Windows Home Server – a follow up

Several of you have been asking about if and when Windows Home Server would be available on MSDN Subscriber Downloads. My last post on this indicated that discussions were still underway, but that it looked promising that it wold be added.

Unfortunately it is not going to be made available for MSDN Subscribers at this time, based on additional discussions between the Product Group and the Subscriptions Teams.

I don't have any first hand knowledge of what went into this decision, but understand several of you will be disappointed by the decision. As you are aware, it might be added in the future, but it is not being included at this time.  

1/17/08 Update: Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on this decision - through the blog or through mail from the blog. I will be letting the WHS Product Group and other business decision makers know of the sentiment, and see if they would be willing to share any of the reasoning behind the decision.

2/5/08 Update: Thanks again for all of your feedback on the decision to not include WHS in MSDN Subscriptions. ALL of your feedback has been shared with the Product Group, and I believe they know realize that it would have been good and appropriate to have included it.

Unfortunately there are valid logistical issues which make reversing this decision at this time not possible since Subscriber volumes were not included in their original planning. At the point they have the opportunity to make this available, I believe they will have a much more deliberate discussion and I believe it will be made available based on your feedback and several follow up discussions with the Product Group.

Comments (40)

  1. Jussi says:

    Sad news. They made Win XP MCE available in MSDN even though it was only OEM (not sold separately), hoped they would’ve done the same with this.

  2. Arvind says:

    That’s disappointing to learn. Thanks for the update though.

  3. Xepol says:

    Just another reason to not renew my MSDN subscription any time soon.

  4. jmango says:

    Bad move Microsoft, you leave us little choice but to investigate Linux solutions.

  5. nicx says:

    i am very disappointed because of this desicion. i will not renew my msdn subscription, too.

  6. Geoff says:

    This one deserves a head shake. Lets see now:

    1. MS gives licenses for "windows Server 2003 Datacenter" worth tens of thousands of dollars, but not for home server work a couple hundre bucks.

    2. You want adoption of the new product, but don’t want anyone to develop for it.

    Makes perfect sense to me.

  7. Richard says:

    I saw the blurb recently in the MSDN flash promoting the WHS API and thought "cool I should convert an old PC into a WHS server" and try writing some apps – oh wait it’s not in my MSDN universal.  

    It’s no wonder the market doesn’t "Get WHS", people who have MSDN subscriptions are also the early adopters that drive understanding of new products into your marketplace.

  8. Ryan Hoffman says:

    I can’t understand the reasoning behind this decision.  Home Server is extensible with add-ins.  Home Server is an architecture that many MSDN subscribers want to be plugging in to.

  9. Brian Brown says:

    This is infuriating!!  How can you release an OS that includes an SDK and not have it on MSDN?  I love my home server, but I refuse to do my development on my production server.  Even Microsoft’s own best-practices show it is not a good idea to run beta/test code on a production server.  I now wish I hadn’t purchased the server.  There hasn’t been much happening with add-ins lately and thanks to this incredibly stupid decision there won’t be.  I know my plans were just shot down.

    I also know there are ways with VirtualPC to extend the trial of WHS, but I like doing things the right way.  MS won’t let me do that!

    I also love that there’s no mention of this on the whs team blog.

  10. It is very strange how some of these decisions are made. The whole point of MSDN is to allow developers access to Microsoft Products so we can test them and create applications for the platform.

    I am not saying not to renew the license, which we just did, that is harsh, but it is something that needs to be revised.

    What is the Mandate for MSDN? think about it….

  11. Scott says:

    Another person to not renew MSDN… since I do not develop for Server products like server 2008, removal of WHS from the mix means there is nothing new to look forward to in the next 12 months.

  12. Mark Levison says:

    Sad, sad. I can take a hint MS doesn’t want us to develop products for home server. Would someone remind my why I pay cash for my MSDN subscription?

  13. Greg Law says:

    I have to agree that this decision effectively sends a message to developers that Microsoft does not want us developing add-ins for Windows Home Server. I was really hoping to move into this direction soon, but I can’t see myself expending development resources on a production license. I’m not terribly concerned with spending a couple hundred bucks on Windows Home Server; it’s the lack of a development license from Microsoft since we tend to install development operating systems, servers, and tools more frequently than production licenses of these products (e.g. clean install tests, cross-product compatibility tests, and so forth). I had really hoped to develop some add-ins for Windows Home Server this year, but I am scrapping those plans until Microsoft releases development licenses through MSDN subscriptions.

