locked
Comments on the average user and MHS RRS feed

  • Question

  • Discussion welcome on this...

    I'm a techie with 30 years in the business. As a real world test I had two people install and set up the Home Server.

    The first was my wife who does four computer things well:
    Word
    Excel
    E-mail
    Push the Power On button

    The second was a 45 year old hard-core gamer who's computer skills are limited to putting in the CD and waiting for something to happen.

    Both very typical PC users and both familar to most of us because we seem to be their personal help desk.
    Both were lost and frustrated inside 5 minutes. The fact that MHS defaulted to a workgroup name that probably has nothing to do with what's really out there was a big stumper. The documentation (please tell me it's not the final version) didn't hold their hand at all.

    I realize the average buyer will purchase a NAS with everything installed but setting up accounts could be a deal breaker if my experience with these two is any indication of the real world out there.

    I'm not bitching - this is a great product and I think it'll sell like hotcakes but is it SIMPLE enough? We techies gotta remember there's a whole bunch of other people out there who look at a computer like a light switch. Turn it on and it works. Sure, we'd like a lot more knobs to twist and settings to play with but we are not the intended audience. My wife and the gamer are.

    I've beta tested for years and realize what you test is never the final product and is full of bugs by definition. But comments in the forum seem to indicate a lot of the software is locked in. In a few areas MHS strikes me as closer to late Alfa instead of late Beta.

    Am I off base?

    Monday, March 12, 2007 11:45 PM

All replies

  •  Courtney123 wrote:
    Am I off base?
    Maybe a little. I don't think your test was valid. Neither of your test subjects was the sort of person who would normally want to install Windows Home Server (Note: not Microsoft Home Server). They would probably love to use it, however.

    A better test would have been to install WHS on your test hardware, with no extra configuration at all, disconnect the KVM, and turn them loose with the Reviewer's Guide. That's the format in which they would be likely to encounter WHS. You might still have to help with a couple of technical areas that aren't well-documented or need a better (or any!) interface, but I bet they'd have had a much better experience overall.
    Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:44 AM
    Moderator
  • Agreed.  I hate to be in the beta testing position, and adding new things to make it harder on the end user.

    Here's my testing process for WHS.

    Experiment 1 - Mother, uses excel, knows basic information (spyware, some macros, email, firewall concept, router, and modem, BASIC lan usage)

    I set up a server for her to use, and she went through the install process with me.  At this point, she kept with me, but had difficulties understanding WHY she needed a user and password (she just had one user on the computer; XP home)

    After I had it setup, she attempted to connect.  Failure!  Apparently, she had forgotten how to log in.  I told her, and had her try some streaming media, and that was another disaster.  Windows media player (at that time) was not accepting external data packets due to a firewall she had setup.  Past these, she did pretty well doing simple tasks, but on her own, she ran into LOTS of problems - remote client, etc etc.  I agree, it was much to simple for her to keep up with.

    Experiment 2 - Computer/Electrical Engineer Student @ Purdue, knows basic C++, hard drive basics (partitions, but not RAID), knows what streaming media is, how it works, and how networking works (decently).

    He had a much better time.  He was able to set up the server with a few difficulties, but he still had trouble getting his wireless internet card to connect.  After we set up the server, he could use the interface intuivatly, but had some issues with not having options to acually "see" the screen.  (I showed him how to set up the WHS console screen, and he was ok with that). The same problem was with my mother.  The major problem was in installing new hardware.  He added a new HDD to the system, and immediatly the system came up with a "hardware configuration error".  He had not plugged in the correct jumpers to the hard drive - motherboard.  All in all, once he was going, it went alright, but there were problems that he had with some of the more "generic" errors.  (if its too generic of a problem, solutions are numerous, and hard to figure out)

    In conclusion, I still would push for more bells and whistles, just PLEASE make sure they are an OPTION (add a options/tools area?) for the user, and do much of it in the background.  I realize it is still in beta form, but looking from my user's experiments, it could turn into a pain in the rear for many home users who just use their computers to check their yahoo, use media,  and write an occasional word doc.

    -Aaron
    Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:50 AM
  • Ken -

    >>Neither of your test subjects was the sort of person who would normally want to install Windows Home Server

    You're correct but I should have been more clear. I didn't expect them to install it because it would come pre-installed on the box - if they bought it. But, the first time they run this MHS box it's going to ask for a login ID/password and go through many of the same gyrations we're dealing with by installing the software on our own box.

    I was with them and walked them through the initial steps - up to the point where I figured this is the point they would have to deal with on their own if it was pre-installed on a computer they bought.

