Microsoft Draws the Windows Home Server Era to a Close

Microsoft today unveiled its plans for a range of new Windows Server 2012 product lines, but there was no room for a dedicated Windows Home Server refresh. Instead, the company’s small server lines have been merged into a single product SKU – the $425 Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Home users wishing to migrate to a Windows Server 2012 product will be required to upgrade to Windows Server 2012 Essentials, as the new entry level Server SKU available to the public.

The move to sunset Windows Home Server was confirmed by Microsoft today, buried in a FAQ datasheet accompanying the Windows Server 2012 Essentials announcement:

Q: Will there be a next version of Windows Home Server?

A: No. Windows Home Server has seen its greatest success in small office/home office (SOHO) environments and among the technology enthusiast community. For this reason, Microsoft is combining the features that were previously only found in Windows Home Server, such as support for DLNA-compliant devices and media streaming, into Windows Server 2012 Essentials and focusing our efforts into making Windows Server 2012 Essentials the ideal first server operating system for both small business and home use—offering an intuitive administration experience, elastic and resilient storage features with Storage Spaces, and robust data protection for the server and client computers.

Q: How long will customers be able to purchase Windows Home Server 2011?
A: Windows Home Server 2011 will remain available as an OEM embedded product until December 31, 2025, and will remain available in all other current channels until December 31, 2013.

The datasheet continues:

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is the latest version of Windows Small Business Server Essentials. It is a cloud enabled first server with an intuitive user interface. It can run on physical servers with up to two processors and has been designed for small businesses with up to 25 users.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials incorporates best-of-breed 64-bit product technologies to deliver a server environment well-suited for the vast majority of small businesses. The product technologies include:

  • Windows Server 2012 operating system
  • Data protection
  • “Anywhere” access
  • Health monitoring
  • Workload flexibility
  • Extensibility
  • Add-ons for many small business solutions, including a connector to Office 365

Customers can use Windows Server 2012 Essentials as a platform to run critical line-of-business applications and other on-premise workloads. It can also provide an integrated management experience when running cloud-based applications and services, such as email, collaboration, online backup, and more.

The removal of Windows Home Server from Microsoft’s Server range is a disappointing, but inevitable move. Launched by Bill Gates with a fanfare in 2007, the original release of the product set out a bold, innovative vision for an easier way to store, share and protect users’ data – hiding the complexity of traditional server administration. Notable features included easy remote access configuration, user account and shared folder management and powerful storage pooling courtesy of Drive Extender,

Initial interest from OEMs was strong, with HP, Acer, Fujitsu and ASUS leading with new, headless, multi-drive form-factors. Developers too jumped on board the platform with over 100 dedicated Windows Home Server add-ins released by 2008.

Adoption was slow, however, despite distribution in major retail stores around the globe. High ticket prices and a proposition that was difficult for front-line sales people to explain held the platform back from mass volume. Although not without its problems in execution, the platform remains much loved by tech enthusiasts. Windows Home Server v1 reaches end of life in January 2013, when support for the platform will be withdrawn.

Windows Home Server 2011 (codenamed “Vail”) initially looked set to give the platform an additional boost with a move to an underlying Windows Server 2008 R2 platform and new media features. However, structural changes at Microsoft led to the company attempting to develop the product simultaneously with two small-business focused SKUs, utilising the same codebase – Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials – a move that significantly stretched resources and diluted focus.

Problems in development led to the resulting release limping out of the blocks, poorly equipped to tackle the ever changing needs of end-users, now armed with smartphones, tablets and clouds. There was little to differentiate Windows Home Server 2011 from its predecessor. Time Machine-style backup and restore, Windows Media Center integration and Live Mesh/Skydrive support were all slated, but failed to materialise. But it was the removal of the platform’s core storage management feature (and mishandled corporate communications around that decision) that quickly alienated the Windows Home Server community. OEM and developer support dissipated, and Microsoft subsequently sold Windows Home Server 2011 at a bargain bin price.

An unfitting end for a brave attempt to move the Windows platform forward.

Windows Home Server 2011 reaches end of life in 2016, but since the product has seen little feature development since release, we would anticipate future development to be focused purely on major bug fixes and security updates.

Going forward, whilst there may no longer be a dedicated Windows Home Server product, much of the platform’s intent has been subsumed into Windows 8 development. On the client side, improvements in backup and restore and new storage pooling functionality via Storage Spaces owe much to Windows Home Server – in spirit, if not in architecture. Windows Server 2012 Essentials is set to retain the easy dashboard management UI we saw in Windows Home Server, and Storage Spaces appears too  – although future migration to that product by Windows Home Server community will  undoubtedly be highly dependent on price point. Windows Home Server 2011 is currently listed at Newegg at $49.99 – a sizeable distance from the $425 Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

Over the coming months, WGS will look closely at both Windows 8 Client and Windows Server 2012 Essentials to help you decide your next step. Our “Building a Windows 8 Home Server” series has just kicked off for those interested in moving to Windows 8, and as Windows Server 2012 Essentials progresses towards release, we’ll give you the lowdown there too. You can expect to see us refresh our Apple OS X Lion Server series too later in the year, with the release of Mountain Lion Server.

In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on today’s announcement and what you’re planning as your next step.


    1. Yup, pretty much. I use Windows for two things only – WHS and MCE with CableCard support; it’s otherwise an all-Mac situation on the desktop, and a mix of iOS, Android and WebOS on the mobile front.

      As usual, Microsoft claims it desperately wants to focus on consumers, but continuously undermines the message by repeatedly botching the upgrades (note: no WHS in 8, no MCE, really, in 8).

    2. I have to agree – I’m down to 2 PC’s in my house out of 5. The only reason I would like to keep it would be for the client backup features however…

    3. If you’ve got the dough, Mac is the way to go. Don’t be a cheapo! Macs have very specific approved HW, that’s why they don’t sell in numbers like the MS stuff. But you get what you pay for!

    4. None of these pro-Mac comments seem logical. What ya’ll are saying is, “Mac doesn’t adapt much to new technology and that’s good because I don’t have to upgrade as much.” On top of that, you’re also saying that (Nash) Macs have no client backup feature; (varun) Macs have no MCE equivalent features; and (rgd) Mac hadware is very expensive. You’re all saying it like those are good things that you really don’t want. Wha?!

