Windows Home Server for Hobbyist Developers


A couple of weeks ago at CES, Charlie Kindel and team launched the newest version of Windows, Windows Home Server (WHS), a product aimed at making it easy for anyone, including mom, to setup an automated way to backup her PCs and to share pictures, movies and more. If you haven’t heard of Windows Home Server, go check out the Channel9 video where Rory interviews Charlie Kindel or read Paul Thurott’s Windows Home Server Preview, which has the following final thoughts:

“I’m excited about Windows Home Server in a way that I haven’t been about technology since the first time I laid eyes on Windows Media Center (“Freestyle”), back in early 2002. Enthusiasts are going to eat this thing up, and once more typical consumers catch on, I suspect Windows Home Server is going to find a huge market indeed.”

In the video, you probably heard Charlie mention the WHS team has two types of customers (personas), the first being the wholly non-technical person, my mom if you will, the second one being “Sam” who is a hobbyist/enthusiast developer and is smart enough to know about technical features in Windows like remote desktop, firewalls, etc. “Sam” is, in essence, the Express customer as well so our non-pro team (specifically Doug Handler), has been working with the WHS team on enabling hobbyist developers to take advantage of WHS. That’s right, the Hobbyist Renaissance continues with a new operating system hobbyists can take to the next level.


Windows Home Server is a platform:

  • Built using the same technologies found in Windows Server 2003 SP2

  • Includes IIS 6.0 with Service Pack 1

  • Includes the .NET Framework 2.0

  • Includes Windows Media Connect

  • Can host/run almost any custom Windows Service

  • Extensible Management Interface for remote Management

Since it is a server, this means you can setup your own Web site “” using services like Dynamic DNS, and host

Windows Home Server Management Add-ins
We’re also working with the WHS team to create Visual Studio Express Project Templates to create add-ins/snap-ins to the Home Server management interface for your own custom application, like a Home Automation management tool to be able to control your lights from anywhere.

Windows Home Server Beta 2
Per Charlie, here is what we can say about the plans for the WHS beta: “The dev team is wrapping up its Beta 2 milestone now. They should be done within the next month or so. The Beta will extend beyond Microsoft employees, but details are murky on how broadly it will be available.”

Hobbyist Developer Samples 
You can certainly expect us to add samples to Coding4Fun on using Home Server, but what would you be interested in? 

  • Home Automation

  • Web Cams

  • Web sites

  • Stereo controller

  • Telephony using TAPI

Finally, congratulations to the Windows Home Server team for a great launch! I can’t wait to set this up at home 🙂

Comments (19)

  1. ben2004uk says:

    I can’t wait for this, something I have been waiting for, for ages.

    Home automation would be cool, but I would like to see more websites/home hosting service.

    My first use is going to be as a project server and source control for my personal projects 🙂  Team Foundation would be great to have on top of this.

    But, isn’t Live going to be providing the DynDNS service as part of the package?

  2. Can this run WSS3/MOSS?  

    If so, would it make sense to use this as a developer platform for the above, rather than Win2K3, e.g. on laptops?

  3. ben2004uk says:

    I heard (on the channel 9 video) that anything which runs on 2003, runs on this as its the same code base.

    Not sure if its a good developer platform over 2003, as why would you want too?  But i’m really looking forward to (as a developer) having a server in the house to run MOSS/TF/Trac together with my data.

    But, what happens if the OS dies as has been known.  Do you lose all of your data?

  4. The big pain for Windows 2003 Server is the price, at least for a full retail version, which I’m sure you all paid full price and that you’re not using your MSDN Subscription version of Windows Server on a production machine, right? right? 🙂

    Sharepoint is a bit overkill and I’ve personally never been a fan of 2003. If you want to run Sharepoint, why not use Office Live instead?

    For me, it’s the custom apps and access to all of my home data that make me salivate.

    To Ben2004UK’s point about data reliability, WHS key features are reliability/data backup  as described at

  5. Kris says:

    TAPI for me please! I feel TAPI has taken a back seat (the COM model didn’t help much) and I would like to see a couple of nice TAPI samples.

  6. danielfe wrote: "Sharepoint is a bit overkill and I’ve personally never been a fan of 2003. If you want to run Sharepoint, why not use Office Live instead?"

