locked
My Experience After 10 months RRS feed

  • Question

  • I'd like to lead off by saying that Windows Home Server has changed the way we think about our home network.  With 3 laptops, we previously worked/played in silos with personal, entertainment and business content all over the place.  Access to content had been reliant on one of us sharing it out, emailing it, etc. and was not always readily available because laptops as they are meant to be...are portable and not truly a reliable 24/7 device.  Windows Home Server has brought order to our lives and a piece of mind.  Thank you


    That said, I'd like to comment/question about a few things I have experienced with the current version and what I would like to see in the future.

     

    - DRM Transfer:  I think this is one of the biggest areas that Microsoft needs to invest in with Windows Home Server.  We download media from services such as Zune, CinemaNow and MovieLink from our laptops.  For example, we might download a movie to enjoy enroute to a vacation spot.  But you can imagine users wanting to permanently transfer that to WHS when they return and enjoy it on their big screen thru something like XBox 360.  There is no way of doing that now..and the only way to playback is for the original download Laptop to stream it.  Thats a real mess.  Are you working on a WHS solution for such basic scenarios?

     

    - Remote Access:  We are not able to use it.  In my U.S. locale, my ISP (Comcast) is blocking all the necessary TCP ports to successfully provide our external family access to photos/etc or for us to access information while we are in a remote location (vacation, school, etc).  My particular ISP does not offer an upgrade.  My understanding is that this is common for many ISPs without upgrading to a business class internet service...which adds 2-3 times the cost to the typical consumer service plan.  Are you working with ISPs to inform them of these issues and discussing how the ISP/Microsoft can perhaps offer consumers some sort of option to enable remote access?  As an alternate solution, is there anyway for you to add a Live SkyDrive connector to WHS and then be able to remotely access WHS shares from within Live SkyDrive?

     

    - Media Center:  We love Vista Media Center and often access it from our XBox 360.  However everytime we do we have to go to a particular laptop, make sure its on, launch Media Center before we can access it from XBox 360.  It would be great if Media Center was ported to Windows Home Server in some fashion.  We are not using the TV/DVR capabilities of Media Center.  Are there any thoughts of making Media Center part of WHS in the future..or at least serving up the UI and MC applications (such as CinemaNow, MovieLink, NetFlix, download/streaming services)?

     

    - Search: I know Microsoft is big on Search these days and I am a huge fan of Vista's built-in search capabilities.  When I installed WHS in our home I also took the time to move documents/media from our 3 laptops to Windows Home Server and also configured (the best I could) so the laptops would default to saving new documents to the users share on Windows Home Server.  So documents and other content have been steadily building up over the past 6 months.  The problem is that Search does not really integrate with WHS very nicely or at least it is not as consumer friendly as it should be.  Are there any thoughts of configuring the desktop search (Vista) when you install the WHS Connector so that consumers can by default search both their PC and WHS at the same time?  Also is there a way for Vista's search to take advantage of the indexing already performed on WHS?  I understand that Windows Search 4.0 Preview has been released...will we see WHS Search upgraded to 4.0?

     

    - Live Services: Its my understanding that future Windows OSs will have more ties with Windows Live Services.  Are there roadmaps to eventually integrate WHS with Live services too?


    Thanks for listening!!

    Friday, April 11, 2008 3:24 PM

Answers

  • John,

     

    Thanks for the great feedback.  I assume you meant "peace of mind" 

     

    -DRM Transfer - there are lots of different DRM strategies and solutions available in market today from a lot of different vendors.  Some allow "content portability" - some do not.  With Windows Home Server we took the tact of being "DRM Neutral" in that if the DRM solution from Vendor X allows you to either (a) move the license with the content or (b) register the home server as one of a set of X machines that can use the content - then it will work.  While the Windows Home Server team can try to influence various content owners and DRM solution providers, it is really up to consumers to understand the limitations or abilities of the given DRM solution they are buying into and vote with their wallets.  All that said, we will continue to try to improve the end-to-end scenarios where we believe we can help.

     

    - Remote Access - your suggestion has been input at http://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer by another user.  The home server team will be going through all of these suggestions in the next few months and determining a set of customer priorities and the feasability / engineering time required to get various new features / solutions implemented.  Keep pressuring your ISP to provide you the services other ISPs provide their customers.

     

    - Search - If you open the "Shared Folders on Server" shortcut on the desktop of a home computer on a computer running Windows Vista - the Search bar will be in the top right corner.  Enter a search term or phrase in here and it will search all of the Shared Folder content that the current user has Read or Full access rights to.   Please enter the suggestion for being able to search the PC and WHS at the same time from the Vista Start bar at http://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer

     

    - Live Services - the current version of Windows Home Server works with the Windows Live Domains service to provide the Dynamic DNS services for home servers.  The Windows Live Domain service uses the Windows Live ID to register a user for maintaining your own personalized ***.homeserver.com domain name.  Also, with the November, 2007 Windows Update, the team partnered with Go Daddy and now users get an SSL certificate for their ***.homeserver.com domain name with a 5 year expiration.  The team's roadmap is defined by the community and we would like people to submit suggestions through the Windows Home Server connect site and get other people to vote and rate the suggestions.  

