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  • Question

  • I'm wondering if internally there have been high level discussions surrounding the future of add-ins with the next incaranation of WHS (I'm talking about 2.0; not PP2).

    In particular:

    - is 100% compatibility of existing add-ins a priority (ie literally drop-in binary compatibility of an add-in today into WHS 2.0)

    - if not, is the goal to simply force a recompilation with potentially minor code changes to a new version of the interfaces.   Potentially not a big dea, but thereby requiring add-in developers to potentially maintain two different versions
    .
    - if not, will there be wholesale arechitetural changes, for example leveraging System.AddIn namespace (requires .Net 3.5).

    The reason is if there has alread been a stake in the ground set as to whether to go the pather of "compatibility trumps new features" versus "features trumps compatibility", it would be great to share it with the development community now, and give us some heads up, even with the caveat that such discussions / decisions may not be final.

    Ryan
    • Moved by Ken WarrenModerator Thursday, February 26, 2009 1:43 PM not a software question (Moved from Windows Home Server Software to Windows Home Server Add-Ins and Developer Information)
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 3:00 AM

All replies

  • ryan.rogers said:

    I'm wondering if internally there have been high level discussions surrounding the future of add-ins with the next incaranation of WHS (I'm talking about 2.0; not PP2).

    In particular:

    - is 100% compatibility of existing add-ins a priority (ie literally drop-in binary compatibility of an add-in today into WHS 2.0)

    - if not, is the goal to simply force a recompilation with potentially minor code changes to a new version of the interfaces.   Potentially not a big dea, but thereby requiring add-in developers to potentially maintain two different versions
    .
    - if not, will there be wholesale arechitetural changes, for example leveraging System.AddIn namespace (requires .Net 3.5).

    The reason is if there has alread been a stake in the ground set as to whether to go the pather of "compatibility trumps new features" versus "features trumps compatibility", it would be great to share it with the development community now, and give us some heads up, even with the caveat that such discussions / decisions may not be final.

    Ryan


    You won't get an answer from MS (NDA).  Any discussions they may or may not have had are confidential.  However, if you have an idea for WHS v2, you should post it on Connect.
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 3:35 AM
    Moderator
  • I wouldn't have a problem going under and being bound by an NDA, I've done it several times with MS in the past with various groups, to mutual benefit. 
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 4:23 AM
  • (moved to developers and add-ins forum)

    While any specific information about features or functionality in a hypothetical future version of Windows Home Server would, of course, be covered under the terms of my NDA with Microsoft, I don't think anyone will mind me saying that Microsfot has not disclosed anything specific in the area you're asking about yet. I'll be sure to ask the question when I have the opportunity, though.

    My personal expectation (and this is only speculation on my part) is that, becuase WHS is a fairly closed system, Microsoft will not hesitate to break existing add-ins if they need to in order to add new and important functionality.



    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 1:48 PM
    Moderator
  • I agree Ken.  I think that add-ins for WHS 2.0 are going to look completely different, and use the System.AddIn functionlaity of .Net 3.5.  However, that doesn't mean that they can't also continue to support old add-ins.  After all, existing interfaces could be maintained, and new interface versions added.  That's the power of using interface-based componentization.

    Putting on my wizards hat, my prediction is:

    - there will be a new add-in architecture for WHS 2.0 that uses System.AddIn (likely under the covers)
    - WHS 2.0 will be able to host either 1.0 or 2.0 add-ins
    - WHS 2.0 add-ins will support in-place update (since it's already in System.AddIn).  In the add-in manager, if a 1.0 add-in is selected, Update will be disabled and you will only be able to Remove it.
    - WHS 1.0 will not be able to host 2.0 add-ins

    Yeah it's a fairly specific prediction.  Let's see how it holds up! ;-)

    From a marketing perspective, "It's Gold, Jerry! Gold!".  You get your backwards compatibility, so vendors add-ins are instantly working on WHS 2.0.  An important feature...people won't upgrade w/o this!  On the other hand, vendors are unlikely to continue to develop their old add-ins, they'll put all new feature developement into the new 2.0 versions, as long as MS doesn't make the migration too painful.  This in turn will bring users of those components "along for the ride"; if they want these new features, they have to ugprade to WHS 2.0 to leverage the new versions, as WHS 1.0 can't.

    This approach literally lets you have your cake, and eat it too.

    Ryan
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 3:19 PM
  • I like your vision, except for one small wrinkle...

    Most "copies" of Windows Home Server are not sold to enthusiasts who are installing it on their own ahrdware, or to system builders. They are sold as part of a hardware/software bundle, i.e. the HP MediaSmart Server. The only upgrade path for that is likely to be a new server.

    <cynicism>In addition, there are a some relatively problematic add-ins out there. Forcing the creator to update the add-in for it to work at all is one way to get the add-in updated to be a little more robust or less invasive. And if the creator decides not to update the add-in, well that solves the problem in a different way, doesn't it?</cynicism>

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:26 PM
    Moderator
  • Yeah I was thinking the same thing.  It will be interesting to see what kind of upgrade path MS provides for somebody who wants to literally replace an existing WHS 1.0 box, if any.  Will the user have to completely reconfigure the add-ins and settings, users, shares, etc., and then manually copy the data?  I'd call that inconsistent with the overalL WHS vision, at best.  Or will there be an automated (if not slow) path whereby you can "clone" a WHS 1.0 server into a WHS 2.0 server, then you can just eBay or donate  your 1.0 box?  Or is MS expecting that people will actually want to run more than one WHS (which again I do not think is mainstream, or at all ideal, for the bulk of  users out there for which stuff has to remain brain-dead-simple).

    In short if you could take PP1 WHS 1.0 backups, and restore them into a shiny new 2.0 WHS, and almost everything got configured correctly, that would probably be sufficient.

    I don't expect to see anything though that automatically redeploys add-ins.  But if the add-ins are well written and storing all configuratino and application data in application folders, the reinstall effort should be trivial.

    Ryan

    Thursday, February 26, 2009 10:35 PM