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MSBlog Confirms, Pulls Post Re: Windows Server “Home” and Windows Live Drive

* - Update at the end of the post, clarifying the accuracy of this source - *

Zack Whittaker, Microsoft contract employee, wrote a post at MSBlog regarding rumors and hints being passed around regarding Windows Live Drive and Windows Server “Home”. To catch everyone up: The guide to CES contains this promo:

It reads:

ces-teaser.png

All together now.

Announcing a new way to share, protect, and store what matters most.

January 2007

The speculation goes in two directions, that this is either Windows Live Drive, a free online storage solution designed to unify all user content among the Windows Live services and open up new possibilities with all that free space, including online-document storage; or (sorry about the mouthful), it was about Windows Server Home, an “open secret” version of Windows Server designed for home networks, one designed for sharing media content.

MSBlog wrote a post about the speculation. That blog post has vanished, but former Microsoftie Robert Scoble grabbed it in his link blog, with I subscribe to and republishes all posts, and here it is:

This has got some bloggers and some hopeful’s rather confused. A few people have asked me “what does this mean?” and I’m here to explain. Kip from LiveSide wrote this, Long Zheng from istartedsomething.com wrote this (with some interesting theories), Robert McLaws from Windows-Now wrote this, and good ol’ Josh from Windows Connected wrote this. Unfortunately, rumours on the Internet are just as bad as the rumours about the most popular girl in school making out with someone behind the bikesheds after school… Let’s clear this up shall we?

There is going to be a home server product along the Windows Server System operating systems. Sources have confirmed but refuse to comment further on the product. However Windows Server “Home” is not the final product name, but it certainly gets the message across that it’s for home users. What I have managed to dig around and find out, is that it’ll have certain sharing features. Media will be a big thing, it always has and always will be. I was working with someone in the Microsoft London office in August and we both came up with - porn, gaming and media are the big things on the web. We can’t do porn, we can do gaming (and since Xbox Live rocketed) and now media.

We may be seeing a shared Media Center - we may be seeing integration directly with Windows Live Drive from the operating system. What’s clear is that this new server operating system will most likely look and behave like Windows Vista, but with a few server things thrown in for the novice user (wizards to guide users through server operations) as well as the more advanced things for advanced home users. it’ll have gaming facilities to play online using Xbox 360 consoles, it’ll have the Windows Live Media Center in with it (if both schedules finish on time), and it should have all the features that Windows Vista Home Premium has.

It is not yet clear whether Windows Server “Home” will be announced at the CES 2007 conference or not. We just simply don’t know. It might… but maybe not.

Windows Live Drive will not be released either in beta, public beta or at all at the CES 2007 conference in January 2007 in Las Vegas. It’s simply not ready yet! Since the re-organisation of Live internally (and yes, it’s still going through the teething processes), there’s nothing been happening really with Windows Live Drive for a couple of months now according to sources.

Windows Live Drive, however, will be making an appearance at the CES 2007 conference in January 2007 in Las Vegas. Just because it’s not ready to be released doesn’t mean that Microsoft can’t shower all you techno geeks with a little bit of sunshine It’ll be mentioned, it’ll be talked about, prepare to be killed by numerous PowerPoint shows and you may even be lucky enough to see a demonstration of Windows Live Drive if they’ve managed to put it together in time. It’ll be formely announced, but nothing much more.

Windows Live Drive is scheduled for 2007. No quarters, no halves, just in 2007. There’s a huge backend operation going on - huge server farms being built, huge servers being installed. Windows Live Drive was one of the first Live services, but because it’s so big and complex, the software wasn’t even starting to be written until early this year.

Okay, to sum, up, this is what we call, a huge leak. The post, if it doesn’t come back, Zack has accidentally blown one of the reveals of Bill Gates’ CES keynote, that Windows Live Drive will be revealed, but not released, at CES. He also confirms that Live Drive will ship next year, and that they don’t know when, since the back-end involves so much work.

Zack has also confirmed Windows Server Home, while saying that it may or may not be revealed at CES (probably depending on time of the presentation and how close the product is to shipping). Server Home, or whatever it ends up being called, looks like a huge product, one that will make it possible to have an out-of-the-box centralized server experience in the home.

Home Server will ship with a version of Windows with all the features of Vista, designed to be a “low-cost/low-profile server”, with central storage for media and documents, handling patches, firewall, antivirus, spam filtering, easy to expand hard drive space, TV tuners and video streaming, and take away that home server market from older dummy Linux boxes.

