at least in the beginning, that the decision to remove DE would have such a negative reaction.
In effect, the team had just torn up the guiding principles for the product developed by Charlie Kindel and the original WHS V1 team – but they don’t seem to have appreciated that fact, or the likely reaction from customers who had bought V1 on the strength of those principles.
The team then soldiered on with the decision – and I have to give them credit for their brass necks – and very probably have weathered the storm. But I really could have done without the disingenous posts on their blog telling us that they were only following feedback from their customers:
“When weighing up the future direction of storage in the consumer and SMB market, the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs”.
There are some good things remaining in WHS 2011, but the heart of WHS V1 – its provision of consumer-friendly storage – has been surgically removed.
The die has been cast – we’ll see what happens.