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MS drops drive pooling from Windows Home Server

When Vail became Fail

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Microsoft is killing off a popular feature in the next version of its Windows Home Server product, which is codenamed ‘Vail’.

The software vendor said that it would get rid of its Drive Extender technology from Vail, much to the chagrin of its customers.

Microsoft announced it would axe Drive Extender – which supports multiple internal and external hard drives – earlier this week, prompting some user complaints.

A new beta of the product will be released – minus the Drive Extender tech – early next year, said Microsoft, which plans to push out the final code in the first half of 2011.

“You know it is not April 1st, right? For the average home users (the ones that I have suggested and who have bought Windows Home Server) this is the most effective feature of the product," grumbled someone with the handle staples1 on Microsoft’s Windows Home Server blog.

"If they need more space, they just buy a drive, stick it in, and follow the instructions, no resizing, no effort really needed... it works,”

Complainant Geoff Coupe added: “I'm sorry, but at the moment this strikes me as a slap in the face as a long-term WHS user. And the stretching of the facts is just breathtaking and worthy of spin doctors at their finest: If a drive fails, I can't just replace it and carry on?

“I'm stunned and disappointed. Time to look for another non-Microsoft solution, perhaps.”

Microsoft justified dropping the Drive Extender feature from Vail by saying that customer storage behaviour had changed.

“Today large hard drives of over 1TB are reasonably priced, and freely available. We are also seeing further expansion of hard drive sizes at a fast rate, where 2Tb drives and more are becoming easy accessible to small businesses.

"Since customers looking to buy Windows Home Server solutions [sic] from OEM's will now have the ability to include larger drives, this will reduce the need for Drive Extender functionality,” said Redmond’s Michael Leworthy.

“When weighing up the future direction of storage in the consumer and SMB market, the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs.”

The company said it is also ditching the feature in its SBS 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Server Essentials products.

But that decision has left many wondering why Microsoft, which defended its decision in a later blog post, is even bothering to continue to develop Vail, given what is clearly an odd withdrawal of the Drive Extender feature. ®

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