Microsoft Solicits Feedback on Vail Docs, Gets Earful About Drive Extender

by Alex Kuretz on December 22, 2010 · 12 comments

in News

Microsoft today released preliminary documentation for Windows Home Server Vail, soliciting feedback via a survey linked on the page.

I found the help topics to be high level and lacking in detail, most items were last updated in August, and of course there is no mention of storage management or the replacement for the recently killed Drive Extender. The link to the WHS Blog points to the old blog that hasn’t been updated since May of this year, and the most informative articles are simply links to the Forums where customers and enthusiasts are sharing their expertise.

The survey itself is brief and almost entirely irrelevant with very little about the documentation and no opportunity to provide personal input. It is really just a marketing tool, with questions that ask if you use your server for business or home use, and if you charge a fee for Server Administration and Support tasks.

I learned about this on the Windows Home Server Facebook page, and was struck that nearly every single comment was a strong statement of lack of interest in Windows Home Server Vail without Drive Extender (at the time of this writing 1 of the 33 user comments said they didn’t miss DE). This comment captured the overall sentiment well:

Kevin Martin: OK, so you won’t listen to the community when you remove DE, but you still want a feedback survey so you can say you listened to the community? Like everyone else, without DE, there is no point. Without DE, WHS is a crippled Windows server. Why bother.

Microsoft’s customers are obviously frustrated that tomorrow marks one month since the Drive Extender announcement was made and we’ve still not heard a word about their plans to make Windows Home Server Vail a solution that works well for home users. It feels like an insult that Microsoft is asking for our feedback while failing to respond to the feedback that is being vocalized the most loudly from their customers.

I encourage you to check out the documentation (don’t bother visiting the site with the Chrome browser as it is quite broken), fill out the survey, and leave a comment on the Windows Home Server Facebook page if you want to share your personal input.

Article by

I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


Nigel Wilks December 23, 2010 at 1:18 am

Not quite sure what the value of that form is. They could have tailored it for WHS rather than just a blanket feedback form used for other server products. The only interesting and useful thing I found on the site was the sole WHS entry in the Windows Wiki.

LoneWolf December 23, 2010 at 7:17 am

I agree, Nigel. And, not even a small 150-character field for user comments at the end of the survey.

It looks like a token effort to say “We’re listening to you!” while keeping one’s fingers crossed behind one’s back.

Gordon Currie December 23, 2010 at 11:02 am

Frankly, having been involved in research and data analysis both at Microsoft and elsewhere, it looks like a classic case of “Here’s the outcome we want – now go and get the data to support it!”

Haje Korth December 28, 2010 at 7:31 am

thanks for the great summary for using these drives. I recently ordered two of EARS drives and was amazed how many articles and hype I had to sift through to settle with the jumper method for use as pool drives. The system has been working nicely this way for a month now. (Keeping fingers crossed.)

I did not, however, use WD idle. I was confused at the time about the model numbers this software applies to. If I go to the link you cite, the EARS drives are not listed there. If I understand correctly though the WDIdle software works for the WD 2TB EARS (WD20EARS) drives. Did I get this right?

Alex Kuretz December 28, 2010 at 8:47 am

I’m pretty sure you meant to post in another blog post that is about Advanced Format Drives:

That article was written by a guest contributor, if you post your questions there I’m sure he’ll respond.

Haje Korth December 29, 2010 at 6:59 am

Thanks Alex, not sure how I managed to post this with the wrong article.

Jason December 29, 2010 at 8:35 am

I really like my WHS but of course, like any product it has its hiccups and annoyances. I had been looking forward to Vail to patch a lot of that up and was fully planning on running it up until the DE announcement.

Now my plan is to put a Synology NAS in and demote the WHS to a few jobs that require Windows (the NAS can run Linux compiled stuff but won’t work for some of the things I am doing) and keep it going until it is dead.

MS as a corporation really seems to have lost a lot of face and direction in the market over a startlingly short period of time and still seems to be staffed with executives that assume that if they release a product the public will buy it.

PRSHope December 31, 2010 at 1:20 am

In spite of their power, wealth and success, Microsoft is making yet another mistake by killing a product with such loyal following and promise. It’s not the first time they do this; it is becoming a pattern. I am of the opinion they also killed Visual FoxPro in spite of loyal following and customer base. Sure, technology and markets change – and change we must always embrace/accept as a fact of life but change is not always for the better. Besides, we are talking software here and the deepest pockets in the world to fund their further development. I really can’t understand a company that makes these decisions and still expects people (other than shills/employees) to look up to it.

Tom January 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Without DE I could care less about vail as well. If I have to buy a drobo for data protection, then I can use Win7′s built in backup on idividual PC’s and send that to Drobo as for DLNA, web interface etc, if you have a 24/7 HTPC on like I do for DVR, you can just attach the drobo to that and you have WHS. MS might as well not even make WHS at this point without DE, at least from my perspective what exactly is a WHS without DE, what benefits to running a machine 24/7 would it bring? Perhaps media center functionality where recordings could be schedule by an extender or another PC and over the web, the WHS would record them and stream them to the extenders / pc, but really W7 could do that already, I just cannot see a purpose for a DE-Less WHS at all, none…

Simon Lono June 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

Quick question. . . . I have an Aspire H340 box with two 2tb wd caviar green drives in the pool. I just jumpered them and inserted and they work perfectly!

Can I do the same with the new WD 3tb caviar greens to fill my 4th bay??

Alex Kuretz June 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

Your question has nothing to do with the blog post. Please post your question in the forums.

Comments are closed, visit the forums to continue the discussion.

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