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Microsoft Readies 'Power Pack' Updates For Home Server

Kevin McLaughlin

Microsoft calls the collection of updates Windows Home Server Power Pack 1, and plans to release it the first half of 2008 through Windows Update.

Power Pack 1 gives users more control over Windows Home Server's remote access features, includes support for Vista x64 editions, and allows data on the server to be backed up to external storage devices, according to Todd Headrick, marketing director for Windows Home Server.

Microsoft in November released an update for Windows Home Server that allowed users to download a trusted SSL certificate to simplify the setup of remote access for personalized domains at homeserver.com, and also minimize security warnings.

Chris Rue, CEO of Black Warrior Technology, a Northport, Ala.-based solution provider, says many of his clients have been pleasantly surprised with Home Server's remote access features, particularly those that aren't familiar with Microsoft's Small Business Server.

"People generally don't expect that level of remote access, so it's good to see this kind of feature extension so soon after the release of the product," said Rue.

Power Pack 1 is designed to help Microsoft maintain its momentum as it tries to carve a niche for Windows Home Server in the hearts and minds of consumers, many of whom don't yet see the value of having a server in the home. "Most people think servers are costly and complex, so the big challenge for us is to demonstrate the benefits of a home server," said Headrick.

One of the most important aspects of Home Server is that it continually backs up data without any user interaction, unlike conventional storage solutions that require users to manually initiate backups, said Headrick.

"No one cares much if they lose a Word document, but if you lose the photos of your daughter's first steps, that's a different story," Headrick said. "People are starting to have 'backup guilt' -- they know they should be doing it, but they don't know how to do it."

While market interest in Windows Home Server has been strong, the product only recently reached store shelves, and a data corruption vulnerability that surfaced last month could put a damper on sales. However, Headrick says Microsoft is working on a fix and will release it after testing has been completed.

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