HP released a statement this morning confirming that the MediaSmart Server 3.0 software update would be available to order in December, at a cost of around $25.

Previously, the company indicated a Fall timescale for delivering the update, but stated that additional testing is required to ensure the upgrade solution is robust. Given the update requires users to perform a Server Recovery on their home server, it’s highly important that the solution is tested thoroughly.

The update, provided in the form of a new Server Recovery DVD, will be compatible with all MediaSmart Server models, with the exception of the LX195. HP also advise that owners of the EX47x series who have not upgraded the memory in their machines will experience sluggish behaviour when using aspects of the 3.0 software. You may remember that last year HP improved existing EX47x warranties to include protection for users performing memory upgrades on their home servers. HP Photo WebShare will also be removed from EX47x machines as it is now obsolete.

If you’ve read our review of the EX495 this week, you’ll have noted that HP’s Server Online Backup is now not included in the 3.0 Software, but is due to be made available as a downloadable add-in. HP’s statement does not mention whether the add-in will be removed as part of the update for EX48x models (my hunch is that it will be as the recovery DVD will re-image the system partition) and I’ve asked HP for clarification. Certainly your backed up data should be safe on Amazon’s servers and can be accessed again as soon as the add-in is made available to download.

In summary, here’s what to expect:

Model What to Expect What’s New?
  • Slow running on machines that have not received a memory upgrade
  • Removal of HP Photo WebShare
  • HP Media Collector
  • HP Video Converter
  • HP Photo Publisher
  • Web Media Streamer
  • Twonky MediaServer Update
  • Server Online Backup (Add-in)
  • Apple Mac Backup
  • Apple Mac Bare Metal Restore
  • Apple Mac WHS Console Access
  • Removal of Server Online Back-up (now a downloadable add-in)
  • Updated HP Media Collector
  • Updated HP Video Converter
  • Updated TwonkyMedia Server
  • Apple Mac Bare Metal Restore
  • Apple Mac WHS Console Access
  • Update will not be made available

For EX47x owners, the 3.0 software is a massive update and I’d encourage you to get a 2Gb memory upgrade for your machine in the coming weeks in preparation for the update. I’d recommend Donavon West’s installation guide as a great resource to support you on the upgrade. Check out our EX495 review for a full run down of what’s included in the new software suite.

The $25 update cost is higher than I thought it would be, although mastering DVDs and mailing them out is never going to be a cheap/free option. I did enquire as to the possibility of ISO downloads, but this is not allowed due to OS licensing restrictions. That said, the new software does bring a lot of new functionality to the MediaSmart Server, so take a look at the new features, and you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth the money.

Here’s the statement in full:

Update on the upcoming software upgrades for MediaSmart Servers

Back in May, we announced a plan to allow current MediaSmart Server customers to upgrade to the most current software version beginning this Fall.  Below are additional details on the plans to deliver these upgrades.

HP recently announced the new EX490/495 MediaSmart Servers.  These Servers provide our latest software capabilities including an enhanced video converter, greater Mac Support including bare metal recovery, and a simplified user interface.  It is this software version (3.0) that will be made available to existing EX470/475/485/487 customers.  Note that these software upgrades are optional and will be available as a new installation DVD as opposed to a software download.

We are currently proceeding down the path of a server recovery solution that will not only upgrade your software to the 3.0 version, but also preserve the data in your shared folders.  This approach is preferable to a factory reset that would otherwise require customers to manually offload and restore all server files that the customer wants to preserve.  However, the server recovery approach requires additional testing cycles to validate the approach and the resulting data integrity.  We expect the upgrade DVDs will be available to order through hp.com beginning in December, 2009.  Note that if testing shows the server recovery solution to be problematic, our plan is to change the upgrade process to a factory reset.

As previously communicated, there will be certain limitations of this software upgrade depending on your product.  For example, customers using the Photo Webshare feature in the EX470/475 products will lose this feature if they choose to upgrade (although we expect existing Webshare album photos will be moved into the Photos shared folder).  In addition, customers who have not upgraded their DRAM in the EX470/475 products will likely experience sluggish behavior or limited functionality running certain aspects of the latest 3.0 software.  Finally, the 3.0 software will not be made available for the LX195 model.

The final cost of the upgrade DVD is pending, but is expected to be in the US$25 range.

We thank everyone for their continued support of the MediaSmart Server family of products.