At the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week (see my special report), Microsoft previewed its long-awaited Windows Home Server (WHS) product, a Windows Server 2003 R2-based server for consumers that dispenses with the complexities of most Windows Server versions and provides the core storage, sharing, and remote access functionality that digital media and home networking enthusiasts require. It's an innovative and exciting product, and I'm happy to finally be able to discuss it. Chances are, if you read this site regularly, you're going to want Windows Home Server.
Codenamed "Q" (and previously codenamed "Quattro"), Windows Home Server is designed to be almost diabolically simple, and after two and a half years of active development, Microsoft feels like it's arrived at an interface that is simple enough "even for mom" while being powerful enough for even the most jaded power user. The only downside to WHS, from what I can tell, is that there won't be a public beta. Instead, Microsoft will open up the product to an outside private beta test in late February and then ship it in late 2007. But if you can bear the wait, take heart: WHS will be available via both standalone software and pre-made servers. In short, it's all good news. Let's take a look.
Understanding the needs of the market: When you think about the market for a home server-type product, you obviously need to consider how many people there are out there who would want and could take advantage of such a product. According to Microsoft, the market for WHS is quite big: There are over 40 million people worldwide that have broadband access and 2 or more PCs at home. They've got important data stored on those PCs, including digital memories (photos and videos), work and personal documents, financial data, and more.