    While the "test" wasn't perfect, I believe the problems and confusion still hold true.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:43 AM
  • Aaron -

    MS had determined its target audience for this product, and I think it is correct. But as someone who gets numerous calls a week from "friends" asking the simpliest questions about their computers, there are issues about connectivity, access, permissions, etc that's going to throw some people for a loop. Maybe a lot of people.

    I'm not sure whether more bells and whistles are the answer since we all know you give people more buttons to push - they will. Then we get more phone calls...

    To many people a server is a place to get their document they are working on and a place to save it when done. It's drive "M" or whatever. The concept and execution may frustrate the average user. Again - the average user. We tend to forget the frustration and technical level of the average user. If I wanted e-mail and bells and whistles I'd buy Sever 2003 but that's not who this product is tageted for.

    My concerns may have been addressed several builds ago but there's no way to tell because MS is too busy trying to make this work to update the beta testers on what the overall picture is and have said that there probably won't be a beta update released until a release Candidate. Regardless - the misnaming of work groups is going to be a BIG problem unless that's swatted before it goes out the door.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:54 AM
  • Yep.  I agree.  Many people would rather their "server" be a giant pool of folders, and act like a RAID array (except without the configuration).  Possibly have some connectivity to web and wireless, but other than that, I'm not sure what my clients would want out of a home server.

    As for my experiments, I took my mom (MS target user) and my brother (MS "higher" user).
    The target user had several issues, but I was able to take her through it with baby steps.  The "higher" user had issues, but was much more intune with the interfaces and ideas behind a server.

    I would like to see a simplier concept, but I also would like to see MS recognize that a cheap server system *will* be used by "higher" (not techie, but the grey area) people who don't want SBS because of price or usibility, but also want a server to backup information and to store media. 

    My 5 or so cents worth :D
    Tuesday, March 13, 2007 3:37 AM
  • >>As for my experiments, I took my mom (MS target user) and my brother (MS "higher" user).
    The target user had several issues, but I was able to take her through it with baby steps.  The "higher" user had issues, but was much more intune with the interfaces and ideas behind a server.


    I rest my case :-)

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007 7:21 AM
  • Hi

      Just adding to the discussion, I see ware the tests have all been good and bad. I agree that some additional questions will need to be added during the start up faze of the server if it is indeed gotten on a new box. Having everyone on the planet WHS named server isn't going to help but it will help on the tech calls. If you keep the renaming out of it you can see that one answer can correct many problems.

      Though the additing of users, thats going to be a trick, everyone I have worked with uses either one user on the computer or had someone else (like me) set up the user. I hope that will be addresed in the connector disk installation, that way you don't have to do anything on the server just run the connector disk for things.

      I think if you give the home user the box, preconfigured, with the connector disk. Betting on the connector disk having all the right wizards to confiugre a user and accounts will be a snap. Just like doing your taxes on-line. Ask a question, make the user answer and take action as appropriate. Affective use of the connector disk to do other tasks will also help the user because they can have a "put the disk in and wait for something to happen" experance. Choose what you want to do and the wizard walks you though getting it done. Helps us maintain a standard of how things are done, keeps the user from getting into the box at all, and me as an IT Helpdesk person has a place to start for question and anwer on what they have or have not done.

      I hope microsoft wouldn't be selling the server software and hopping for users to install. If you want to do that you already have the server.

    Thanks for listening

     

    Tony

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007 2:37 AM
  • Thanks Tony. If anyone knows how it is - you sure do. The rumor is MS will also sell MHS as a software product for those who already have a box, but it would be OEM only - so no tech support. Just a rumor...

    Courtney

    Friday, March 16, 2007 1:42 AM
  •  Tonytoy100 wrote:

      I think if you give the home user the box, preconfigured, with the connector disk. Betting on the connector disk having all the right wizards to confiugre a user and accounts will be a snap. Just like doing your taxes on-line. Ask a question, make the user answer and take action as appropriate. Affective use of the connector disk to do other tasks will also help the user because they can have a "put the disk in and wait for something to happen" experance. Choose what you want to do and the wizard walks you though getting it done. Helps us maintain a standard of how things are done, keeps the user from getting into the box at all, and me as an IT Helpdesk person has a place to start for question and anwer on what they have or have not done.

      I hope microsoft wouldn't be selling the server software and hopping for users to install. If you want to do that you already have the server.

    Thanks for listening

     

    Tony

    Microsoft to date has indicated they will be selling WHS in two ways.

    a) Already pre-installed on hardware and ready to plug into the wall and your network out of the box. The only install home users will see is the installing of the client software.

    b) The enthusiast OEM market as software alone, where you expect the buyer to be tech savvy.

