Snatching defeat from the Jaws of victory!


24, 2010

Author rush24 // in News

Disclaimer: I hope our readers will indulge me to rant on a topic not typically mobile related.

The headline above is the only phrase I can think of when thinking of Microsoft’s latest move to remove Drive Extender Technology from Windows Home Server. WHS is an excellent backup and media  server OS that is great for home users since most of our data today exist in the digital format be it photos videos, documents and such and solves the increasingly difficult problem of trying to to keep up with content residing on disparate PCs around the house. I know there are 3rd party solutions but WHS by far provides the simplest method to accomplish the for the average user. Paul Thurrott explains it better here.

The Drive Extender Technology that Microsoft is removing provided a seamless way whereby the user via a simple interface could add hard drive space to the server as needs grew without having to mess with drive letters and RAID configurations. Microsoft initial reasoning today was that they got feedback from users that the technology was not meeting their needs!!! which doesn’t make sense since it was one of the main reasons for choosing WHS over any other solution. Mr. Thurrott further states

here’s where we get to the bit that Microsoft didn’t communicate for some reason: Why Drive Extender is being killed.

In a briefing last month, I was told that Microsoft and its partners discovered problems with Drive Extender once they began typical server loads (i.e. server applications) on the system. This came about because Drive Extender was being moved from a simple system, WHS, to a more complex, server-like OS )(SBS "Aurora") that would in fact be used to run true server applications. And these applications were causing problems.

From what I can see, instead of maybe only removing it from the more complex versions of the Small Business Server Versions because of application compatibility, they go and throw the baby out with the bath water! I have been recommending WHS to friends because I’ve had a few of them loose valuable files due to hard drive failures or OS crashes and the ability to add drives on the fly as storage needs expanded was a key selling point . There are online backup solutions but there are still a lot of people who prefer to keep there data in-house. has a great article covering this story including the guiding principles of Drive Extender as outlined by then General Manager for WHS, Charlie Kindel.  Back then, Mr. Kindel  stated, I would rightly say, that RAID was not a consumer technology. How then do we then go from…

Those same geeks, when encountering Windows Home Server for the first time, often ask the question "Why doesn’t Windows Home Server use RAID?".  The simplest answer is RAID sucks as the basis for a consumer storage product.  But, my PR team would rather I not say it in such a negative way. Instead, they want me to say something positive like:

"Windows Home Server is a consumer product that provides an amazingly powerful yet super-simple to use solution to centralizing a mutli-PC household’s storage. Windows Home Server includes a new, revolutionary storage technology we call Windows Home Server Drive Extender that kicks RAID’s butt.

To this quote MS on Mary Jo Foley’s post

While this (axing of Drive Extender) removes the integrated ability for storage pooling of multiple hard drives and automated data duplication, we are continuing to work closely with our OEM partners to implement storage management and protection using industry standard RAID solutions. This will provide customers greater choice as well as a seamless experience that will meet their storage needs.  Customers will also have access to the in-built storage solutions Windows Server 2008 R2 provides for data protection, including software RAID support.

I don’t see how Microsoft can reconcile “RAID sucks as a consumer as the basis of a consumer storage product” with them working with OEM partners to ”to implement storage management and protection using industry standard RAID solutions.” Microsoft is essentially at the cusp destroying a great product with a very bad decision  which some people are now comparing it to the Vista debacle. I agree with what some commenters have proposed, It would be better for Microsoft to just cancel or delay the release of WHS “Vail” and get this major feature working right instead acting as if it is not a big deal or as the saying goes, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Some users have started a petition to urge Microsoft to bring this feature back. (You have to sign in with your Windows Live ID)

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