Microsoft’s Michael Leworthy on The Windows Team Blog reported today that the Windows Home Server team gave up on key technology Drive Extender (DE). What does this really mean? This means no drive pooling. This means no redundancy (i.e. your data goes bye bye if a drive fails). This means we’re back to drive letters, woo hoo! This means Windows Home Server is pretty darn useless (on its own).
Leworthy shared Microsoft’s reasoning behind the decision In a typical cover-ass fashion (emphasis mine):
When weighing up the future direction storage in the consumer and SMB market, the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs. Customers also told us that they wanted easier access to data stored on Drive Extender drives so they are able to view these files outside of Drive Extender. Therefore, moving forward we have decided to remove the Drive Extender technology from Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” (and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials) which are currently in beta.
Right. Customers chimed in and asked – hey, guys … I'd really like to get my data outside of WHS. I’d like to pull my drives out and plug in my USB disk cradle so I can access my financial spreadsheet. I’m totally okay with you stripping all the reliability and usability features in WHS! Ahhhhhhhhhhh.
For some odd reason, Leworthy isn’t 100% transparent in his post. For example, he conveniently skips over the fact that SBS partners – not WHS customers – drove the nail into DE’s coffin. Why? “Application compatibility” issues arising from DE use on SBS – not WHS. (I guess DB9 doesn’t run well on SBS.) And there’s no mention of how they believe this is a non-issue and WHS customers won’t care.
So, are you still looking to upgrade to “Vail”?
“Vail” on its own is useless without DE, in my opinion. It may be salvageable, however, if OEMs find a glimmer of value in “Vail”; they can bolt on DE-like/RAID-like solutions to fill the gap. Hell, if done right, the difference (to the user) may be indistinguishable. But do we really want a kludge of HP software housing my priceless photos and videos of keyboard cat? Probably not.
I emailed Drobo and they’re understandably excited (and ready) to receive an influx of Windows Home Server users. They may even run a promotion. I’ll update this post if they do.
Rant in the comments area. Anyone want to start a petition to get DE reworked or open-sourced?
Update: You can vote for the return of DE on Microsoft Connect.