Earlier this year, Microsoft announced its upcoming Windows Home Server product; a sort of beefed up NAS based on Windows Server 2003 SP2. A few days ago, Microsoft released the first release candidate for Windows Home Server, and since I was admitted into the beta program, I downloaded this release and transformed my trusty desktop x86 into a Home Server.
Windows Home Server allows you to turn an 'old' computer into a central server for in the home. This server can then be used to store data, to make backups of all your machines, to share printers, while also allowing you to remotely access the server, as well as the machines that connect to it, via the internet, from anywhere in the world. WHS will be sold as an OEM release for hobbyists, but most people will buy Home Server as a complete hardware/software package.
Windows Home Server requires, at least, a 1Ghz processor and 512MB of RAM. However, my machine only has 448MB of RAM, and it still works fine and fast. I run WHS on an AMD Athlon XP 1600+ (1400Mhz) processor. The rest of your hardware requirements are fairly irrelevant, since the WHS machine is designed to run as a headless server (so no keyboard, mouse, and monitor); for instance, even though my machine has a GeForce 6200 with 128MB of RAM, I use the standard VGA driver. Only during the installation process do you need a keyboard/mouse/monitor. If you plan on using external hard drives, Microsoft advises against using USB 1.1, because "the older USB standard is significantly slower and less reliable for storage, and it is not supported on Windows Home Server."
Microsoft, Windows Home Server, RC1, Reviews