Home Server, a variant of Windows Server 2003, aims to simplify sharing of picture, music and video files among home PCs and the monitoring of the machine’s security status. As well, it provides a central print server and backup for up to 10 computers.
The client’s interface lets users remotely administer the Home Server and the remote gateway gives access to any networked PC from outside the home. Data is distributed across drives to prevent single drive failure and it’s simpler to add more storage.
User profiles can be set to control access privileges including administration, read/write and remote access.
Media can also be streamed to an Xbox 360 gaming console.
Along with the home server and the Xbox 360 as an extension for the Windows Media Centre, the stand showcased a new touchscreen in the ‘kitchen’, a connected home office and a new Rugby World Cup gadget for Vista.
“Our consumer asset story is a lot stronger,” says Microsoft marketing manager Brent Colbert. “There’s a lot more convergence in the devices and the software that underpins that.”
The digital home section of the show debuted last year after it was pitched to organisers by BQD managing director Rick Jansen.
Jansen was again an organiser behind the scenes. This year he exhibited separately with his home products company Newtek, but Microsoft and vendor partners were the face of the digital home stand and supplied the technology.
The World Cup gadget can also be used via a browser that supports Microsoft’s recently-released Silverlight. It was developed by digital home specialist Mabode and web developer ZeroOne.
Mabode helped set up the stand’s technology and has been developing third party applications for Windows Home Server.
Director Jay Templeton, also a consultant to Microsoft, says there is an opportunity for resellers to develop additional applications and to provide remote management services around Home Server.
Participating stand vendors were Microsoft, HP, D-Link and ISP Orcon, while online reseller Acquire was on hand to help people buy the products on show.
Acquire director Simon Scott says it was the “shop inside the stand”. It designed a web portal for customers to see where technology fitted into different rooms in the house and to advertise show specials.
Orcon marketing manager Duncan Blair says his company had wanted to participate in an event like this for a long time. “When you’re selling broadband day to day, all the people who know what it does have already got it. To get other people across the line we have to demonstrate it hands-on.”