Windows Home Server “Vail” August Preview–Screenshot Galleries




Windows Home Server Vail now with Mac OS Support

Screen shot 2010-08-14 at 1.21.21 AMWith the exception of having Windows Media Center on the same PC as Windows Home Server, having Mac OS Support has been a top feature request of mine since the announcement of Windows Home Server back in 2007.

Today, this request has been fulfilled. In the August Preview release of Windows Home Server Vail, the Client Connector for Mac OS has been included.

From what I can tell, there is going to be support for backing up a Mac OS client to Windows Home Server by means of Time Machine. (Backup has not yet been implemented in this release.)

Just like its Windows counterpart, there is a Launchpad component that enables users to manage backups, access Remote Web Access and shared folders on the server.

What’s not clear yet is if there will be any method for accessing the Windows Home Server Vail Dashboard on a Mac OS client. Another thing not yet clear is how restores of Mac clients will work. I’m confident that in time we will find out the answers to these questions.

If you are a Windows Home Server Vail beta user and have Mac clients, I highly encourage you to download the August Preview and test the Mac OS Client Connector.

Windows Home Server “Vail” August Preview now available


Today Microsoft has released an updated preview build of Windows Home Server “Vail.”

This build has some very welcome changes and some cool new features. Among these changes and new features are the following:

  • Ability to enable or disable Add-ins at will from within the Dashboard
  • Improvements to the Getting Started tasks
  • New color scheme for the Dashboard, Remote Web Access, and Connect Computer website
  • Client Connector for Mac OS (Yes, you read that right, Mac OS!)
  • Alert Viewer now allows for alerts to be organized based on computer name or severity
  • Server Folders and Hard Drives now includes a summary tab
  • There is now the ability to create a bootable USB flash drive that can be used to restore a client computer
  • Official support for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 Betas

However, there are some issues and changes in this build that need to be mentioned up front.

  • For users of a previous release of Vail, you will have to migrate data off of your test server to another PC or external storage device before reinstallation as Drive Extender has undergone more changes making DE drives from previous releases incompatible with the August preview.
  • There is a QFE available along with this build that addresses an issue where saving files to a Vail server may fail when a large amount of data is present on the server. It is advised that this QFE be installed immediately after installing Vail.
  • Storage Check and Repair is broken in this release, as under certain conditions, there may be data loss.
  • If a hard drive goes missing from the storage pool and you attempt to remove that missing hard drive from the storage pool, the removal wizard may inadvertently remove the wrong files from your server.

For the build number curious amongst us, this is build 7657 and is available from Microsoft Connect today. The CRC and SHA1 hashes for the ISO have been posted below along with steps to check the integrity of the downloaded ISO.

Hashes for today’s release:

Volume label: GR0SHSxFRE_EN_DVD

CRC: 0x7D6C61AD


To run MSCDCRC against an ISO file that you have downloaded follow these steps.

  1. Download MSCDCRC to the same folder that you downloaded the Vail ISO to. (Click here to download MSCDCRC)
  2. Open a Command Prompt window and navigate to the folder from Step 1
  3. Type "MSCDCRC InstallDVD.iso" (without quotes)
  4. The integrity check will take a few moments to complete. After the check is complete compare the CRC and SHA hashes to the hashes posted below
  5. If the hashes match then you have successfully downloaded the ISO

Windows Home Server “Vail” Public Preview – In-Depth – Part 2

Welcome to part two of my in-depth review of the Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” Public Preview.  Today I’ll be diving in to the new Launchpad and the redesigned Dashboard (was Windows Home Server Console).


Windows Home Server “Vail” introduces the Launchpad. This launchpad provides a central location for launching key tasks on a computer connected to Vail. Out of the box the Launchpad provides access to starting and monitoring backups, accessing the Remote Access website, accessing Shared Folders, and the Server Dashboard. I personally don’t see the point in having the Launchpad. With the Launchpad it requires more clicks to monitor backup status, there is already an icon created on the desktop for both the shared folders and the dashboard, and I can create a shortcut to my Remote Access website in Internet Explorer. While the centralization might be nice for some, I think that for people who are using the current version of WHS they will find it to be more annoying than useful.


In keeping in line with Windows Home Server being a consumer friendly product, Microsoft has updated the dashboard for Vail. My first impression of the Dashboard was that this feels a lot like Dashboard for Small Business Server. In some ways it is. The Home and Small Business Server teams are now one team and development is done by the same group that built SBS. However, the UI is far from complete, and I think it will be safe to expect some major changes to the UI between now and the final product. Vail, being that it’s built on Server 2008 R2, leverages Terminal Services RemoteApp to provide access to the Dashboard from a client computer. A new feature of the dashboard that I think will be useful is the Alert Viewer, which provides detailed information about any issues on the network and provides solutions to the issues. What is interesting to note is that there is now a dedicated Add-ins tab. However, it looks like that this tab is currently functioning as a placeholder as there is nothing on the Add-ins tab currently. Being that this is pre-beta code it’s unclear at this time how add-ins will work in Vail and whether or not add-ins written for v1 will be able to easily be ported over to Vail. From a storage standpoint, Microsoft has added some new buttons that provide easy access to checking the health and integrity of the storage pool and shared data. Another new Vail feature, which I will discuss separately, is the ability to create a HomeGroup on Vail. Using Vail as the HomeGroup hub has the ability to provide further integration with Windows 7. There are some welcome changes to the Vail Dashboard, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like with some more polish.