In theory, Microsoft could sell this at a low cost, making it in such a way that it promotes the sale of multiple Vista PCs (and only work with Vista, thus preventing it from being used to power a Linux network). In that case, the box would only need large hard drives, processors capable of transcoding fast but not optimized for applications, no advanced graphics capabilities, and the such.

I want to have a dream Media Center setup, recording TV and enjoying my Windows DVR, but running Media Center on the same PC I do work from is a pain on performance. i would buy a $500 Home Server, as long as I knew my only problem was adding storage and tuner cards. Microsoft could make the home media experience perfect with a cheap Home Server, Vista Premium PCs, Media Center Extenders and the Xbox 360. Picture it, run through the options, and you’ll see it is virtually a dream come true for home entertainment.

Here’s the blog post as caught by Bloglines. I’ll update if he restores it, but it looks like it was pulled since it spilled the beans:

ces-announce-leak.png

UPDATE: As requested by Zack in the comments below, some clarification: Zack is a contract employee, meaning he works with Microsoft, not for Microsoft. He works with Windows Live, and says the post was pulled for inaccuracies, so there could be things in there he was wrong about (and a lot of what he said was based on what was written around the web, not from inside knowledge). Anything not written in the quote above was written by me, and is my opinion, speculation, or analysis, and has nothing to do with him.

Hope that clears things up. I still think he let slip a few things that weren’t supposed to get out, and that we at least now have an interesting thing to look at while anticipating Bill Gates’ keynote at CES.

December 20th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Live, Vista, Media Center, Windows, General | 6 comments



Sync Your iPod With Windows Media Player

Millions (Billions!) of people have iPods, but I know I’m not the only one who can’t stand iTunes. When I had my iPod Shuffle, I hated having to use iTunes, and the second I discovered Winamp’s iTunes plugin, that was the end of my iTunes days (except for firmware updates and testing new iTunes versions). iTunes runs too slow on Windows, a disaster when compared to Winamp or even Windows Media Player, and loaded with features I never use, as well as design decisions that are infuriating.

If you like Windows Media Player (and it remains my favorite media player, with the right balance of advanced features and performance, as well as tweaking and customization), you’ll be glad to hear that there’s a plugin for Windows Media Player that lets it sync to the iPod. You get all the features typical of syncing other MP3 players with WMP, just with a player that actually sells well. The only thing you can’t sync are DRM tracks, but if you’re big into the iTunes Music Store, you probably don’t need this anyway.
(via LifeHacker)

Also, for Zune owners, Gizmodo has a tip for saving battery life on your Zune when you aren’t using it. The idea: instead of hitting the power button to put the device in standby, use a two-button combo to shut it down. Find out how.

December 20th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Windows Media, Zune, Apple, Media Player, Applications, General | 11 comments

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Halo 3 Music On iTunes

Bungie has made available the music used in the E3 Halo 3 trailer (the slow dramatic version of the Halo theme) for purchase at the iTunes music store. The strange thing: While you can buy the song for 99 cents from Apple, you can’t buy it at Microsoft’s Zune store, or at any MS-powered store, even though Microsoft has owned Bungie and the entire Halo property for years. Isn’t that the opposite of what would make sense? Wouldn’t everyone understand (be pissed off, but understand) if the song was a Zune exclusive?

The smart thing to do would have been to release a short version, completely for free, as a thank you to the fans. If Microsoft doesn’t want to give away a full track it can sell later, I completely understand, but a DRM-free short version (45-60 seconds) could be useful in mashups and cell phone ringtones. Shoulda done it.
(via Joystiq)

UPDATE: Added clarification that what makes this ridiculous is that Microsoft owns Bungie and Halo, but doesn’t have the song in its music store. Thanks, Andrew!

December 20th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Halo, Halo 3, Zune, Windows Media, Xbox, Apple, General | 6 comments

Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 Update Released

Microsoft has quietly made available for download an update to Visual Studio 2005 designed to improve compatibility with and take advantage of new technologies in Windows Vista. Called Service Pack 1 Update, the 28.4 megabyte download makes Visual Studio play well with User Account Control, the new networking stack, and the new graphics modes, and handles most backward compatibility issues.

The update installs on Vista for these products:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition
  • Microsoft Visual C# 2005 Express Edition
  • Microsoft Visual J# 2005 Express Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Premier Partner Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Architects
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Testers
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Test Load Agent
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Test Load Controller
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Code Profiler
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team Explorer

Several articles listing previously known issues with Visual Studio/VS2005/VS.NET2003 on Windows Vista are available here.

December 20th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Developers, General | no comments