  14. Gene F says:

    This effectively kills the market for WHS and stifles innovation on a platform that

    MS is trying to promote through the channel.  I sincerely hope MS would change

    its mind and include the platform in the near future.  The whole point of MSDN

    is to allow develoeprs/designers to kick the tires and develop products for

    upcoming MS platforms and this decision is very contrarian to the goal.

  15. JC says:

    I am flabbergasted. What a lLame decision… Am I supposed to purchase separate WHS licenses for the team, on **top** of our MSDN subscriptions? What kind of racket is this?

  16. Jeff White says:

    Kind of hard to test and reccomend an OS if I cannot get my hands on it (legaly)

  17. Still Grey says:

    You can get a 120 day eval no problem.  As well if you are a developer and need longer all you have to do is email the team.  There is nothing stopping a developer from developing 🙂  It is just not in MSDN okay?


  18. ER says:

    We spend many tens of thousands of dollars on MSDN Universal / Team Suite packages for our developers each year.  Doing so gives us an edge in the market for emerging technologies.

    As a matter of principle, we are no longer investing in any further WHS development because of this decision.

    Visual Studio is an amazing product, as are many other Microsoft tecnologies, so we are obviously not abandoning the platform.  However, it’s very depressing to see marketing get its way over engineering in a place like Microsoft.  I certainly hope this does not become a trend…

  19. JS says:

    I have to echo the comments above. We also spend a LOT of money on Team Suite subscriptions to have access to MS products for the purpose of adding value to the marketplace. What’s the fear here? That the license would be abused? As yet another poster mentioned – there are OSes on MSDN worth orders of magnitude more than WHS already. Who do you want developing add-ins for this product? I would think the same community that pays annually or every three years for the privilege of having access to this software. I could understand leaving it off if you wanted it to be a closed / non-extensible platform, but that’s clearly not the intent. If you want serious people/companies developing for it, provide an engagement channel for your professional developer community.

  20. tomf says:

    Glad to know my Team Suite subscription is getting me the very best money can buy. 🙂

    This is really disappointing.  I echo the comment earlier that it would be very helpful to understand the reasons why the WHS team thinks that restricting WHS from MSDN is the right way to go.  Hopefully we see something on their blog about it.

  21. Frank says:

    OK, my MSDN just expired – i won’t continue.

  22. Scott says:

    Got a copy of the "120 day" eval, and though it may indeed go for 120 days, it is giving me the 30 day activation warning already…  I guess the cost of using WHS is reinstalling it every 30 (or maybe 120) days… or ponying up an additional $180 per developer…

  23. mrdprot says:

    What the Product Group hopes to gain by withholding this product from their most loyal group of followers is beyond reason.  The only group that stands to gain from this decision is the Linux home server developers of whom I am actively researching thanks to the MSDN decision.  I guess they have finally caused me to stop being lazy and stop relying on MS for my software solutions.

  24. Art Zasadny says:

    My 120 day eval license for WHS stopped and now the software is sending me nag messages that my eval period is over (though it’s not even 60 days into the trial). I wanted to use my MSDN subscription to thoroughly test WHS, now I guess I can’t. Very disappointing…

  25. SubscriptionsBlogger2 says:

    From the product group regarding the 30 day / 120 day trial messages:

    “Each Windows Home Server copy (OEM, System Builder, Trial) comes with a 30 day activation period.  Once a customer activates the trial edition, they will  have an additional 90 days until the 120 day time bomb expires.  The upgrade scenario would be a Server Reinstallation with a retail copy in order to maintain all backups.”

    We have asked the product group about another possible way to address the above issue, but have not heard back on feisibility.

  26. Jimbo says:


    You can get a 120 day eval no problem.  As well if you are a developer and need longer all you have to do is email the team.  There is nothing stopping a developer from developing 🙂  It is just not in MSDN okay?



    Actually, the order page ( doesn’t even work (at least not for me). Choosing my country from the drop-down does a post back and reloads the default values…

    Is that intentional? Did our *itching in here piss sombody off enough to intentionally break the eval order page so we can’t even get it that way?

    Is the page working correctly for anyone else? I’m using IE7 on Vista Ultimate x64; maybe it’ll work for somebody w/ FireFox :p

  27. CarlosF says:

    Not cool!  I agree with many of the comments above.  Someone needs to forward some of these comments to the decision makers.  Doesn’t make business sense to withhold.  Did I mention (NOT COOL!!!)

  28. Richard says:

    Absolutely dumb decision by Microsoft WHS Team, I’m gobsmacked….

