Windows Home Server beta unveiled

The beta of the next version of Windows Home Server, code-named Vail, offers four major changes and is available for free download.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney

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.

The new look of Vail.
The new look of Vail. Microsoft

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.

Microsoft is looking for feedback, and testers can join the discussion forum at the Windows Home Server Community site. You can also apply to be part of the Windows Home Server Connect program.

The video below highlights some of Vail's new features: