CES – Microsoft Home Server
This is a great product idea, if properly executed. I consider myself a “tech power user” and I already have a home server setup where I mirror backups across multiple computers and stream media to my Xbox 360. This Christmas I wanted to add 500 GB to my home network and the deciding feature on my list was the ability to stream to the Xbox 360. I couldn’t find something to do it that was easily available at the local electronics store — next year my story might be different.
Removable media (CD-R / DVD-R) is more hassle than it’s worth for backups. It takes approximately 10 minutes a disc to restore from a backup. I deal with a lot of digital media (music, movie/tv, photography, comic scans) and if I have a system wipe out I’m looking at DAYS (if not WEEKS) to restore everything from disc. I’m not going to. I had a 60 GB drive with music fail in 2000 and I still haven’t restored from backup. Hard drives are cheap and it is far more time effective to mirror to another drive over a network. It’s logical to think we’ll eventually be doing it over the internet.
With the Microsoft Home Server adoption it’s going to be all about the price point and Xbox 360 integration. If it’s comparable to what it would cost me to buy a PC of my own then I would buy it for the form-factor alone. If it can handle things like printer sharing, running an FTP/Web site, and Xbox 360 connectivity then it is going to be an easy sell. Like anyone who has seen Microsoft’s track record I have security concerns, but they’ve done a good job with the 360 — as long as they limit what can be done with the Home Server they’ll be fine.
Microsoft has a huge opportunity with the sales of the 360 over the past year. The 360 has already become a strong competitor for video-on-demand (with television and movies on demand available), giving Microsoft a channel into home entertainment. If they have seamless integration between the Home Server and the Xbox 360, then they are a shoe-in to convert the existing Xbox 360 user base into Home Server sales.