Microsoft Home Server beta goes public

It will connect to systems running Windows Vista, XP, Mac OS X and Linux

Microsoft Corp. began handing out the second beta of its Windows Home Server yesterday to testers outside the company, marking the first time users have been able to obtain the consumer storage and backup server software.

Home Server, which Microsoft debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last month, will be the company's first home-specific server software. Windows Home Server is scheduled to ship before the back-to-school selling season starts in July and August, with a release to manufacturing (RTM) deadline set for late June. The software, based primarily on Windows Server 2003 code, will connect to systems running Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux.

Microsoft is taking names for those interested in taking part in the Beta 2 program at the Connect Web site, Microsoft's testing portal.

"Keep in mind that Beta 2 does not really represent the 'consumer experience,'" Joel Sider, a member of the Home Server team, said on the group's blog. "Most consumers will ultimately buy Home Server as an integrated hardware/software solution that's very plug and play, [but] Beta 2 is software only, meaning evaluators will need to know how to install and configure a server operating system."

At CES, the Home Server announcement was matched by Hewlett-Packard Co., which said it would be the first hardware vendor to ship a system with the software. The upcoming HP MediaSmart Server will be powered by a 1.8-GHz, 64-bit Sempron processor from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and will include four hard drive bays and four USB ports for printer or external storage connections in an enclosure about 10 in. high by 5.5 in. wide by 9 in. deep. HP has not yet set a price for the server.

Charlie Kindel, the general manager of Windows Home Server, has posted a list of system requirements for testers on his blog.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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