Almost three months after an early Build of Microsoft’s next-generation home server operating system was leaked in the wild, the company released the first official development milestone for testing. Windows Home Server codename Vail public Beta is now available for download from Microsoft Connect. At the time of this article, Microsoft Connect was experiencing problems and, as such, signing in and accessing the Windows Home Server codename Vail Beta bits was not possible. However, the first public testing release of WHS is live on Connect, which allows interested testers with a valid Windows Live ID to grab the bits and start test-driving.
“So what’s new and exciting in this next version? Although we’re still in the midst of development work (and things may change), we can say that Vail includes feature improvements in four key areas: extending media streaming outside the home or office; multi-PC backup and restore; simplified setup and user experience; expanded development and customization tools for partners,” Dave Berkowitz, senior communications manager, revealed.
Microsoft has even provided a video, embedded at the bottom of this article, demonstrating the new features introduced in codename Vail. Berkowitz underlined that, with the upcoming version of Windows Home Server, the OS was being transitioned to a new underlying server platform. Essentially, codename Vail is designed exclusively as a 64-bit OS. In this context, early adopters should deploy the bits only on x64 CPUs, and not on 32-bit PCs. However, at the same time, Microsoft is telling testers not to deploy the Beta on old 64-bit Windows Home Server systems if they don’t want to run into incompatibility issues.
“Since it is still in ‘beta,’ please install the Vail code on a secondary computer as opposed to existing Windows Home Server v1 OEM systems (not even 64-bit systems) If you do install the beta on an existing system, you may experience a number of problems, including the inability to run WHS v1 add-in applications (even those provided by OEMs). Installing on a secondary machine will help ensure the best possible user experience, and we would like your feedback on what this scenario is like. Installation of the Vail OS on a PC will also require users to wipe all data from that PC or device,” Berkowitz added.
Users that have a computer with at least a 1.4 GHz x64 CPU, 1 GB of RAM, and a 160 GB hard drive to spare are encouraged to download the Beta and start testing. For developers, Microsoft has even provided an SDK, allowing them to build on top of the home server OS.
“So after you check out all of the great features in this public beta, you’ll probably want to know when the final version of Vail is going to ship. We’re not ready to discuss delivery dates yet. We want to ship the best possible product, and as that old commercial went (sort of), ‘we will ship no Windows Home Server before it’s time’,” Berkowitz added.