  1. Cool.. I was wondering if they were going to release a windows 8 based server solution with storage spaces so I can leave the likes of whs 2011 and drive bender behind! I’ll be getting it anyway 🙂 Any mention of a rough release date?

    1. I think the way to go will be win8 client (as a server) and storage spaces as an article on this site mentioned. Homegroups will make this especially easy for the home users to implement.

  2. No Big Surprise here, I’ve been waiting for this since they started incorporating all of Windows Home Server capabilities into their Small Business Products Line of Operating Systems.

  3. well, I see everyone’s views on whs, some good, some bad, but you still can’t be an OS for $50, frankly, I’m set till Server 2115 is released, MS is on a 3 year elase cycle, last I heard. going to take me that long to save up for an OS that’s gonna cost more than the hardware its running on.

      1. just upgraded from my MSS EX485 this year, needed a faster machine for better support of current programs and requirements, but as far as upgrading later to SBS 2012, well that will all depend on my needs, WHS 2011 with the Media center archive plug in along with my ceton infinitv, serves ups all my media and live TV just fine. Stablebit meets my pooling requirements, I’m kick’n like Van Damn.

      2. patches. Nobody wants a home server connected to the internet that is missing vital security patches — that’s just an invitation for someone to break your server or delete all your stuff.

  4. So… What to do next? Hmm… How about: stay with WHS2011 until it’s EOL (2020) and then consider a replacement (or disconnect the server from the internet and keep as LAN solution…)
    Yet another example of Microsoft abandoning a good idea due to bad execution on their front…

      1. I did, but it was WHS2011 was extremely bad executed. WHSv1 lacked marketing, WHS2011 lacked central features that made WHSSv1 great.
        I switched to WHS2011 due to the 3TB disks, but only after DrivePool was ready…

  5. The functionality isn’t changing, just the name. Currently Storage server 2008 essentials and small business server offer duplicate services.

  6. Well thats sad. I’ve been on the original WHS since it came out. I think this just cemented my idea about moving to OSX Server. I’ve been moving to Macs in the home, and OSX Server appears to do what I need it to do, and I can just buy some DLNA server software and an external USB3 UASP supporting drive cage for external drives.

      1. You’re kidding right? After all the hate that Windows 8 has been getting for Metro and removing the Start button, you seriously don’t think that this could be the last straw for some people? Instead of Windows 8, some people are going to switch to OS X. Instead of Windows Home Server, there are going to be a number of people backing their stuff up via an Apple Time Capsule instead. The only real question is how many people are going to do it.

        1. The answer is 2. You and boggy4062. Mac OS doesn’t have a start button but there’s an app for that, or so I’ve read. No one other than Mac users know of the oddly-named Time Capsule, they’ll use whatever came with their ext. HDD. If you have a Mac right now chances are you were planning to switch way before this WHS sunset and not because of it.

          1. Again, I LOVE my WHS v1. It gives me EXACTLY what everybody should have. I will continue to use it as long as I can.but…. this doesn’t mean that I am going to stay silent on a stupid move my some idiots at MSFT corporate office. I can still continue using my old hardware and old software OS as I start looking for other vendors for NEW purchases. That’s all. MS pissed me of with WHS 2011 by removing the storage redundancy from the OS, so I didn’t upgrade, but waited quietly. This time is over, done, kaput…
            I am not going to sit on my hands and take it like a girl.(no offence to all girls on this board).
            The moment my backup server dies, and I cannot buy a refurbished hardware… I am selling all my MS machines and moving to Apple. Period.
            And I won’t care if it cost me more money. I’ll do in just on principle.

          2. What is the name of Apple’s version of the home server or media center? I forget.

          3. The last time I checked iTunes is not being discontinued? Have I missed anything?

      2. Wrong my friend! My friend already has, and loves it. He used to run few corporate IT shops (major overnite deliver vendor) and was 100% Microsoft (same as me). Now, he has NO MS machines at home. All Apple, with multiple iPads,iPods,iPhones and Apple desktops. I tried to convince him to try WHS and he was listening. Today, I am calling him to tell him to stop. MS is #dead2me.
        I’m switching to iPhone when the new version is released (I use Android today), and when the time for hardware upgrade comes, I will swith Apple to laptop/deskop.
        I’ll be moving from Skype to Google+ too. It is much better. Google+ is the best kept secret yet. Facebook is going to have problems too.

        1. Your friend has serious coin. I’m switching to a Window Phone from the iPhone. The WP shows me more than iPhone at a glance and can talk to PCs better. It’s just friendlier. I have the other Apple wares. Their primary trait is that I need iTunes for them to work with everything else. That doesn’t work for me.

          1. Which is perfectly fine for you, but not for me. Notice, all the hot air about Windows 8 based phone coming our way, and ….. still nothing, ziltch, nada, zero…. in a meantime Apple managed to release iPhone 4, 4s, and from what the media tells us… iPhone 5 is just around the corner. I say, as long as it is “good enough” it will outsell MS promises in the sky(drive) for sure. 🙂 Just saying…. MS is #dead2me !

          2. Well, there was speculation about the iPhone 4 release way back when. Everyone kept asking about it and Jobs even felt pressure to say something about it. Someone even left a prototype and a blogger took photos of it. There was a big stink about it and it was probably a year or less before the official release. The 5 was supposedly due six months after 4 was released. But let’s look at it this way – the only smartphone being hacked (jailbroken) is the iPhone. Because the manufacturer deliberately limits its product and who can write applications for it. Every other software and hardware maker updates their product regularly but Apple knows there are people afraid of continuous progress so they hold them back with “safe” products. But they’re only safe because Apple doesn’t give everyone a way to write limitless programs for it. It’s okay if you’re one of those users. However, badmouthing the competition just tells folks Apple’s products are not up to challenge. We’ve had Windows for how long now? I think it’s proof that it works even if some bad apples, no pun intended, do wrong by its users. PS: None of these OS can’t even anticipate and repair problems within their own systems so none is perfect. None are also any easier to use than the other.

