Microsoft Shows Windows Phone 7 Add-In for Vail, Remains Silent On How Vail Will Protect Your Data

by Alex Kuretz on January 8, 2011 · 18 comments

in News

At CES this week, Microsoft has been demonstrating an upcoming Add-In for Windows Home Server Vail that integrates Windows Phone 7 devices with a Vail Home Server. The Add-In provides streaming of music, photos and video, the ability to upload pictures, as well as manage the Alert Notifications generated by your Vail Home Server. If you’re not at CES to see the demo first-hand, the Windows Home Server team have a blog post describing the demo so you can see the features of the upcoming Add-In.

It should be noted that similar streaming features have been available to owners of the Windows Home Server v1 based HP MediaSmart Server for nearly two years via the iStream app for the iPhone and iPod touch.

As has become typical whenever the Windows Home Server team makes any kind of public statement (particularly on their Facebook page), the majority of comments are from readers expressing their continued disappointment at the removal of Drive Extender from Windows Home Server Vail. Unfortunately disappointment from the community is turning into significant frustration with Microsoft, due in large part to their absolute silence about the future of Vail without Drive Extender.

A user by the name of “avidgator” left a comment on the Windows Home Server blog post that makes a very good point (emphasis mine):

Nice to hear that WHS is making an appearance at CES, although I was expecting to hear more concrete information. Any update on the post by Michael Leworthy last November? – “Let me completely confirm we are 100% committed to Vail, and continue to work on all the core features outside of Drive Extender. We fully expect to be able to show some of our new and partnered OEM solutions at CES.

Microsoft, why aren’t you talking to your customers about how Vail will protect our data now that Drive Extender is gone? The silence is swiftly becoming deafening, and you are damaging your relationship with the biggest fans of Windows Home Server.

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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.


Awake January 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Simple…. just buy two home servers, load them up with similar capacity, and make them sync with each other for data redundancy.
Oh never mind, Vail does not provide multiple server mirroring.
But is should be simple enough to setup an RSync routine, after all, the drives in Vail will be seen as one big drive, so the script would be rather simple… ooops, never mind, drive pooling is gone also, so you have to juggle multiple drive letters and match their capacities.

But Vail offers so many features, such as… hmmmm…. let me think… it offers… well… it has… quick, look, over there, a dancing dog! (exit stage left)

Seriously… is there any reason whatsoever that we should care about Vail or WHS?

Or does Microsoft think we are stupid?

The Kitty January 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I’m reinstalling WHS V1 on my Vail test box as I type this.

My other WHS is an HP 485 and I have the HP iPhone app. It would be very prudent of MS to support multiple phone platforms or face even more alienation.

GPKing January 8, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Microsoft: save the money, just serve your business community – that’s what you want to do anyways …
And you should fire the remaining home server people … At least that was – in the eyes of the investment community a positive decision – personnel reduction.
So far my HP 495 works like a charm. Let’s hope it stays that way … Otherwise I am looking for a NAS.

snowdins January 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm

They just keep pissing me off with how they are handling everything. I hope MVP’s are getting some info atleast.

I also have been looking at NAS’s and will be moving away from WHS in a couple months.

jam3ohio (Jim) January 9, 2011 at 7:06 am

If they provide an easy to use raid management dashboard, I will probably go with Vail. Backups will still be there, I’ll have a higher performance disk array, and the remote access and media streaming functionality is nice. Let’s see what they release before giving up on the platform.

mark January 9, 2011 at 9:09 am

I’m in agreement Jim. I will most certainly migrate (or at least give it a try before moving on) to Vail for exactly the same reasons. DE is gone, get over it and move on. If you are going to move to a different platform then so be it. All this continued complaining is counter productive.

FWJ January 9, 2011 at 9:52 am

Did we all forget MS is a company still, and they DO NOT have to share what is in works before release. Sure it would be nice to see whats the happening…All users that are complaining that Vail is expiring and upset that they were not given notice… You were… IT IS Beta and MS DOCS state not use for LIVE RUN TIME! You are the fool if you loose the data. I admit at one point I too was tempted. But I tested vail on another machine and put my urge aside and waited…and Waited and waited more, then the announce of DE removal..WOW GLAD I DIDNT go live with a beta…and all who are still running live on that Beta, are just asking for punishment. Who knows we might just see Vail Vanish.Sad but true.
Or maybe we’ll see a Windows 7 Platform (keep in on the Home front) with some ported backup and such for a server.. Would give us Media Center.. and No MS would not have to give a Full 2008r2 away with each Home Install for free almost. Maybe this is some of the rummor mill we saw? Far fetched?

Awake January 9, 2011 at 9:37 am

>> All this continued complaining is counter productive.

There would be no complaining if they hadn’t turned Vail into a completely useless product.

We had an expandable redundant storage system, now we have what? A media streamer with some backup capability?

Microsoft destroyed a perfectly capable product, and we are supposed to sit back and not complain? Actually, you are right, I will not complain anymore, and just watch it fail miserably. And whoever is in charge of the Home Server program deserves to get fired, not only for the technical choices that he has made, but for the utterly disingenuous and “whatever!” attitude that he has taken towards the needs of their users.

Vail, at this point, deserves to fail. Maybe it will wake up some of the so called “Program Managers” at Microsoft and make them listen to the needs and “complaints” of their users, instead of just breaking a product and saying, “Oh well, if you don’t like it, that’s to bad.”

Has Microsoft responded in any way to the almost unanimous negative response to their actions concerning WHS? Nothing, not even an apology, and “this is what we are thinking of doing to fix the problem.” Nothing at all.