    I was merely looking for an alternative to Windows 2003 (either native or in a vpc) for sharepoint development…

  7. Romukas says:

    I would be interested in all except TAPI samples

  8. Romukas says:

    It looks like that Virtual Server should run on HS, or?

  9. Mark Garner says:

    I think it would be great to have a family calendar application.  From any computer in the house you could view and update it.  Maybe someday someone will write/make an appliance that is just a touch screen that will let you interface with it.  It could be built into the fridge or on the wall by the phone where the calendar is right now.

  10. Steve says:

    Fax Server – my wife works from home and as a HR recruiter, she is deluged with penny stock faxes and other blast faxes – I know we can receive faxes with the built-in fax software – but it would be nice to have a server handle this….  (p.s., just try to find a fax-to-email program for when we are away from home – you would think HP would include this with their software, but no…)

    Second, BillG said that there are web content controls in Vista – maybe a good template would be to allow hobbyists to write their own content inspection plug-ins.

  11. One of the Microsoft products I saw at CES that I am really excited about is Windows Home Server . It

  12. Shawn Oster says:

    Any type of MCE integration would rock.  I currently run my MCE headless and extend everything down to my 360, so any type of media/MCE integration would be of great interest, as in how can I take advantage of all the storage I’d hook up to WHS from my MCE machine?  Either direct recording to WHS shares or a WHS service that pulls all dvr-ms content off the MCE box to make room for more recordings.

    Even things like automatic background transcoding, for example the Zune doesn’t play dvr-ms so having WHS automatically convert everything to the correct resolution and format for my Zune and automatically add converted media to a playlist for auto-syncing.

  13. Andrew Tobin says:

    Hey Dan,

    I’ve already blogged a little about where I see WHS:

    What I’d really love to see is opening up the XNA framework enough to talk to web services on a local subnet – I haven’t played in XNA so I don’t know if this is possible, but I very much doubt it is from a XBox at the moment.

    What I’d like to see happen is something akin to WHS hosting a service that controls something such as Home Automation and build the interface to run on XNA so I could run it from any PC or my Xbox.

    That’s my little dream of where the hobbyist end up in the future.

    That said I would Love if the messenger team extended capabilities to a VOIP server – so I could host a VOIP machine on my WHS and have a cordless handset that I could hand to anyone in my family and they’d have their own number keyed to their Windows Live Account.

    Even better – down the line a 3G wireless mobile that if it was in range of my wireless network, or my work one and I had a WEP key, etc, then it would talk VOIP – but then when I left home talked to my cell provider.

    Same number, same everything.

    That’s my idea of a phone for the future – I have the same number for work, home and travel.

    Anyway, I can’t wait to see the possibilities open up for this.

    (I’ve seen other people ask for VOIP from an XBox but I think that’s completely unreasonable from a game you’d want to be pushing for better graphics, etc… but from a home server?  VOIP would be my number one ask).

  14. So over the past week or so I’ve been glancing through the kinds of requests that Ozymandias and Major

  15. Mark says:

    Email? Anyone? Buellor? I am sure it has been thought about. Just in case it hasn’t…


    Even if you make it an "You need to be an expert to make this work" kind of thing, I would be sooo happy to backup and control the email for the house. I saw somewhere how people were happy with web mail from the Big 4. I say that they have gotten used to that being the only semi-permanent solution to, "Where did my email go?!?!?! What do you mean it is gone forever!?!?!?!" Even better, tie it in with Live Mail. I like my Hotmail account but to have it on my own server and be able to make changes without the AJAX bringing it to its knees……(control yourself Mark)

  16. Chuck says:

    As I run an aging Win 2k domain at home (yes, I bought it retail as I wasn’t getting an MSDN sub at the time) I’m really looking forward to WHS!  However, I do hope that the security model maintains support for controlling access to directories, workstations and times.  I use account restrictions to limit the hours my children can be online at home, which PCs they may use and what shares they can access for reading/writing.

    Unfortunately for me, I’m again in a job role where I no longer get MSDN … so I’ll be waiting until a public beta is available.  However, I’ll be reading all I can about it in the meantime!

  17. Terry says:

    I think it would be a better idea for WHS to include IIS7 instead.

  18. Kevin C. says:

    Has anyone seen this Microsoft Web page that says that Sharepoint is NOT SUPPORTED on WHS?  —

  19. Faye says:

    WHS File Corruption Issue – Serious!!!