Was Drive Extender’s removal from WHS 2011 ever THAT big of a deal?
That is a question I’ve been asking myself since the day this whole fiasco started!
When Microsoft announced that they were removing a feature called “Drive Extender” from its upcoming Windows Home Server release, I honestly was pretty surprised by the amazing backlash of public discontent. I mean, it was staggering! The majority of comments for posts I saw on many of the bigger technology sites were for the most part saying “I am quitting on WHS because of this!” and “Drive Extender is the only thing that made Windows Home Server any good!”. Seriously, a lot of people were talking that way and I really couldn’t understand why it became such a big issue.
Just in case you are just getting into this marvelous world of the “Connected Home” and are exploring your options for the best media servers out there, you certainly must be weighing in on Windows Home Server 2011 as one of your options. To bring you up to speed, the first version of WHS server had a feature integrated into the Windows Server 2003 based OS called Drive Extender which basically allowed users to easily add hard drives to their home server (no matter what size) by just plugging the drives in and then adding the drive to which ever storage pool you desire. Simple as that, and that’s what people really liked about it. But was that really the ONLY feature people liked about Windows Home Server? That is where my bewilderment of everyone’s reaction really began to grow.
I do not think any bafflement over the reaction was because of my lengthy IT Systems Engineering career as I really tried to remain objective throughout the process and look at it through the eyes of the general public. Could my Mom add a hard drive to a WHS? Um…No! LOL, gotta love her though. But the average person out there can muddle through installing a hard drive into a server just as they would a PC, not much of a difference to be honest! I think perhaps Microsoft using the word “Server” in the name probably hurt them in the beginning. A word like “Server” is enough to scare many an average consumer away from even considering it because it just “sounds” complex. Microsoft could have done a bit better on the marketing research there! But trust me, if you can add a hard drive into a PC, you can do the same in Windows Home Server, no matter what version. But I digress…
Options & Innovation
No, I felt convinced that just this one feature being removed from the Operating System was not going to be the demise of Windows Home Server and that Microsoft surely had some type of plans in store and realized how important the Home Tech industry is as I stated in a post shortly after the Drive Extender announcement. From what I saw at CES, neither the Connected Home, nor Microsoft’s obvious interest in it has suffered from any loss in public awareness! In fact, considering Microsoft’s display floor layout was a “Connected Living Loom”, I’d say they are well vested in seeing this industry become very successful…and full of Microsoft products!
Drive Extender’s demise seemed like the perfect opportunity for 3rd Party companies to fill the voids and come up with different drive extender options. Whether Microsoft did this purposefully or not is besides the point, they opened it up for companies to create competing products thus spurning innovation. Everyone knows how I love innovation if you have read any of my Google TV articles.
One such company, Drive Bender, is mentioned over on Home Server Land and will be released tomorrow (February 21st, 2011) in fact!
Drive Bender takes single point storage to the next level. Inspired by Microsoft’s “Windows Home Server” Drive Extender technology, Drive Bender is a product that provides the same level of functionality, and more, for all versions of the Microsoft Windows**.
I’m looking forward to checking that out for sure, but are there other options? You know it! You can find another Windows Drive Extender replacement in StableBit’s DrivePool which our friends at Home Server Show covered recently.
WHS: Dead or Alive?
I believe that those who sat back and waited to see what would happen after Drive Extender’s removal before completely discounting or even abandoning the Windows Home Server platform altogether were ultimately right. Drive Extender’s removal never meant the demise of Windows Home Server 2011 as so many were so quick to predict! It’s the same trend we are seeing everywhere in the media and we have to change it! Look for the positives beyond any negative! They usually outweigh the negatives as in WHS’s case. Windows Home Server 2011 has much more to offer than Drive Extender alone (as did WHS v1), and now that it is based on Windows Server 2008 infrastructure, you can bed that the I/O interface is going to be pretty solid. Perhaps you do end up having to take one extra step when adding a hard drive, is that really reason to abandon a platform?
I think not…and I thought not then.
Considering that you can download the Release Candidate of WHS 2011 now and install it without any additional hardware using VMware Server, you can all go play with it to your hearts content. If you do end up finding that you like it, you may very well find yourself using Windows Home Server 2011 as the centerpiece of the Connected Home!
Want it? Find step-by-step instructions here in our “How-To” section.
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