      3. i like the “else” addition as it implies many have already done so, but I am afraid Anthony is right. I have a friend who, upon reading about M$’s most recent stance on the WHS, started asking me more about my system. I replaced my WHSv1 box with an 8-drive hackintosh running Lion about 9 months ago, and I haven’t looked back. Some points to ponder for those thinking about switching:

        – I am using Apple’s built-in software RAID 1 for redundancy. It isn’t as flexible as the drive pool, but is very resource efficient and resilient. Before completely making the switch, I pulled a drive and the mirror reported a failure, but the data was still accessible on the machine. Additionally, I was able to read data from the drive I pulled in a simple SATA>USB dock, with no need for special software. This was one of the features I loved about WHSv1.
        – I miss the Disk Management Add-in. There is nothing really comparable to that in OSX land.
        – Installed software (SMARTreporter 3) that monitors the Apple RAID status and sends email in the event of failure (texts are an option also). I even get a colored dock icon, similar in function to the “WHS Health Status” icon in the console.
        – Another Add-in I used to love was Grid Junction (a management tool for your UPS). There is a preference pane built-in to OSX which worked flawlessly upon plugging in my trusty ole CyberPower, but it doesn’t keep a log of events like Grid Junction did. Consider this one good-not-great.
        – Remote access is now handled by the Splashtop range of products so that I can access my computer from home or on the go with an app. With this setup I traded being able to download files (in WHSv1) for being able to remotely control my desktop (Splashtop), but I think I like the latter more. Back to My Mac lets you access and download the files, but it is limited to computers with your iCloud account. The thing I remotely accessed most with WHSv1 was downloading media locally for viewing wherever I was, but that is a non-issue now because…
        – Media is handled by the excellent Plex server, which streams to my HTPC, my iPhone, the iPad, Roku, and PS3. WHSv1 was sluggish and 32-bit (3.9GB of RAM max), choking on some of the live-transcoding that my new machine flies through (with 16GB of RAM and a 2500K). Playback around the house, and on-the-go is buttery smooth. Also, I can feed Handbrake files for encoding overnight and they will actually be done by the morning.
        – Logitech makes its Squeezebox server for Mac. I used to love the plugin in WHSv1 (despite the bugs and lack of console tab), but I was glad to see they have a similar application for MacOSX.
        – iTunes and iPhoto support. This is still a little weak in OSX (which is lame) in the sense that Apple doesn’t make a client/server version for these two apps. Nevertheless, I have found a way to make it work in our house so that each client opens up the database file residing on the server (just have to make sure one of us is using it at a time). I know iTunes isn’t the best, but it’s what we have, so I want my server to play nicely with it, which WHSv1 didn’t (at least not the OEM OS version that I bought).
        – Recently I’ve gotten into automator to complete some of my common server tasks, which is very easy to use.
        – I download a decent amount of content, and the fact that fewer viruses are written for MacOSX gives me a little peace of mind.
        – Lastly, and I know everyone might hate me for this, but OSX ‘just works.’ Even my hackintosh ‘just works.’ My experience with WHSv1 (or any other Windows product, for that matter) has been buggy. I use Win7Pro on my HTPC and that thing still gives me fits despite multiple bare metal installs. It always crashes at the most inconvenient times, or it will stop playback to check for updates, or it’ll just get laggy over time.

        Anyways, thats just one man’s anecdote on the state of WHS, and the reasons for switching platforms for better performance and future-proofing. Hope somebody finds it useful, I know I like reading others’ comments on the matter.

        1. “Why are you punching yourself?” You made a good case for not switching to Macs. A lot of what you had now has to be outsourced. Yikes!

          1. Outsourced to companies capable of making good products. Integrated is not always better (as we have seen with WHS). Staying modular lets you upgrade components as the market changes. I think OSX has a much brighter future than WHS.

          2. Since WHS has just been discontinued it’s not a stretch to come to that conclusion.

  7. I can’t say that Im surprised at the news, but for Microsoft to suggest that the successor to WHS is Windows Server Essentials 2012 with its price of $425 is a slap in the face with a wet fish.

  8. Question….how what technology will allow us to back up an “image” of a client computer to windows8 client (used as a server) or server 2012?

    1. 2012 essentials has that capability says so in their FAQ, not sure if the standard offers it as well i havent seen it and i have it in my lab so im assuming the essentials is slightly different.

  9. I am not surprised but also disappointed. I currently use a NAS at home and was looking to replace it with a full WHS, depending on what they did with W8. There is no way that I will purchase Server Essentials for $425. I will need to decide whether to purchase WHS 2011 and run it past its EOL, get an OSX server, or just make it work with my NAS.

  10. No surprise – oh well it was nice while it lasted. In fact I just bought a litle HP LX197 this week so I’ll be using WHS “Classic” for sometime to come – as it does the job very effectively for me. There better be support for Win8 clients!

  11. It is truly astounding how badly the home server community
    has been treated by Microsoft. Their latest commercials say don’t be a beta
    user switch to our phones but yet we have all been part of a WHS beta. Due to
    their inability to retail the product to
    the non technical masses and increase sales they decide to pull the plug. Do
    they not know that the user of this product are for the most part the technical
    people who support family members and businesses? Will we not intern support Microsoft? I know I
    have, I have a Win Phone 7 because I bet on them and have endured not having
    many apps and even at times ridicule. Is it that they just don’t care? To
    convert Win 8 to a home server sounds like so
    much trouble why not just continue to release a WHS version. As the non
    technical masses become much more aware they will need private cloud solutions
    and no one in their right mind will pay $450 for just the OS. So a few things
    will happen, Apple will have yet another
    opportunity to gain ground by making a Ihome-server , Many will migrate to a
    Linux Distro, and yet many more will torrent and illegally obtain a server 2012
    license. Everyone says that the cloud is the future but with continued
    restrictions from ISP’s and even further price gouging the private cloud begins to make sense. I
    will have to begin investing time into a Linux Distro to future proof myself.
    Thanks Microsoft and please know that you are killing your supporters off one
    at a time.

  12. Glad I finally left WHS for MacServer last year. It’s been rock solid stable and problem free, plus plays nice with the rest of the devices in my house. We’re switching over the last WinOS devices this summer to macbooks. I can definitively say that WHS lack of support cost Microsoft my PC loyalty.

    1. Macs are expensive. No one spends that kind of money as an empty gesture of dissatisfaction. I think you were already headed in that direction. Microsoft had nothing to do with it.

