NewsWindows Home Server 2011 Release Candidate Now Available To...

Windows Home Server 2011 Release Candidate Now Available To Download


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Today Microsoft finally announced the Windows Home Server Code Name Vail is to be called Windows Home Server 2011, and they have also made the Release Candidate available to download.

WHS 2011 Logo

Yes, so after months of speculation about what the final name was going to be, Microsoft have finally told everyone it is called Windows Home Server 2011. To be honest, there is no big surprise here as the other products in the “Colorado” range are all called Windows “something something” 2011 (replace something something with Small Business Server). Frankly the surprise is why Microsoft felt they had to wait a few months after announcing the final name of the other products before announcing WHS 2011.

Earlier this week Microsoft “accidently” tweeted that the RC for Vail had been signed off, then removed it, so everyone knew that it was ready and wanted to know when they could get it – well that day is FINALLY here.

So, lets get into specifics now….

This is the release candidate, so it’s pretty much feature complete – so if you are looking for a feature that you were hoping Microsoft might add at the last minute (such as Media Center) or add back (such as Drive Extender) then unfortunately you are going to be disappointed. At this point, Microsoft tend to only fix “serious” bugs prior to shipping.

Below are the changes to the release candidate from the previous public beta:

With the removal of Drive Extender storage technology, the following changes have been introduced in the server folders and server hard drives areas of server storage.

Server Folders

The following changes have been introduced to the server folders feature area:

· Server folders are now created on regular NTFS drives (volumes) as opposed to Drive Extender volumes.

· Server folders can be created on any server hard drives. Therefore, there are no limitations to the number of folders that can be created.

· Server folders can be added to existing locations on a hard drive. When adding a new server folder, you can choose to either create a new location, or choose an existing location on the hard drive for the server folder.

· Using external USB drives for storing server folders is discouraged because the server folders may become unavailable if the external drive is disconnected.

· Server folders can either be deleted (which will delete the shared folder and the data on the hard drive), or just unshared (which will preserve the data on the hard drive).

· A new Move a Folder wizard enables you to move server folders from one hard drive to another to support scenarios in which the free space on the hard drive becomes too small for storage.

· Server folders cannot be created on hard drives that are not formatted with an NTFS file system.

Server Hard Drives

The following changes have been introduced to the server hard drives feature area:

· The Hard Drives tab on the Dashboard now lists NTFS drives (volumes) instead of the hard disks (spindles) that were listed in earlier releases of the products.

· Previous Versions for Shadow Copies is now enabled at the hard-drive level as opposed to the server-folder level in earlier releases of the products.

· The server monitors for the presence of unformatted internal hard disks and provides the Format a Hard Disk wizard to help format them. It is recommended that you use external hard disks for Server Backup only.

Want To Try It Yourself?

So there you have it. I know that a lot of people are not going to be happy that Microsoft haven’t done more to replace Drive Extender, or add additional functionality.

There is some news about possible Drive Extender replacements in Microsoft’s blog post, however it is too soon to tell what they are and whether they will be accepted by the community, so watch this space!

There is no official word yet when Windows Home Server 2011 will be finalised and RTM’d but I would expect it to be fairly soon as Microsoft previously stated H1 2011!

We will be posting a series of articles on the new features of Windows Home Server 2011, so if there is anything you want covered in greater detail, just let us know!

So why not give Windows Home Server 2011 a try, it’s available now on Microsoft Connect to download.

Download Windows Home Server 2011 from Microsoft Connect

Here is what Microsoft have posted on their blog today about the release:

Today we are pleased to announce the availability of the Release Candidate for Microsoft Windows Home Server 2011 (formerly Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail”). Affordable and easy-to-use, Microsoft Windows Home Server 2011 (WHS) is the ideal solution to help families keep their important digital files and PC’s automatically backed up, organized, and accessible.

The Release Candidate (RC) signifies our last mile efforts for releasing this product to our customers, and prepares our network of software and hardware partners for its release.

This WHS RC is the first public release to include changes in the storage features, so let’s look at some of the changes you can expect. All existing technologies such as server and client backup, health monitoring, remote web access, streaming media, and simplified dashboard management are still included.

A new Move Folder Wizard makes it easy for you to move data from one drive to another. As Hard Drives are added to the Home Server, your health alerts will notify you that a new Hard Drive is available. From here, you can automatically format and configure the new drive for additional storage.

Once configured, you can easily use the Move Folder Wizard to move your data to the new drive as needed.

To see this in action, please watch our Windows Home Server Move Folder Wizard Learning Bite.

Data protection also includes daily Server and PC backup, Previous Versions via Shadow copy which lets you return prior versions of existing files (without needing to restore from backup), and a protection feature for pre-defined folders (such as Recorded TV, Videos, Photos) in case these are accidently deleted.

Thank you for helping us test this product, and please provide any feedback through WHS Connect, or our official Windows Home Server Support forums.

Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.


  1. I like some of the new additions, like Previous Versions and the shared folder Protection, as well as full server backup.

    However, the requirement for RAID to fully protect data is a crushing one for the home market. Plus, there is a huge decrease in flexibility compared to DE.

    I don't foresee v2 getting much uptake. My worry is that this will lead to there being no v3 (which is where a redesigned DE-like storage architecture could appear).

    The audience for this appears to be tech enthusiasts. For others like small businesses, they will be going straight to SBS Essentials.

  2. I couldn’t resist the download of WHS 2011 (curiosity) and it was just as disappointing as predicted. I have already loaded v1 on my new server in place of 2011. There is no reason to upgrade (even if that were possible) as WHS v1 does most things just as well and some (DE of course) so much better. Is there any point in blogging all this as Microsoft have made no reasonable response to all the negative mail. They seem to be completely ignoring the vast majority of feedback supporting the retention of DE as the core to WHS’s survival. So it is stick with WHS v1 or off to Fedora/Amahi for those more ambitious types.
    GOOD LUCK to all version 1 users everywhere.

  3. How Do You Download Whs 2011 cause when i go on the link and sign in the download link don’t aper on the screen and do they do a 32 bit and last more thing can some one send me the download link please i like to hear fron all of you lot

    • WHS 2011 has now been released to manufacture. If you have a Technet or MSDN subscription you can download it from there. If not, then there is no other download option.

      There is also no 32 bit version, its 64 bit only.

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