File Under: Software & Tools

Total Media Convergence, Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows_homeserver
Anyone who wrote "back up my data more often" near the top of their list of new year’s resolutions just got lucky.

As our intrepid reporters at the Gadget Lab tell us, Microsoft’s mass data storage solution for the home network is coming soon. The Windows Home Server will hit stores in the first half of 2007.

The Windows Home Server is a software suite that automatically finds and backs up all of the data on all of the Windows PCs on your home LAN. It can be used to manage data stored within user accounts, shared folders, and external storage devices. More than a simple automated NAS backup, it also sports Zune connectivity, and there’s a web component that lets you log in and access your data from any connected computer on the planet.

It also uses some sort of redundancy, though whether it’s an array (RAID) or just a partitioned 1TB disc, I can’t tell. The storage capacity is expandable — your data is re-organized on the fly as you plug in more hard drives.

Yes, backing up data is essential — everyone agrees. But MS is also positioning itself to own your digital living room. I imagine that the Home Server is going to be essential for anyone who uses Microsoft software and hardware to manage their digital media. If you have a Zune and an XBox 360 (which will soon be able to deliver IPTV), you can hook up one of these servers and use it to store all of your movies, music and photos. Then, you can access all of the media from any computer, a Zune or your TV with no hitches.

Even though it’s a proprietary solution, this is total convergence handled very simply.

349820179_5f192d4879_m
Though the Home Server product is just software, we can also expect Microsoft to release a hardware box running the backup suite as well. Microsoft’s Charlie Kindell has a picture of a prototype on his blog. The first device to market (expected in Q2) will be Hewlett Packard’s MediaSmart Server (thanks for the link, Logich!) which is expandable up to 6TB. No word yet on pricing or tech details — like whether or not it’s running RAID 5 — but we’ll keep you updated. Will these devices kill the Media Center PC? Seems like there’s no need for it anymore if you’ve also got an XBox 360.

Either way, Microsoft is calling Apple’s hand. Steve Jobs is expected to give more details on Apple’s iTV product at tomorrow’s Macworld keynote. The iTV is a delivery device (similar to the XBox’s role in MS’s equation). Will Apple provide network-attached storage, automated backups, WAN-accessibility and total convergence for Apple users?

Read Bill Gates’ entire keynote
[pic via cek.log]