    Given that those are the only two options for WHS, I think the testing methodology was flawed. A better test would be:

    1) put together hardware to run WHS on.

    2) install the WHS server and set the administrator password.

    3) unplug the server and take it to the testers home.

    4) start the tester from plugging in the server to their network and then installing the software.

    As it stands, there is the possibility that the WHS connector will need help in determining the correct workgroup name on setup, but other than that and the printer configuration it is reasonably simple to use. I'm disregarding the need for documentation at this point in time as the production of that is certian.

    Friday, March 16, 2007 6:38 AM
  • Well I am an enthusiast and I sure hope they sell it as an OEM package. I have never worked with Server software and initially had a few issues.

    1) could not connect to server because I changed from the default Workgroup to match in with my work group and the connecter did not find it.

    2) Remote access It took a bit of reading but I finally have it done and my family which practically lives all over the world have logged into my server last night and was downloading the latest pics.

    3) I still cant access remote terminal from my work PC I think that my work firewall is blocking port 80. I still need to find out how to change this so it can bypass the firewall rules ;-}

    4) There should be a choice when starting up server for the first time and configuring it. An advanced options with all the bells and whistles that allow people to add remove functionality for the ones that like to play.

    And the basic idiots guide.

    For instance

    Step 1) connect hardware t

    Step2) Please provide your password

    step3) Provide your server with a name

    step 4) add users and as each user is created it should be a step by step process with good explanation of what each setting mean.

    And a good step by step manual for all features.

     

    I am not IT trained but I definatly have an apitite for all things PC wise and every step is a learning process.

    I am a bit disapointed that it doesnt have mail support hopefully that will be included in RTM.

    At present all it is is a bigggggg media/backup storage box but maybe that is all it was ever ment to be

    Quote: If you can read you can Cook!

     

     

    Saturday, March 17, 2007 12:14 PM
  • I work on a help desk for a major US ISP.

    In my experience I agree that the 'average' user will need some form of assistance. You are definitely not off base.

    During my own install I had to rename the default workgroup name to my own.

    Although I would expect most peer to peer networks probably use the default anyway.

    As well I had duplicate users on separate machines with the same passwords requiring a change to a single log on user name and password.

    Andy

    Sunday, March 18, 2007 8:13 AM
  • I'm not sure that Mom and Pop are the target audience for WHS. I believe they are looking for the professional couple, people that work with and have some reasonable understanding of computers and have a need to reliably network their machines have have the server do some basic functions.

    My question is backup, streaming photos, music and video's enough?

    I have my doubts. As a professional IT manager, something like WHS really interests me, but honestly, the way it's presented right now, I don't quite see the market.

    However, there are some basic additional functions that WHS *could* do that I believe would make it more attractive to even the mom and pop family's.

    1. Unitifed Security Center. From the WHS console I should be able to check the Virus status, Firewall status and the Windows update status of all attached computers. WHS should tell me if there are any problems, if so what and make suggestions on how to fix them. An advanced feature should tell me what new software was installed on any of the attached computers (this could be enabled via Vista giving family's even more reason to upgrade) as well as on demand Internet action logs.

    2. Unified Reliablity Center. Windows Vista has a Reliabilty center which attempts to diagnose problems and keep your system running at it's peek. WHS should monitor this for all connected system and present a report of the Family Network health. That way, Dad (the adminstrator) can see that Mom's computer is not running well long before she complains about it. In a perfect world, WHS would even tell Dad how best to fix it (or point out where the problem first occurred).

    3. Perhaps WHS already does this, but I should be able to restore a image backup to any attached system even in safe mode remotely.

    4. WHS should support drive mirroring. WHS encourages people to put software, photos, music, etc. on the server (or at least that is what is going to happen). WHS should make it easy for a family to put in a 2nd drive of equal or greater capacity and allow the administrator to easily set up a drive mirror.

    5. WHS should offer the ability to comb the networked systems and allow the admistrator to perform some basic maintenace functions that users don't always do themselves. For example, set up disk defragmentation as a task (Vista already does this), look for and remove temporary files, perform windows updates.

    In short, the things that I see selling WHS are not just automated backup, while nice and a great first step, isn't enough. WHS needs to help the person in the family that manages the 2-5 attached pc's manually with the necessary tasks of keeping the network running efficently.

    I just don't think automated backup alone is going to sell this system to Mr. & Mrs. Professional alone. Yes, some are going to buy it and the home enthusist is going to buy it - but I don't think it's going to sell nearly as well as MS thinks it will.