    2. I’d be interested in learning why you’re still hanging out with us low class MS types, if you’ve switched to MacServer…
      You can definitively say whatever you want, but your move to Mac has absolutely nothing to do with WHS. You could have switched to Server 2008 R2 for less than a tenth of what you’re spending on that Apple stuff. Just be honest about your agenda. Its not like anybody really cares.
      I’m starting to feel like I’m atttending an Apple koolaide tasting festival… 🙂

  13. For those of you who are wondering whether WHS will work with Win8 clients….I’m backing up my Win8 Consumer Preview netbook using my WHS V1 server without any issues. WHS V1 even shows that the netbook is running Win 8 when I look at the connected computers using the WHS Console.

  14. Microsoft demands that customers bail out for the Linux platform, first with the metrosexual Windows 8 and now this. See you Microsoft.

      1. Honestly I probably will. I’ll probably just use the integrated windows 7 backup and dump it to a linux file share, which will also host my media streaming. When WHS2011 goes end of support, I’ll be switching unless Microsoft has a viable solution that is also affordable (I’m not paying $400+ for a home server operating system).

      2. True, we are going to APPLE… eventually. I tell you using iPad is something else. I am NOT going to give ANY of my money as long as I can, if ever. I was waiting for new Microsoft Phone, but this announcement killed it for me. I am going to iPhone, period. At least Apple doesn’t treat people like idiots. There IS a reason that people followed Steve Jobs like a religious cult leader. HE KNEW how to treat the users. The Microsoft regime has no idea at all.

        1. I’m not going to get into an Apple v Microsoft debate. If you’ve already switched operating systems then it wasn’t because of WHS being discontinued. The true reason to stop using a sunsetted system is because you want to use a new app or OS feature. I can’t run anything new on my PowerPC Mac server. But it still works as a web development server. My WHS v1 still runs with no issues. The question is what are you planning on doing with your current WHS box in the future?

          1. My friend, this is not an Apple vs MSFT OS debate. This is a “How do you treat your customer Apple vs MSFT” debate. Tell me, how many times do you have to be screwed by a vendor in order to say: enough already.
            I DO NOT care if new MS phone is a bit better ….today. iPhone, Android phones are certainly GOOD ENOUGH for Microsoft to struggle in the phone area.
            I care more if I want the company that provides me with a service o product to be loyal to me. Phones, computers have been a commodity for a while now. Do YOU care what kind of brand you use to shave every morning? I do no not. Yes, being a creature of habit, I do have some preferences, but piss me off, i will drop you for other brand in no time at all.
            I understand that WHS may have not provided millions of copy sold, but … they did provided the sale of zillions of laptops, desktops, services. You do not make your free evangelists mad as hell, unless you hate yourself a lot.
            If you kill a product that YOU only had, WHAT exactly do you propose to people, so they still remain your customers?

          2. How are you being screwed? The WHS box you have is still operational. It doesn’t stop working in 2013. My WHSv1 box still does its job. Apple also discontinues products and product support too. Everyone who wants to stay in business has to do so. Truth be told once Homegroup and DLNA come into play, the home server was DOA. Every PC can talk and share with every PC. No MCP needed. Do you think they should keep that system when their hardware partners are telling them sales are falling fast? As I put together a headless unit of my own for WHS ‘011, I knew I wasn’t going to buy another home server version because it was basically redundant.
            It’s like you’re angry about getting to play with the coolest toys that few others are making. We’re getting into the chocolate factory and you’re choosing to be Augustus Gloop or Veruca Salt.
            The biggest companies get to make the coolest stuff. Apple limits itself to things that will make them profitable on iTunes. Their product never go further than that service. Apple wouldn’t have even made anything touchscreen if Microsoft not created the original Surface in ’03.
            In 2005, HP made the DEC, a dedicated HTPC. When my DEC died in ’11 I discovered HP no longer supported it. But after reverting to Dr. Banner again I learned that Dell made the ZinoHD. A cheaper HTPC that was better, stronger, faster. (Prettier, quieter, etc.)
            I’m working at making my system with fewer hard and soft components. Simplified and seemless as available. I think you should too. If Apple is your response good luck with that. I guess when the rest of us are space-bound someone has to stay in orbit. At least Apple users will look aesthetically pleasing sitting there.

      3. Let’s face it: every major computer company has to drop systems and programs sooner or later. If you do not, you’re IBM, Xerox, or Kodak. They’ve left the consumer market entirely. Apple stays in play by making a some improvements for their [mostly] captured audience. Microsoft sends out a salvo of products to see what will stick. Everyone in between is a one-trick software pony. WHS was DOA in ’07 because no one could understand it. But techies bought it anyways because it filled a void. This whole “scorned lover” bit is tiresome. A home server is not the answer, never was. A single computer running terminals and mobiles in the house is the answer. Whoever makes that box has the future of the home market. (100 flavors of Linux are never going to get there, ever.)

  15. My WHS classic is still running just fine thanks, why do I need to do anything but carry on Using this that paid for its self a year or so ago :-)…I’m not In the habit of upgrading because a company thinks I should

  16. Wow, so suddenly everybody’s WHS server is going to blow-up. Please, for $49 and Microsoft still supporting it til 2025 its still a great OS. Or buy the Win8 $49 upgrade offer and build yourself a great home server. Any excuse for Mac & Linux fan boys to have a go and get off on threads like this.

  17. Well, I guess we didn’t got served after all then… My next step: an unRAID server. Linux based, so it shoud be stable enough and it also works with a storage pool…

    1. Percy, it is NOT about file sharing. I couldn’t care less about WHS if it wasn’t for the unified client backup option. Same goes for remote access. It was a nice thing to have, but not needed … really. THE ONLY reason of WHS v1 success was the client backup option. For some reason people still don’t get it. They talk about some imaging programs, about Time machine, which are not even close to what WHS gives.
      I’ve been running my little EX475 for ever now. DAILY full backups, that I don’t have to think about. I only thought about them, when I a bitDefender upgdate attacked my OS (and few hundred thousand other PCs as well). I did not swet, just put the recovery disk in my client pc, started recover, and went to have a nice coffee. I lost NOTHING. This happened 4-5 other times. my little HP box runs 24/7/365. I only shut it down, when I go on long vacations, or we had a 8 hour power outage. I added disks, and do a server share backup to an external USB drive from time to time. Love this setup.
      Microsoft folks don’t even realize how gravely they underestimated the fallout from this latest decision. It is NOT going to be pretty for them. Consumers do not like to be treated like idiots.

  18. For anyone intending to stay with WHSv1; keep in mind that it’s last security updates will be delivered in January. From that point on you’ll be using an unpatched Windows box.

    1. Actually, I think that’s a debateable point. While support for WHS V1 ends in January, the question is, will the Win2003 security patches — which will flow to Win2003 servers until July 2015 — still flow to WHS V1? We’ll find out come February, won’t we?

  19. Well this is no real surprise. When you think about it we are a tiny minority of Microsofts customers, and it very apparent that the product (outside of us techies) is a complete failure. I cannot think of one friend/family member who has the knowledge or time to manage WHS. So its with regret that I agree with their descision. The only thing we now have to worry about is the support that will be available to us and what we should do when support finishes.
    I think I will stick with V1 for as long as I can, it supports Windows 8 and Phone 7.5 (thanks to Lights Out) and does everything I need.

  20. I’m still using WHS original on a HP Mediasmart 845. It works well but tends to eat disks and is hard to recover when it fails.
    I plan to upgrade the hardware and firmware in the next 12 months and look forward to your reviews of Windows 8 as a home server and Windows Server 2012 Essentials.
    However, I’d love to also see a comparison of the pros and cons of such a system compared to a modern 4-bay NAS from Drobo, Thecus etc.

    1. From what I’ve heard if my Drobo died there might be little chance of me recovering the data by plugging the drives to another machine… perhaps even another Drobo. My Drobo runs off my WHS ‘011 and simply stores movies. If it goes I have the original DVDs. I keep backups on it but these backups are also on two other machines.

  21. Well bugger. I can’t say I’m shocked, but I’m still disappointed it has come to this.

    I’ll definitely have to pay attention to Terry’s series on Windows 8 to see if that can be a functional replacement. Really all I need is a high performance OS with flexible drive pooling, easy to configure file shares, and an effective client backup/restore mechanism. If Windows 8 can do that then this won’t be so bad.

    Otherwise I’m sure Windows Server 2012 Essentials will provide the storage and the shares, but does that even have client backup functionality similar to WHS?

  22. Vail’s been such an agonizing disappointment that in a way I’m kind of glad it’s dead, but also a little miffed about money wasted. If it wasn’t for WMCE, we’d likely be off Windows/Microsoft OS altogether.

  23. Yes hardly a surprise and maybe better to end the half hearted effort Microsoft gave the platform. For Small business the new 2012 essentials is way cheaper than the current version which is good news. NAS manufacturers like Synology will be happy with the move.The whole affair is a good reminder to go for suppliers who make Home/Small business servers their business. I love that I can update my Synology 108J NAS to the latest software (with only Cloud Station missing).Now if only Synology could provide connected computer image backup controlled from Control Panel I would be happy to say bye bye to WHS.

  24. No surprise. It was inevitable when they killed Vail by dropping drive extender and released WHS 2011. That’s why I never bothered upgrading.

  25. Hmm … I have an HP EX490 and an Acer H340. I have been going back and forth unsure whether to stay with this (upgrade to Vail for the HP and upgrade the CPU) or move to a Synology. We are basically an all Apple home with a couple of Tablet PC’s. I had this bad feeling when they came out with Vail at $50. Staying with WHS no longer makes much sense for us given the lack of development. Stagnating platforms are not fun. So probably off to Synology or a Mac Mini with a Thunderbird Drobo.

    Really disappointing. WHS is really nice.


    1. They aren’t asking $4250.00… we all know they didn’t miss it the other way. Sad fact is, they admit that WHS2011 was horked from the get-go. Reminds a bit of Coke when they screwed the pooch for billions of dollars.. but they did listen

      1. Not sure if this makes you feel any better, $425 looks to be the Retail MSRP, I would expect the actual price to be a hair lower, $399 maybe, then their should be an OEM copy for system builders, fingers crossed, that should provide some relief. And with any luck our good friends over a newegg (US residents) can help ease the pain with a hardware/software bundle, My first copy of WHS 2011 came free with my shell shocker HP microserver, so I can’t complain to much about the price.

        1. I’m not paying even $399. If they can’t release a discounted “upgrade” for WHS users that is $100 or less, I’m afraid I’m going to switch to something else. What makes WHS special is the centralized backup of all my PCs, in addition to the file sharing/streaming. The latter is easy to replicate in any OS. The backup is more difficult to address in a user friendly fashion (although Windows 7 has a pretty good backup tool, it’s not as good as the one in WHS).

  26. Very disappointing. Where do we go from here? Does free NAS offer us an alternative? Not too interested in Mac as I just sold my mini.

  27. Well I guess this means no more development for 3rd party add on’s. Whatever is out there is all we will have to work with. I do love my WHS 2011 servers (I built 2) but I was afraid this would be the case. Windows traditionally does not play nice with other OS’s and there is often a lot of work to be done if you try (much of it beyond my skill level) so I will stick with what I have for now and watch. So what’s next? I can’t justify the cost of a Mac server so maybe Terry could do a piece on building a Hackintosh with Lion or Mountain Lion (I wonder if the next Mac OS will be Cougar and have a pic of a 40-something woman on the cd case). Whs 2011 was a half hearted attempt anyway but I did like that it is pretty easy to get a grip on and use for those less tech savvy such as myself. I have read Ubuntu with Samba works well… Anyone have any info they could share?

  28. I’m thinking EOL for Microsoft by 2015, at least for me. Say No to Windows 8 & Server 2012! Tired of giving them $ every 3 years. Geoff, that would be a “Stinky” Wet Fish.

  29. Well I am in the process of choosing components to build a WHS2011 machine as an upgrade from my current V1 machine which I must admit still does a good job.

    So I will have to consider my choices: forge on anyway knowing there will be no development, use Windows 8 based machine, an alternative.

    I will certainly be doing a lot of reading and watching sites like WGS before making a decision.

    1. What do you need WHS ‘011 for? Don’t spend if v1 does the job. Use to money to get an external HDD big enough to handle a full backup of your server’s contents.

