Microsoft recently refreshed the public preview of Windows Home Server Code Name Vail and although it is not ready for day to day use the preview gives us a great chance to take a look into the update.

In this first part of our look into WHS Vail we will explore the Remote Web Access interface.

Once you have browsed to your WHS Vail web page, https://yourserversname, you will be presented with a familiar log in screen:


You need to have created a user account after you installed WHS Vail to be able to log in via Remote Web Access.  For security reasons you can not use the Admin account for this.

Once you long in the Home page for Remote Web Access looks like this:


This home page has four main areas which three of them correspond to three of the menu items you have available along the top of the browser:

  1. Shared Folders
  2. Computers
  3. Media

The Links area can actually be modified with your choice of links when your logged into the server remotely or via the Dashboard.

Lets take a look at each of these areas.


This area will list your WHS Vail home server and any client computers that have been added to your setup via the connector software. It shows their status as well (Available, Offline/Sleeping).

If you click the Connect button you will be connected to that computer via a Remote Desktop Session.  If you click the area header, Computers, you will be taken to the Computers page on the Remote Web Access site:


Clicking on the entries will start a Remote Desktop Session and the information on this page is the same as that available on the Home page.

The area next to that is Shared Folders.


This area will show you all of the shared folders available on your WHS Vail server.  When you click on the folders or their icons you will be taken to the Shared Folders page on the Remote Web Access site:


This is actually the same page for each of those Shared Folders links on the Home page – it just goes to the folder based on what icon you clicked on the main page.  From this screen you can start to upload and download files to your WHS Vail server as well as create new folders for other types of files.

WHS Vail has a special media upload tool that allows you to drag and drop any media to upload it to the server.  It works the same for all media but here is what it looks like uploading some music files. 

These are the files ready to be uploaded


Here is the media upload in action


Upload complete

The final area we will look at for the Remote Web Access is the Media Library and this is the main interface for all of the media files you have stored on your WHS Vail server:


Clicking any folder or icon will take you to the Remote Web Access page for that type of media. 

As you can see on the Music Media interface any music you have uploaded can be sorted by the same categories as they can be in Windows Media Player (Album, Genre, Artist, etc.) and you can also play the music directly from the server via this page to your PC:


When you click on Play you get a new window to play your music in which is based in Silverlight and you can interact with the music just as if you were in Windows Media Player:


Now lets shift to a Pictures Media Library page and look at that interface:


Again files can be sorted based on their folder name or date created.  Clicking on a picture brings up a detail view which shows info about the photo on the right hand side of the page:


If you click on Play slideshow you can view the pictures in a new window as a slide show:


This picture player is also based on Silverlight.  Imagine being able to log into your home server from anywhere you have a web browser and Internet access and then showing your photos to family and friends.  This and the music interface are two big feature additions that I am glad to see in WHS Vail.  Right now though the Music interface for playing files is a bit buggy for me and will lock up.  The picture page slideshow does not seem to have that same issue.

Well that is the overall view of what your Windows Home Server Vail server will look like using the Remote Web Access to interact with it.  Next time we will take a look at the server using the Dashboard interface so we can show you the main controls and settings for the server.