Whiist plans, past and future

A question I’ve been asked fairly often is “will there be a version of Whiist for Vail?”. Before yesterday, my reply has been along the lines of:
Absolutely! Infact there’s going to be two versions :) “Whiist Classic” will essentially be the current version of Whiist, upgraded to Vail and with some usability and feature tweaks. “Whiist XXXXX” (where XXXXX is a designator I haven’t thought of yet) is a different take on the same concept. It still solves the same problem – sharing your home content with the outside world – but is simpler and more elegant. It’s a complete rewrite. There’s no ETA (mostly because Vail has no ETA!), but I have most of the features working in prototype/proof of concept form on IIS7 & .NET 3.5 machines.

After yesterday’s news, this would be my answer today:

No. As it stands today, Vail is not a product I find enticing or can see being useful in my home. I believe that to deliver an excellent product, particularly one developed in your spare time, it must be something you will use on a regular basis. At this point it’s unlikely I would use Vail (if I bought a new WHS box it’d be for the hardware and I’d put WHS V1 on it), so I would not feel comfortable creating an add-in for it.

My personal thoughts:

I feel that saying “Microsoft have dropped drive extender” does not do justice to the magnitude of what’s been removed:

  • No data duplication to ensure against drive failure.
  • No “just plug in a new drive to add extra space”
  • No single-storage area.

These three features are at least 50% of what made the original WHS such a killer product, and so easy to recommend to family and friends. It would be hard to suggest these people invest in a product like Vail that doesn’t offer easy storage expansion, and will likely require a subscription to some cloud backup service to guard against data loss.

What really kills me though is that an amazing foundation for a new product range seems to have basically been sacrificed, with the marketable parts harvested for the Small Business edition. It’s hard to see where the “Home” in Windows Home Server V2 is anymore. Media Center is gone, drive extender is gone, and in return they’ve added….64-bit support? For all those machines with 8GB RAM that OEM’s will never ship?

There’s an old joke that it usually takes Microsoft until version 3.0 of a product to get it right. At the moment, Windows Home Server seems to be going in the opposite direction.

Posted via email from Andrew Live!

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