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Microsoft Broadens Market for Windows Home Server

Microsoft appears to be broadening the market for its Windows Home Server (WHS) product to the small office/home office (SOHO) space.

WHS was initially marketed as "the world's first stay-at-home server." But now Microsoft has added a SOHO link on its WHS home page that says "Don't be fooled by the name," according to a team blog post on Wednesday.

WHS can handle up to 10 computers and offers functionality, such as image-based backup of Windows-based computers and a new search capability. Other functions are rather consumer-oriented, such as TV archiving and the ability to add shared folders for photos, video and music to the Windows Library.

"People are storing more stuff on their computer nowadays," said Michael Cherry, vice president of research for operating systems at Directions on Microsoft, "so the need to backup all that data is increasingly critical. Microsoft is offering WHS as an easy and reliable product that fills that need."

He noted that both Hewlett-Packard and Acer are marketing server units with WHS on board.

In addition to WHS, Microsoft addresses small businesses with a server package called Windows Small Business Server (SBS). It's designed for small businesses that may need to scale up operations.

"Small businesses may find some of the features of Windows Home Server compelling," a company spokesperson explained in an e-mail. "Additionally, Microsoft offers Windows Small Business Server that scales well beyond 10 users for more sophisticated home-based businesses or small businesses that plan on growing."

If a small business stays small and just needs backup support, WHS may fill the need, according to Cherry.

"The quick answer is that WHS targets homes with up to about 10 users, and primarily addresses backup," Cherry said. "SBS targets small businesses with a turnkey solution for file and print services, and other key business applications."

Last week, Microsoft announced a beta of Power Pack 3 for WHS, which adds Windows 7 libraries integration, Windows Media Center enhancements and better netbook support, according to a team blog post.

Microsoft plans to time the final product release of Power Pack 3 before the Windows 7 general availability date of Oct. 22. In the mean time, users wanting to test the beta can access it at the Microsoft Connect Web portal here.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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