Microsoft has released preview builds of its "Vail" Windows Home Server, as well as its "Aurora" Windows Small Business Server. "Aurora" emphasizes cloud interoperability, which plays into Microsoft's larger cloud strategy.
Microsoft has released preview builds of its Windows Home
Server, codenamed Vail, and its Windows Small Business Server, codenamed Aurora.
The new Vail build adds native support for Mac OS, and can be
. Other features include improved multi-PC backup and
restore, simplified setup, media streaming outside a home or office, and a
variety of development and customization tools. Microsoft offered no word on a
release date for a final version of Vail, but
this preview build is presumably much closer to a finished product than the
beta released in late April
Also available for download: the Vail Preview SDK, which
includes API references, how-to documents, templates for building add-ins with
Visual Studio 2008 and examples of complete add-ins.
In keeping with its traditional ramp-up strategy, Microsoft
is soliciting comment about the platform. "You can provide feedback about the
new build through our Connect site and even log ideas or feature suggestions for
future versions of Windows Home Server," Jonas Svensson, Community Program manager for the Windows Home Server team, wrote
in an Aug. 16 posting on The Windows Blog
Microsoft also made the latest preview of Windows Small
Business Server, codenamed Aurora, available for
Aurora "represents a significant departure from our
traditional fully on-premise model," Kevin Kean, general manager of Windows
Home and Small Business Servers, wrote
in an Aug. 16 posting on The Official SBS Blog
. "Aurora extends the ease of
use of our traditional SBS products while simultaneously being a great platform
for small businesses wanting to combine traditional and cloud computing."
To that end, Aurora's features include advanced backup and
file-restoration features, with automatic daily backups of PCs on a network;
the server, along with the computers and documents connected to it, can also be
accessed from common Web browsers. Given Microsoft's recent corporate focus on
the cloud, Kean added, it's no surprise that Aurora also includes access to
"pay-as-you-go online services to extend the server functionality without
increasing workload and maintenance needs."
More information about Aurora, which supports up to 25 user
accounts, can be
. Microsoft also released a version of Windows Server Solutions
SDK, which includes an Aurora toolset with how-to documents, API references
and templates for building add-ins with Visual Studio 2008. Developers can
leverage the SDK to heighten the server's interoperability with cloud services.
By incorporating more cloud-centric features into Aurora,
Microsoft is emphasizing yet again that it regards the cloud as the future of
business IT. In several events over the course of the summer, company
executives have pushed an "all in" cloud strategy.
"We are going to lead with the cloud," Microsoft COO Kevin
Turner said during a speech at the company's Financial Analyst Meeting July 29.
"Leading with the cloud actually helps better position Microsoft to sell more
on-premises products than we ever have before ... very strategically it signals a
very clear commitment to our customers and to our partners."
Microsoft also envisions its cloud strategy as stealing customers
from IBM and Novell, among others. Azure, Microsoft's cloud-development
platform, has around 10,000 users; the company also claims to control around 20
percent of the virtualization market. However, cloud initiatives have yet to
contribute significantly to Microsoft's bottom line, which is currently
dominated by traditional software products such as Windows 7.