Windows Home Server has been developed primarily to serve several key functions on your home network. Its primary roles are to provide reliable and consistent backups for your home computers, and to provide universal access to your data both from within your home network, and when you are away from home. While this may seem like a pretty short list, getting these features right and making them easy enough for all home users was a major challenge.
In the future, Microsoft may decide to add features to Windows Home Server to fill in the gaps that some customers perceive, but until then they have done something even better. Microsoft is working to develop a healthy third-party software ecosystem around Windows Home Server.
Because it is based on Windows Server 2003, Windows Home Server is able to run software that is built in just the same manner as traditional Windows applications. Commercial software companies, hobbyist developers, and other third parties can use the tools they already know in order to expand the functionality of Windows Home Server.
Ø The Sky Is the Limit
Microsoft released the SDK that allows programmers to build solutions that interact with the core elements of the Windows Home Server software, to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), partners, and hobbyist developers during the public beta testing period for version one of Windows Home Server. Currently there is not a great number of add-ins available, but there has been a good deal of speculation about the types of solutions that could be integrated with Windows Home Server.
Ø BACKING ON THE CORE FUNCTIONALITIES
Microsoft has accepted the choice of improving further some of the core functionalities including backup features of WHS, and building upon that base to produce ultimate customer satisfaction.
Ø Media Hub Enhancements
Windows Home Server already has many features that make it an ideal hub for all of your digital media. Several companies (such as SageTV and Electric Pocket) are looking at taking this functionality further by integrating Windows Home Server with additional content sources, such as TV tuners and Digital Video Recorder (DVR) software.
In addition to bringing more content in, other solutions will allow you to push content out, sharing pictures and videos through services such as Flickr, YouTube, or even allowing you to stream content from your home network to remote computers and mobile devices.
Ø Security and Home Automation
The idea of using your Windows Home Server as part of a Smart Home has been talked about since the public announcement of the product back in January 2007. Windows Home Server provides a secure website interface, and when tied to computer integrated automation and security technology, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
Ø Personal Publishing
The last big thing that Windows Home Server can enable is the sharing of our digital lives with others. Many folks have extended families that span the country, and keeping everyone up to date can be tough.
As part of Windows Home Server’s Remote Access features, the server includes a full-scale web server. This web server is the same technology that runs sites like Microsoft.com, so it is more than capable of running your Windows Home Server remote access as well as any other personal publishing tasks that you have. You can put together a website such as a Web log (blog), a photo sharing site, or pretty much anything else, and run it in addition to the Remote Access website that is included with Windows Home Server.
Ø Data Security and Information Sharing
While Windows Home Server’s base functionality goes a long way toward protecting your data, there are still scenarios where it will still fall short. If your server is stolen or severely damaged, you may not be able to recover your data.
Many vendors, including KeepVault and JungleDisk, are looking at integrating their online storage and backup services with Windows Home Server. This will provide an extra layer of protection for a user’s data, and many services will also let you access your files remotely and optionally share certain files with others.
Thus you can now enable your Windows Home Server to handle more than backups and data access by installing add-ins, thus having a better understanding of how you can make your Windows Home Server into an integral part of your home network, not just serving its core functions, but as an expandable platform that is able to fit into a variety of roles including home automation and security, personal publishing, and an advanced media hub.