    We pay thousands of dollars per developer per year for MSDN and they end up skimping on a product that is a couple of hundred dollars.

    There is absolutely no way that I we are developing/testing for WHS on live installations – WE NEED THE DEV RELEASES. What is the freaking problem Microsoft??

    Strike us from the list of companies that will develop for WHS now. I agree that it looks like the WHS team don’t actually want people writing plugins. Then they’ll wonder why noone is looking at this platform.

    Sheer idiocy if you ask me…

  29. Mike says:

    Bad decision.  With so many competing products available for free you’d think they would let paying devs have their platform.  The more we use this stuff they more valuable it becomes to MS!  Not smart.

  30. HN says:

    What is so amazing is that Microsoft MSDN just made available Windows Server 2008 to its subscribers.  Isn’t this a much more costly server than the Microsoft Home Server that we desired?  Some decisions just make absolutely no sense at all 🙁

  31. edddy says:

    Just adding my disappointed comment to this really bad decision.

  32. Mark says:

    Stumbled across this following up on changes to MSDN site…

    Have to echo the sentiments if incredulous shock… I have been trying to figure out where it was on MSDN on and off for a while, as it seemed to be the perfect platform for a product I’ve been toying with developing…

    I had gotten a copy back from the original app contest, but in the process of some machine upgrades I lost it – but wasn’t too worried because of MSDN.

    Now I’m kicking myself. (Although wouldn’t be surprised now if that license was time-bombed!)

    You say there are "valid logistical issues" in providing this via MSDN – can you elaborate on that?

    I could see that maybe this product wouldn’t have one of the static DEV keys, but rather require you to request a unique activation key — but really, how hard can it be to carve off a block of keys for MSDN and then serve them up?

    Or just provide a means of using your subscriber ID as the funding source for "Purchase" via the existing on-line system?

  33. Brad says:

    Thanks for the update, but I think we were hoping to hear more about why the product group made this decision in the first place.  It’s in complete opposition to the sound business practice concepts behind MSDN Subscriptions.  It seems this would have been an extremely simple decision to make given the nature of MSDN Subscriptions and how the service has always worked.  Now we have no idea on how long it will be, if ever, before we can get a development key for this product.

  34. BrokenBokken says:

    I have been an advocate of Microsoft products for many years.  Thanks for rewarding my loyalty by skimping me on my MSDN subscription.  I won’t be recommending this product to anyone because I’m not going to be able to test and review it, unless the product group changes their minds.  Maybe I will just review a linux alternative instead and recommend that.

    Congratulations for hurting your developer community.

  35. Dave says:

    I guess I am amazed with all the excuses of why it CANNOT be done.  You have to be kidding.  If MS WANTED to make this happen, I have no doubt they could.  I still would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the WHS folks where deciding their product was not good enough for MSDN.  This does say a lot about that group and really understanding the big picture of what MSDN means to MS.

    Oh well, out of principal, I just stay away from it since that is the best way to walk the talk about what a dumb decision this was.

  36. tzagotta says:

    The delays are baloney – with our MSDN Subscription, we have the expectation that "all" Microsoft OSs would be available for development. There is no justifyable reason to exclude WHS because of "logistics." I’m personally very disappointed.

  37. av_guy says:

    This is yet another example of Microsoft being hard pressed to justify a really bad decision. Despite a huge number of unhappy MSDN customers, the only reason I’ve seen given for withholding Windows Home Server is: "Subscriber volumes were not included in their original planning." What does THAT mean? It’s not like MSDN users are going to compete (reduce) OEM sales of WHS. If anything, the opposite is likely true. And it’s not like there are any production or manufacturing issues. How much trouble is it to post WHS for download and include in on the next batch of MSDN DVDs? Surely the largest software company in the world could easily manage that if they WANTED to. But the message is clear: Microsoft just doesn’t care.

    The MSDN Universal subscription is SUPPOSED to include all operating systems. I think by any reasonable, or even legal definition, WHS is an operating system. So, perhaps Microsoft is inviting yet more legal action against them with this irrational decision?

    Decisions like this one contribute to the ever increasing negative sentiment towards Microsoft–especially by those in the IT and developer communities. And decisions like this one are why more and more Microsoft paying customers are turning to Google, Apple, Linux, open source solutions and other vendors for their future projects. Count me as one of them. MSDN is no longer worth the money and I’m tired of hitching my career to Microsoft only to be kicked in the face over and over again.

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  40. says:

    The Microsoft Action Pack is a subscription package available to IT Professionals, Students and other

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