Vail will fail, it is a useless shell of what it once was. Expect the program to be cancelled outright any day now. And your storage needs will be left in limbo.

FWJ January 9, 2011 at 10:02 am

I tend to agree I expect a outright cancel of the program…Even though I have avocated for MS and Vail and still feel DE should have been removed..

It is problematic for users such as me who have implimented at least 6 other Custom Home installs for other users…It IS a sour taste in my mouth, but hey I am the minority and not the Mass market. I would be left with the decision if my installs warrant Aurora-like installs, straight NAS, Unix. or WIN 7 for storage.

Comp1962 January 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I am a strong supporter of WHS and feel it does have a place. Where MS will take it I have no clue. All I know is that ever since they announced dropping DE I have found myself losing interest fast in VAIL but I do know that WHS v1 works well, serves me and others well and will continue to use it.

Interestingly I was a big fan of Windows Mobile Phones until I saw where the new Windows Mobile 7 was going and so when I upgraded my phone I opted to go with the Android Phone. With the Android Phone I am able to access my WHS v1 Server and do what I need to do. I can stream my music and movies, I can access my files and can easily RDP to my server with very little effort. I think MS is now just late to the table.

Having said all this I will indeed look at Vail when its finally released and then and only then determine if it will be able to serve my needs as WHS v1 has done for over 2 yrs now. As for their silence its very hard to believe as when Vail was first released as a Beta, MS appeared to be engaged with the community and now appears to be withdrawn. If all they have to show is a phone app them it says very little.

Varun January 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm

“Microsoft, why aren’t you talking to your customers about how Vail will protect our data now that Drive Extender is gone? ”

They’re not talking about WHS because I’m beginning to suspect that WHS development has actually ceased. They will quietly put out a blog post in about 4-6 weeks when the next beta is due out informing us that due to “lack of interest from our customers and OEMs”, they have cancelled further development of Vail. And of course that they will be happy to note that many of the same features can be offered today using their Windows Live “ecosystem” and they will release a tool to help migrate content currently stored on their WHS to Windows Live.

Rhinoevans January 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

My guess is that the HOME Server community is a small one, that is what they are not talking to us. I cant wait for Vail. DE will not be their, so I will move on with what MS provides. Lost of whining going on here. I like DE, but its not the end of the world. Grow up, move on. Vail will bring 64 bit, better drivers, better streaming capability than WHS1, and I hope some better DE capability that will PROTECT my data. Call it RAID, whatever. I would go with Server 2008 if it wasn’t so expensive. WHS 1 is OK. Been running it for a years, have about an 8 TB server, but to be honest it is a bit dated based on server 2003. Vail will be just what I need. On par with WIN 7 architecture. Good By DE you will be missed, and soon forgotten.

Alex Kuretz January 10, 2011 at 8:45 am

Vail will bring 64 bit, better drivers, better streaming capability than WHS1, and I hope some better DE capability that will PROTECT my data. Call it RAID, whatever. I would go with Server 2008 if it wasn’t so expensive. WHS 1 is OK. Been running it for a years, have about an 8 TB server, but to be honest it is a bit dated based on server 2003. Vail will be just what I need.

As someone who has an 8TB server and is comfortable with RAID, you are not the primary target customer for Windows Home Server. Data protection and expansion needs to be simple and easy enough for the average consumer.

Michel Derome January 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I have WHS V1 and I just love it.

As far as I am concern with Drasha that have completed some left work to do in the first platform I am quite happy and I feel no need to change and will even go buy a second copy of OEM to make another one as it does what I need a full backup of my PC and a media Hub.

Of course I would have love Vail to do that but I have it right now with V1 and I am keeping it.

The Kitty January 9, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Well, if I could get a good backup solution for 10 PCs, then maybe using Win7 might work out as the Ceton 4 tuner cablecard mixing DVR and server would be a dream.

FWJ January 9, 2011 at 7:44 pm

@Kitty Exacly…Unfortunately I have not found as easy solution, for backup…as well as common file elimination etc…all other Ghosting/Imaging type want to back up everything and not in a single nice interface as this… thus the BIG reason I am hinging on to hopefully the evential Vail(ing)..

All my installs usually are large 10+ TB 6-10 PC’s so I never TRUELY worry about a combo Media Center as I do Understand MS thought that you do not want your Taxed media center dragging down a server, But a few small installs I have done in the 2 T range with like 3 PC’s it would be nice to have combined MEdia Center.

FWJ January 9, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Win 7 thus far remains a client not server or shared HUB other than a homegroup slave.

GPKing January 10, 2011 at 8:15 am

I am no winer … I have abandoned MS a long time ago. Except my Mediasmartserver and a dual boot on my MacBook, I am all Apple and love it.

WHS 1 is a product that – I have to admit – is clearly superior to anything Apple offers or that XY NAS company offers. And the MSS works with my Macs … and saved me more than once!!

Now, when I got the second build of Vail, I was actually encouraged to see OS Mac integration (sure it needed some tweaking) and other nice updates. Let’s face – I was never looking for a revolutionary new release … just make an already good product great !

Now let’s see – why would I upgrade? Now with DE gone, I would need new hardware, which no doubt – if it ever sees the light of day – will be more expensive. A friend of mine actually just bought a Drobo. Works great … Full Mac support … Maybe that’s the way to go if I an forced to buy new hardware.

I am looking for ease of use … What I get from Apple. I am a tech enthusiast but frankly do not have the time to tinker around for a solution that gives me what I already have.

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