Coming up in Part 3, Remote Access, Media Sharing and Media Center, HomeGroup support, and final conclusions.

Windows Home Server “Vail” Public Preview – In-Depth – Part 1

After playing with the Public Preview of Vail for a few days now (Full Disclosure: Microsoft released it to myself and select others last week) I’m ready to provide an in-depth review of the Public Preview.

To provide some background for those that may be new to Windows Home Server, it is a product that Microsoft released in the Fall of 2007 as a way for consumers to have a central location to protect their data, connect family and friends, organize their precious memories and important data, and would grow with them. This first version of Windows Home Server has proved wildly successful and almost three years later it’s due for a new version. (For more information about the current version of Windows Home Server visit

Enter Vail. Vail is the next major release of Windows Home Server. Vail will be a 64-bit only release based on Windows Server 2008 R2. Microsoft has not said anything about the feature set for Vail yet, so I’m only able to go off of what is in the Public Preview build.

Let’s dive in to Vail.

Server Setup

As the current version of Windows Home Server is designed to be a headless (no keyboard, mouse, or monitor) system, we can also expect that Vail will be the same. Judging by the way that Server Setup is done, it looks like Vail is designed to continue being a headless system. One major change though between WHSv1 and Vail is that instead of installing the Connector software first and then walking through OOBE (Out-Of-Box Experience), setup is performed via a web browser first, and then you will be directed to the Connector software installer. In this build, setup is fairly straight forward. Setup asks for the usual items, server name, password, Windows Update settings, etc. However, one thing that it does not ask which surprises me somewhat is for date and time settings. Mismatched date and time settings between server and client can cause many problems.  According to the release notes provided by Microsoft, this is a known issue and we can expect to see it resolved in a later release. After the server is configured, it reboots and then prompts you to browse to another built-in webpage to download the Connector software.

Connector Installation

Not much as changed between WHSv1 and Vail when it comes to installing the Client Connector. Currently, you navigate to http://servername/connect which then redirects you to the same http://servername:55000/ website that exists in v1. The look of the installer has changed, and I expect it to change up through the Beta release. As a part of the installer it will install .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 if you don’t already have that installed, and it will verify that your system meets the requirements for installation. According to the release notes, Vail supports Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

In Part 2, I’ll discuss the new Launchpad and Dashboard features.

Announcing Windows Server Code Name “Vail”


Today Microsoft has announced the release of a public preview of Windows Server Code Name “Vail.” What is Vail, you may be asking right now. Vail is the successor to Windows Home Server which was released almost three years ago.

Expected in this new release of Vail is DLNA compliance, media streaming over the internet, improved backup and restore functionality, improved storage technologies, and other new features.

Today’s release is of a pre-beta public preview. This build is not intended for use by everyone. I strongly suggest that you ensure that you have a backup of all data that you plan on storing on Vail as there may be unknown issues with Drive Extender in this release.

As expected, Vail is a 64-bit only release, requires 1GB of RAM or more, and minimum 160GB hard drive for installation. If you are interested in trying out today’s release, visit the Microsoft Connect website for details on how to download the build. If you are having issues with the build or want to discuss this release, head on over to the Vail Beta forums. (I’ll be there to help answer questions as best I can.)

Microsoft has also published a Getting Started guide for Vail, which I have mirrored and you can download by clicking here (Right-click to download as some browsers interpret the .DOCX file as a ZIP file).

For those that may be wondering, the build number of today’s release is 7495 and I’ve posted both the CRC and SHA hashes below for the ISO.

To check the CRC of the downloaded ISO, follow these instructions.

To run MSCDCRC against an ISO file that you have downloaded follow these steps.

  1. Download MSCDCRC to the same folder that you downloaded the Vail ISO to (Click here to download MSCDCRC)
  2. Open a Command Prompt window and navigate to the folder from Step 1
  3. Type "MSCDCRC InstallDVD.iso" (without quotes)
  4. The integrity check will take a few moments to complete. After the check is complete compare the CRC and SHA hashes to the hashes posted below
  5. If the hashes match then you have successfully downloaded the ISO

Volume label : GB1SHSxFRE_EN_DVD
CRC             : 0xA7798933
SHA1            : 0xB10EBB38B9A758D67DC70CC3F815A2F65390A570