At the Bill Gates keynote, we got first word of the new Windows Home Server that HP will first offer; more OEMs will follow. I chatted with a Microsoftie on the floor about the WHS because as much as I like the product I had a concern. The product is great when you’re out and about with connectivity. What about when you’re not; say you’re using a UMPC on the road, don’t have 3G at the moment and are far from a hotspot?
My concern was from a companion PC standpoint and synchronizing files that you took "off-line" from the WHS. Maybe you pulled down a Word doc from the WHS on your UMPC at the local Starbucks. You make file changes later in the day and when you later connect, what happens? Does the WHS resolve the changes in the files?
It turns out that the Windows Home Server won’t natively keep those files in synch, based on our discussion. Then again, it’s really not an issue because I figured that Vista’s Sync Center features could handle this task: sure enough, I guessed right.
You’ll need to set up a partnership in Vista for the files and folders you want to keep in synch, but once you do that and gain connectivity to your WHS again, Vista will keep everything up to date. The added benefit of the WHS is that you can have your remote machines completely backed up, which I find to be a huge benefit while on the road: no need to connect external drives or burn optical media backups! Remote controlling those home PCs on your network is another boon for us mobile peeps while you’re connected.
Microsoft is still finalizing the Windows Home Server software (although the demos I saw looked pretty solid) and once they do that and provide it to HP, you’ll see these little self-sufficient boxes for sale. The expectation I heard was the second half of 2007, but we’re sure to hear details before then.