      1. WHS v1 is based on Windows 2003, which ended mainstream support a few years ago. Extended support will be available through 2015. It would make sense to be off it before 2015. Ideally, one would switch to WHS 2011 before they stop selling it retail next year because it’s so cheap hedge ($50).
        If you didn’t get WHS 2011, in 2013 when you want to switch you may be high and dry without a viable alternative. If you do, you’ve still got WHS2011 and can either switch or not switch depending on what you want to do.

  30. Windows Home Server 2011 имел бы успех в продажах, если бы
    выпустили коробочный вариант (BOX), а так как выкинули в продажу только OEM
    версию, то искусственно сама же Microsoft подвела
    данную линейку Windows для домашних пользователей к краху популярности!!!

    Конечный пользователь(покупатель) не имел и не имеет
    возможности приобрести данный продукт, так как BOX варианта
    нет, покупать готовое железо с предустановленной ОС – не вариант и не выход,
    так как многие клиенты имеют старое оборудование, которое могли бы использовать
    как сервер хранения в домашних условиях!!!

    В магазинах Windows Home Server
    2011 в продаже нет, не в виде BOXa,
    не в виде оборудования с предустановленным Windows Home Server-ом.

    Если Windows Home Server
    (v1 или 2011) предназначалась
    для использования в домашней среде, так почему её в продажу в BOX варианте не
    выкинули и не дали возможности конечному пользователю её приобрести?!!!

    Вот поэтому Windows Home Server и не имела успеха,
    так как сама же Microsoft не захотела продавать её пользователям, а не валить на не
    удачные продажи данной Windows!!!

  31. I am dissapointed. For some time already I was trying to spread WHS usage among my friends, but with practically no success. Some weeks ago I purchased Terry’s book on WHS2011 Step-By-Step. Then, just last week I migrated from WHSv1 to WHS2011. Then I bought Lights-Out. And right today I finalised the whole migration, the same day Microsoft announced death of the product. So, this news really broke my heart.
    But, what to say… Have to admit that it is not a surprise. I somehow felt it will happen since giving up from Drive Extender in new version, but I hoped Microsoft will choose the other way. I was wrong. I really love(d?) Microsoft for decades, but giving up from WHS and previously my beloved product Microsoft Money is someting that hurts me.
    My first thoughts: I will (try to) continue to use WHS2011 for some time, maybe 1-2 years, and then most probably go for someting like Synology NAS. We’ll see if someting new pops-up in the meantime. Life’s go on.

    1. WHS sunsetting has no bearing on your network. So it’s discontinued. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it or that it will be useful to you for years to come. There are business still running Windows XP, and some even running DOS on their machines. It works. The latest and greatest is only necessary if you’re trying to do something later and greater. WHS will run forever and ever, or until your hardware dies.

      1. Windows XP and DOS are not directly exposed to the internet however, whereas most WHS installs resolve via DNS, host web portals and terminal service gateways, etc. That is a huge difference. When security patches stop being provided, I’m dropping WHS 2011 like a hot potato.

        1. I don’t connect to my WHS boxes from outside my home network. I use free web storage and other services for that kind of access. Although having copies of what I need on a mobile device or laptop works best. I have a number of legacy machines (no patches) that have not been hit. I imagine it’s like finding a needle in a haystack for hackers seeking bigger prey.

      2. You keep on running that CP/M box. Me? I’m in the middle of migrating my WHS services over to a Synology NAS. It just makes sense.

        1. I almost bought one. A rackmount version with four drives. Here was the single thing that changed my mind. If the Synology’s hardware died – mainboard, PSU, etc., how would I get to my data? Rebuild or replace the unit is the only answer. The hard drives won’t allow any other machine to read the data. I thought maybe my PCLinuxOS netbook might help there. However, since it’s their own brand of RAID the data might still be inaccessible. For other things it’s a useful box but not for my long term data storage or archiving. That WHS of yours is still capable of doing its job.

  32. At £425 for a license I am afraid the Server 2012 is just not going to cover it for a replacement for WHS and I suspect some of the features that make it good in th home will dissapear.
    I have also worked on WSS2008 r2 Ess almost to the stage of demonstrating it to other potential users, luckily finding out just in time that it is unobtainable.
    Yet again Microsoft seems to think it controls the market and knows better than even its own customers what those customers want.
    Guess I might be looking at Lion again.

  33. The two things that are the most important are the backups for all my various PCs, and this still just works with WHS (in my case 2011) and this has got me out of many an “interesting” situation over the years — although it would be good for it to grow up to support >2Tb drives; and the remote access (standard Windows+Server feature, just made easy). The other stuff is just easy to use file sharing and DNLA services. If they could make these features (or even just the backup feature – client/server single instance) available as an add-on for Windows 8, then it would be a no-brainer.

    1. An important aspect of backups, me thinks, is that the files are kept in their original state on the backup medium. Many of these backup features have proprietary formats that make it hard for you to connect to another machine and access your stuff (as in the case of all your computers going dead). At work I have a $40 program that backups 17 PCs to one with really big HDDs. The destination folders are shared so users can access files – no restoration process by IT is necessary. Server OS makers should offer this as an option.

  34. It was a good idea, but like many MS ideas, implemented too early. It was x86 and x86 chips were not sufficiently cheap and low power for home server use. The next Windows Server after 2012 should support ARM and would allow them to create a good home server solution, using aspects of the Win8 development.

  35. Boo-Hoo! It’s unbelievable that people are whining about WHS V1 losing support in six months and that the $50 replacement is all but dead already. Neither product is all that great for for a modern world and neither is even all that useful without add-ons, which are really just well developed hacks under a different name.
    Is $425.00 for Windows Server 2012 Essentials really the issue? Really? People who complain about such things either don’t place much value on their data or are just plain cheap. From my reading of thousands of posts on WHS, It seems that most people who currently use WHS could fill their needs with Windows 7 or demand way more than WHS was ever intended to do.
    Migrating to a different Windows Server platform won’t be fun or cheap, but it does put users into a far more professionally developed and supported OS. That can’t be a bad thing. Those who jump ship to a NAS or Mac Server probably never got the concept behind WHS in the first place. Those who move to the more expensive Windows Server products will find the experience and knowledge they’ve picked up with the WHS products will serve them well.
    Microsoft hasn’t abandoned the WHS community. Its simply dragging it into the future, kicking & screaming.

