A free beta version of the latest edition of Microsoft's Windows Home Server--code-named Vail--is available for download.
Unveiled online Monday, Microsoft promises four major changes in Vail: the ability to stream music and video outside your home network via the Internet, easier back-up and restoration of files on multiple PCs, simpler, more user-friendly setup and overall administration, and the creation of your own add-ins and services to integrate with Vail via a new software developers kit.
Windows Home Server provides file sharing, media streaming, network backups, remote access, and other server-type benefits to home and home office users.
Before downloading Vail from the Windows Home Server site, Microsoft has a few words of advice.
Vail is being released as a 64-bit operating system only, so it can't be installed on a 32-bit PC. Since it's a beta, Microsoft recommends installing it on a secondary PC rather than on the main home server. Note: the installation of Vail will force you to remove all data from the PC. Finally, Vail will require a computer with at least a 1.4GHz x64 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 160GB of disk space.
The video below highlights some of Vail's new features: