Microsoft recently announced a new platform called Windows Home Server. This will enable a new breed of NAS devices (home servers, you might call them) to collect and store music, movies, photos in one place from all the computers on the network. That means families will have an easier time consolidating photos and music into one source. Windows Home Server can even enable users to access their content securely over the web (wow, I didn't realize what a security nightmare this is going to be until I just wrote it). The devices will also be able to preform automated backups, something most people should do, but don't. Currently there are no devices available using Windows Home Server, the image above is a concept product by Carbon Design that will never be released (more pics here). I'm personally really psyched about these devices, I use Microsoft's SyncToy to backup my PC and absolutely love it. Also if these devices can consolidate my and my girlfriends music library into one source I'd be happy dude. However, this is Microsoft we're talking about, so I'm just a tad skeptical...
Microsoft is known for creating platforms, but then letting their "hardware
partners" (like Toshiba, HP, etc) create the actual products. Microsoft
does this because they say it works for them, despite the fact that it doesn't
really work for anyone else. Microsoft's wireless display project,
was a spectacular failure that I truly enjoyed researching and writing
about. Also, Microsoft approached MP3 players and online music sales with
this same strategy and it resulted in them pretty much abandoning it and making
the Zune. With the XBOX however, they did everything from top to bottom
and it has worked out famously.
This is a brand new type of product, and while it does something that probably a lot of families and small business will find useful, I'm not sure how many people are really asking for it. That could make the products really difficult to explain and market to customers. And given that the devices will probably be marketed by Microsoft and each individual vendor making a product, I'd expect a good amount of customer confusion resulting in little purchases. Lastly, while Microsoft's user interfaces are definitely improving, I could still see this device being really hard to set up and administer. Hopefully though, it'll be super slick and easy.
I suppose only time will tell what will really happen. Either way if you're really jonesing for a slick NAS solution check out the Mirra, it has a lot of the fuctionality listed for the Windows Home Server and it's out now for cheap and it works with both Mac and PCs.
Windows Home Server Blog