    JMO

     

     

     

     

    Sunday, March 18, 2007 10:58 PM
  • >>>Although I would expect most peer to peer networks probably use the default anyway.

     

    Andy -

    There lies one of the major problems. In most home systems the default is MSHOME.

    Courtney

    Monday, March 19, 2007 7:13 AM
  • Maybe an option when discovery is done that you can enter in your Workgroup or have the option to auto discovery only problem is if person has XP_Home and XP_Pro computers mixed maybe there should be a default set in place where the connecter will automatically change this to default group should person not wish to enter a different workgroup name. I definately think the connecter software needs a lot of improovement.

    One other issue I found was when changing the server name and running the discovery again that the shortcut to share folders dont work anymore and that should be added to the discovery process rather than the connecter install as this is most likely one of the the parts of the installer that that will be used the most. Or when installing the Connecter also choose a name for your server so therefore making it more individual and more automated.

    Await your comments on this

    Monday, March 19, 2007 10:52 PM
  • Gedrog -

    I agree with the option to enter the workgroup name, but many people I know have no idea what it is or where to find the current name of their workgroup. We have to go back to the base group that will purchase MHS. The docs need to be clear on how to find out what your network workgroup name is or a wizard to walk them through it. Or the simple thing is have the install poll the name of the current workgroup and use it. If there's three PCs with different workgroup names, they have no network anyway.

    As for changing the server name - probably a non-issue for the target audience. People like us who like to fiddle with everything are not the target audience. While naming my server something other than "server" is fun, I suspect the average user probably won't care but rather be impressed that have a real "server" on their network.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007 3:04 AM
  •  Courtney123 wrote:

    Gedrog -

    I agree with the option to enter the workgroup name, but many people I know have no idea what it is or where to find the current name of their workgroup. We have to go back to the base group that will purchase MHS. The docs need to be clear on how to find out what your network workgroup name is or a wizard to walk them through it. Or the simple thing is have the install poll the name of the current workgroup and use it. If there's three PCs with different workgroup names, they have no network anyway.

    As for changing the server name - probably a non-issue for the target audience. People like us who like to fiddle with everything are not the target audience. While naming my server something other than "server" is fun, I suspect the average user probably won't care but rather be impressed that have a real "server" on their network.



    While I agree workgroup names may be a little hard to tackle, I think the server name should be visible and able to be changed by the user, simply for the fact that I believe it would make it easier for the end user to remember and find when they want to use the server.  Besides, a little personalization never hurt anyone, if anything, helps them feel more attached...
    Tuesday, March 20, 2007 3:16 AM
  • I agree that a little personalization never hurt anyone. That was the main reason I changed my server name. My secondary reason was for security. Whenever I set up new hardware or software similar to this, the first thing I do is change the default user name and password. Not that such things are hard to find out with the right tools, but just one more step a hacker may have to take to break into your system.


    Tuesday, March 20, 2007 7:48 AM
  • I bow to both of you - on reflection you are right. Mostly for the security concerns :-)
    Tuesday, March 20, 2007 10:51 PM
  •  Courtney123 wrote:

    Gedrog -

    I agree with the option to enter the workgroup name, but many people I know have no idea what it is or where to find the current name of their workgroup. We have to go back to the base group that will purchase MHS. The docs need to be clear on how to find out what your network workgroup name is or a wizard to walk them through it. Or the simple thing is have the install poll the name of the current workgroup and use it. If there's three PCs with different workgroup names, they have no network anyway.

    As for changing the server name - probably a non-issue for the target audience. People like us who like to fiddle with everything are not the target audience. While naming my server something other than "server" is fun, I suspect the average user probably won't care but rather be impressed that have a real "server" on their network.

     

    I agree with you that at the end of the day " Jo Bloggs" will just be happy to hit an install button for connecter software and it automatically does everything needed to get your PC connected to server and set up.

    But as I said there should be an advanced tab for the user such as me and you who would like to have more that just the typical settings ect.

     

    At present its a nice to have and not realy a must have for me unless more added extras is added on. But this is not what this post is about.

     

    I have now successfully got two other friends running the homeserver software.

    And they both dont have much of a clue as long as it works attitude and with a bit of remote assistance got their servers up and running. 

    They both had old spare pc's lying about. And they wanted to experience it for themselves after I gave them a demo of the server. I suspect IT help desks will be very busy going on the experience I had with these two friends. That is why the connecter software needs more development to make it more idiot proof.

    Nuff said.

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 3:50 AM