I have always been a huge fan of Windows Home Server (WHS) and have used it here at my house for two years to back up all my PC’s and store our files in one central location. Well now it is time to step to the next major version of WHS so Microsoft has released a public preview of that version of their WHS software – codenamed Vail.

Here are some details from the Getting Started Guide which is available for download at Microsoft Connect:

Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” is the version 2 release of Windows Home Server. Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” is based on Windows Server® 2008 R2.

Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” is a 64-bit only operating system  and you can install the server software either manually or unattended, although in the vast majority of cases it will come pre-installed on OEM hardware

System requirements (The following minimum requirements are subject to change):

1.4 GHz x64 processor


At least one 160 GB (or larger) hard drive

NTFS is the only supported file system

Supported networking configuration:

Your server computer must be connected to a router via a network cable

The router works best with a UPnP ™ certified device, but it is not required

The router works best in the 192.168.x.x subnet, but it is not required

The following operating systems for home computers are supported to work with Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail”:

Windows 7 Operating System

Windows 7 Home Basic (x86 and x64)
Windows 7 Home Premium (x86 and x64)
Windows 7 Professional (x86 and x64)
Windows 7 Ultimate (x86 and x64)
Windows 7 Enterprise (x86 and x64)
Windows 7 Starter (x86)

Windows Vista Operating System

Windows Vista Home Basic with Service Pack 2 (SP2) (x86 and x64)
Windows Vista Home Premium with SP2 (x86 and x64)
Windows Vista Business with SP2 (x86 and x64)
Windows Vista Ultimate with SP2 (x86 and x64)
Windows Vista Enterprise with SP2 (x86 and x64)
Windows Vista Starter with SP2 (x86)

Windows XP Operating System

Windows XP Home with Service Pack 3 (SP3)
Windows XP Professional with SP3
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 with SP3

I think the most significant fact about this new version of WHS is that it only comes in a 64 bit version. I think that will drive a lot of hardware upgrades for WHS servers, I know it will for me personally, that are running on a 32 bit architecture. I installed WHS on an older computer which has run the OS admirably and I think many others did the same thing when WHS came out a couple of years ago. I am a geek though so I look forward to building that new 64 bit system for my WHS V2 (Vail) setup.

Some resources that might come in handy as you take a look at Vail are available already along with the public preview:

This appears to be a wide open preview program so if your really interested in testing this out and providing constructive feedback to make it a better product then get in there and sign up.

I will caution you though. This is an early release and a beta and I would not trust this with my real live data yet. Microsoft would even tell you this. So if you do use it for your stuff make sure you have a solid backup to protect your data. No blaming Microsoft if you trust your critical info to a beta release.

Let us know what you think of it.