    1. @ GaPony,
      maybe you have the sysadmin skills, but I don’t.
      I had to restore kids PC on three occasion, and WHS1 does that very well.
      Not sure I can backup & restore easily with WHS2012.


  36. Saw this coming a log time ago and switched to Ubuntu. There is a learning curve but the performance of the software was better (file transfer and access). Also there is a project called Amahi home server which is based on Fedora Core and they are currently working on an Ubuntu version. For offsite backup I use CrashPlan which does have a Linux client.

    1. meh. I have Ubuntu installed somewhere. I say somwhere because I use it so infrequently I don’t always remember which machine runs on it. As an office suite, a home server, a home theater, a game console, a backup device, any version of Linux is an example in working hard for few rewards. Maybe if there was a future virus that goes after the popular kids and skips Ubuntu, then the OS might have a chance.

  37. Come on GHS!

    Google Home Server, someone should tell them they have another niche market that needs their attention…

    1. WOW! I believe that you got something here. I didn’t think of it, somehow. Google or Oracle for that matter. I know how Larry loves to hate Bill Gates and Microsoft. Twitter/Google+ here I come.

  38. No big deal really. WHS ‘011 has done right by me, mostly. WHS v1 killed my 10-year photo collection (boo-hoo). WHS is such a one-dimensional operating system. What home users truly need is a single computer that can handle a family in any room equipped with a terminal or mobile device (Windows Multipoint Server?). I want to flick a Skype session from my tablet to my TV. I want to walk from my home office to my back porch and pick up a Word doc where I just left off. I want to “say” send desktop to kitchen or garage. I want a copy of my backups on multiple external HDDs. I would like it to work with Win8Pro and WinRT. I would like it to have a health monitor accessible from any of my terminals or mobile units. I would like it to verbally respond to me health or feedback messages, “Yes. System is OK.” and “Your desktop is now in the kitchen.” I want those live tiles to appear wherever I need them and read me their status when I ask. WHS was never going to give me that. That’s what we should have in our homes. That’s home “entertainment” times 10.

  39. Do you know what really, really happened to WHS. This time I really really mean it. It was [wait for it]… THE CLOUD! Your mind has been blown, yes? MS guys were enjoying this WHS thing and it was catching on, slowly. But then the cloud happened. And they threw in with SkyDrive. In that gigantic complex of theirs some hottie from the Internet division went to bed with a WHS nerd and the pillow talk went like this, “So if I have storage online accessible from anywhere Wi-Fi is available at low or no cost, why would I buy a box to set up at home?”
    “Huh? Um. I had a fantastic time with you. You’re a pretty girl.”
    “You were just okay. But really… why sell a box when we’re giving online storage away along with Hotmail?”
    “Uh. You mean Outlook? There’s an add-in for that!”
    “I slept with a guy at Apple and he said all their devices will sync up with their iCloud.”
    “You certainly get around. Well, our WHS box makes that poss… well, it’s cool to use.”
    “We’re doing all that thru Live and it works with EVERY device no matter who makes it.”
    “Uh. Okay. I had a nice time sorry about the accident. That’s never happened to me before. Can you call my mom to pick me up? Bye.”
    End scene.

  40. No one is surprised. After the Drive Extender mess, I think everyone knew it was only a matter of time. The saddest part is that WHS works pretty well overall. At least it does for me. I’m still using version 1 with and Acer and a home built. 2011 is on a n40L. I’ll stick with them as long as I can. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
    The ironic thing is that most hardware and software I really like ends up this way.

  41. It’s interesting to see how this announcement has effected the WHS community. there is a lot of frustration over this announcement and it is curious to me to see all of the opinions and viewpoints on the subject. I enjoy using WHS 2011 but it has always felt a bit unpolished and I’m not really sure it was a huge leap forward from the previous version (indeed some would say it took a step back in a few areas). There are things I would have like to have seen developed but I think the biggest tragedy in this announcement is that this will be pretty much be a death sentence for any new add-ons in developement so what we have is most likely all we’ll get. There are ALWAYS options to get things done in many different ways and for the most part Windows has filled the need for me.

    I am going to play with Lion server but more out of curiosity than necessity. I could never bring myself to go with mac for my computing needs – not that I think there is anything wrong with mac, I just really, really, don’t like itunes and there is no other option for macs I believe. I am also bothered by the fact that I can buy the same hardware (for all intents and purposes) macs use, purchase the latest Mac OS for a hundred bucks, and with a patch I can download off the internet I can have a fully functional Hackintosh for the exact same price as if I built a Windows box with the same hardware. The kicker for me is if I BUY an assembled mac from the mac store I will likely pay more than twice the price I would for the same hardware in a Windows machine. Mac cases are not that nice and I see little else that separates them from windows machines (hardware-wise). I just can’t justify the expense of purchasing a Mac box. I am curious to see the changes that will show up with Mountain Lion server (although I don’t see a time when Mac will go out of its way to play well with windows even if there appears to be a void in the server community). Maybe the NEXT gen of server OS from Mac (Cougar??? Have a pic of Steve Job’s Mom on the cd case..??? A joke – no offense intended). I will continue with Vail until its EOL several years from now even though it seems I am always finding new bugs to work out. I will have to do the same with most operating systems I use in a server capacity no matter if they’re windows, mac, linux, or other.

    When I consider a Linux server, there are many options there as well. There is Samba which runs very well on Ubuntu and there is Amahi which I have not yet worked with but a friend seems to like it well enough. The upside is because it is open source there are many, many add-ons for these platforms and you have the combined efforts of an entire community working to beat microsoft and mac at their own games. Also because most Linux is open source, you can’t put any sneaky code in there or someone will cry foul and call you out in a heart beat. This kind of behavior will make you a pariah in the linux community and no bulletin board will post to the ill fated app. The caveat seems to be that there is a learning curve and you had better be pretty good a trouble shooting little glitches. there is a lot of code that goes into making an OS that works with all of the different hardware out there and there is often a significant amount of time spent scouring the internet for bug fixes when trying to get issues ironed out. I will say that once set up, many Linux machines run very smoothly and many programmers have gone a long way to produce apps to try to play nice with windows and macs. A very close friend of mine has been running Mandriva for years and has never crashed nor has he had to do a bare metal install because of degradation. I will also say that this OS is beyond my skill level and I just plain don’t want to lean another OS at this time.

    I have enjoyed playing with WHS 2011 and will continue to do so for as long as I can. For those of you abandoning Windows for Mac or Linux I understand your feelings. My hopes are that you will try new things and post your findings so others can see what you have learned and maybe follow in your footsteps if it suits them. I, for one, love that people will get out there and step outside of their comfort zone for whatever reason and try new things and learn as they go. I have no blind loyalty to Microsoft or anyone else. Whomever has the product that fits my need is who will get my business. I have hardware from AMD and Intel, Nvidia and ATI. If Google or anyone else comes out with a new OS that seems promising I would likely try it and see. I’m thankful I have a choice as a monopoly in any area is no good for anyone (those of you who remember the days before AMD could challenge intel will also remember very small increments of processing power, extravagant prices, and slow development on behalf of Intel. When AMD had a break through and for a time beat intel in every benchmark, Intel stepped up and suddenly prices came down and there were huge leaps in technology on the part of Intel and AMD to the betterment of everyone).

    I see Vail as Microsofts half hearted attempt at the next evolution of home server software and I wish it had been more full featured and complete but in all honesty it is such a niche product that most out there don’t really understand it and thus the sales volume would likely have never been big enough to justify the development. I don’t blame them for bailing out on the home server community – especially because of the poor consumer education as to the need it will fill compared to cloud services and the like, but I am a little saddened as I would have love to see where they could have taken it. That’s my two cents (and then some). Good luck and happy computing to all.

  42. Is Windows Server 2012 Essentials really replacing WHS2011?
    The Windows Server sku list that was just released also listed a Foundations version with a 15 client limit that is “OEM only” and priced below Essentials and given Windows Home Server 2011 is also “OEM only” wouldn’t that be more likely used as a HomeServer replacement then $425 Essentials version though the FAQ kinda contradicts that idea 🙁

  43. Simple answer, buy WS 2012 Essentials. Tech changes, always has & always will. Whinging about it won’t change it.

  44. WHS2011 wasn’t, isin’t perfect, but with work it became pretty good. The EOL isn’t until 2020 so why is everyone talking about it’s immenent death? To quote Month Python “I’m not dead yet” Mine is working fantasticaly and after running around considering alternatives I found myself right back at the start, staying with WHS 2011. Seems like everytime MS comes out with a new shiney everyone goes running to it. How many f you still have an XP, or 98ES, or (shudder) Me disk still sitting on a shelf? I’m still running XP Pro on a box for gaming and I do still have a copy of 95c in a frame above it. So don’t count the program out just yet, newest isn’t always best, ask Vista owners. 🙂

  45. Well, I don’t know the mechanism, but according to the WSE 2012 FAQ PDF I found:

    “Windows Server 2012 Essentials can perform complete system backups
    and bare-metal restores of the server itself as well as the client computers connected to the network.”

    If it can back up the client computers with any kind of efficiency and ease of use, I *might* be inclined to use it.

    I’m also interested in seeing what Terry comes up with in his Win8-as-a-WHS series as well for client backup. For me, the #1 selling point for WHS was being able to just slap in a new drive and CD when there’s a drive failure in a client machine, walk away, and come back later to a ready to go machine.

  46. Hi, I adopted WHS v.1 from an early stage, as it promised much for a household with a lot of data to handle. Our children were in their teens then and had just begun accumulating their own data, so WHS seemed the perfect answer. But, as you install it, it shows itself to be “Windows Business Server 2003” – I don’t remember buying that! But I did. That meant that I could not use many cloud-based backup services because the OS is a server – and the backup services are therefore charged at rates that only businesses can afford. Luckily – iDrive to the rescue… It works perfectly. Then came the fiasco of Drive Extender corrupting data on multiple drives – luckily we did not lose much – and the fix was always just around the corner… wasn’t it? I attached an external backup drive very quickly to minimise the risks. So, things will be much better when we migrate seamlessly over to WHS 2011 – a fully developed, supported and thoroughly tested operating system with the benefit of many years of development behind it. But, what did you say? There’s no migration route from WHS v.1 to 2011? We’ve got to throw everything away and start again? – well, better the devil you know. And now, decision time again. WHS v.1 becomes unsupported shortly after the end of December 2012. WHS 2011 or a NAS? I know which way I’m going. I’ve been bitten too many times. Sorry, folks…

  47. this makes sense as win.8 pro has almost all the needed features to do a similar job only thing missing is a deadicated dyndns address(with online storage) & a more freindly web site editor app bultin like what fpe was with win. 98. & better remoteapp integration. as it is w8 wont be my default triboot option untill they scale back metro or kill off vista/7

  48. only thing that was troubling was that v1 wouldnt work @ all with 1st gen spi routers & version 2 had minimal support for them

  49. i think windows server 2012 beta was shit it cant registrer gameux.dll so gaming is not possible games like just cause 2 and alot of other titles also it cant launch game sleeping dogs like 2011 did play the game without having steam and windows 7 did not 2011 also had hidden command i dont remeber it did add all possible server roles like buisniss edition for 40 dollar

  50. due microsoft removal of network browsing in all workgroup in system vista and network limits in vista and removal of the old start menu i think apple is gaining customers. net view /domain possible

  51. microsoft removal of possible gameux.dll in server 2012 beta made gaming not possible microsoft did also remove network browsing browse all workgroups etc lan also put limits in vista and so on and removing old start menu and users can download vistart7 but you cant drag to start menu i think apple is gaining customers

  52. I know this is late but doesn’t Apple come out with a different product “Every Year” and usually the changes are incremental instead of substantial, yet people don’t say Apple is stealing my money. Also will the HP Proliant N40L run the new 2012 software. My WHS V1 still working after 3 years of service, but it is becoming dated and a refresh “may” be needed.

  53. Im about to set up a backup of 5 win 7 pro and one win 7 home premium at a small business company with tight budget. I find the automaic full disk backup feature of whs 2011 so much better than what you get with some nas + 3rd party backup software or the built in win7 backup. As a backup solution for win7 i imagine whs2011 will work untill the EOL of win 7 (?) What is most important to me is the security updates since i want to be able to conect to it by web even after its EOL. Can i trust it will get security updates untill 2020 as i read? It should get security updates as long as win server 2008 will get them. If im wrong please tell me.

Leave a Reply to PeterA Cancel reply