     

    Please remember to search for existing suggestions prior to entering a "new one" to help avoid duplicate entries.

     

     

    Friday, April 11, 2008 4:11 PM
  •  John Cz wrote:

    Yes, at least here in S.Florida (Fort Lauderdale)...HTTPS (443) is blocked.  HTTP for sure.  But no issue with TCP Port 4125.  I'd love to learn what the actual policy is from Comcast on this. 

     

    She got back to me and suggested you contact abuse@comcast.net directly and ask specifically what ports are or are not blocked for residential accounts in your area. She also noted that she can access a WHS run by another MVP who also uses Comcast on a residential account. Unfortunately she does not know of a publicly accessible blocked ports list for Comcast.

    Saturday, April 12, 2008 10:28 AM

All replies

  • John,

     

    Thanks for the great feedback.  I assume you meant "peace of mind" 

     

    -DRM Transfer - there are lots of different DRM strategies and solutions available in market today from a lot of different vendors.  Some allow "content portability" - some do not.  With Windows Home Server we took the tact of being "DRM Neutral" in that if the DRM solution from Vendor X allows you to either (a) move the license with the content or (b) register the home server as one of a set of X machines that can use the content - then it will work.  While the Windows Home Server team can try to influence various content owners and DRM solution providers, it is really up to consumers to understand the limitations or abilities of the given DRM solution they are buying into and vote with their wallets.  All that said, we will continue to try to improve the end-to-end scenarios where we believe we can help.

     

    - Remote Access - your suggestion has been input at http://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer by another user.  The home server team will be going through all of these suggestions in the next few months and determining a set of customer priorities and the feasability / engineering time required to get various new features / solutions implemented.  Keep pressuring your ISP to provide you the services other ISPs provide their customers.

     

    - Search - If you open the "Shared Folders on Server" shortcut on the desktop of a home computer on a computer running Windows Vista - the Search bar will be in the top right corner.  Enter a search term or phrase in here and it will search all of the Shared Folder content that the current user has Read or Full access rights to.   Please enter the suggestion for being able to search the PC and WHS at the same time from the Vista Start bar at http://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer

     

    - Live Services - the current version of Windows Home Server works with the Windows Live Domains service to provide the Dynamic DNS services for home servers.  The Windows Live Domain service uses the Windows Live ID to register a user for maintaining your own personalized ***.homeserver.com domain name.  Also, with the November, 2007 Windows Update, the team partnered with Go Daddy and now users get an SSL certificate for their ***.homeserver.com domain name with a 5 year expiration.  The team's roadmap is defined by the community and we would like people to submit suggestions through the Windows Home Server connect site and get other people to vote and rate the suggestions.  

     

    Please remember to search for existing suggestions prior to entering a "new one" to help avoid duplicate entries.

     

     

    Friday, April 11, 2008 4:11 PM
  • Todd, thanks for such a great response....and yes, peace!  I guess i had  on my mind.

     

    Speaking of "DRM Transfer" or as you more accurate refer to as "Content Portability", perhaps some of what I am experiencing is just a fact with a relatively new product such as WHS.  I am aware of content portability approaches as you indicate.  Zune for example allows for X machines to be registered as does CinemaNow.  I don't use it, but I believe Media Center DVR is locked to one machine or there may cases (HD protected content) where thats true.

     

    Getting back to WHS.  I assume at some stage we'll start to see brands such as Zune and CinemaNow offer some sort of WHS Add-in to register and communicate with the respective licensing servers (to renew, etc).  My followup question, if that becomes available...could I generally expect Windows Media Connect to then be able to stream DRM'd content (assuming supported file format)?

    Friday, April 11, 2008 5:07 PM
  • - Remote Access:  We are not able to use it.  In my U.S. locale, my ISP (Comcast) is blocking all the necessary TCP ports to successfully provide our external family access to photos/etc or for us to access information while we are in a remote location (vacation, school, etc). 

     

    Are you sure about that? The reason I ask is that there is another MVP who is rather high up in the Comcast pecking order and I remember her saying Comcast does not block those ports. Now its possible I misremembered or that Comcast blocks TCP Port 80 (IIS), as does my ISP Cox HSI, but you should still be able to get using TCP Port 443 (SSL) and TCP Port 4125 (the RDC proxy). I will check with her again and report back.

    Friday, April 11, 2008 5:55 PM
  •  John Cz wrote:

     

    - DRM Transfer:  I think this is one of the biggest areas that Microsoft needs to invest in with Windows Home Server.  We download media from services such as Zune, CinemaNow and MovieLink from our laptops.  For example, we might download a movie to enjoy enroute to a vacation spot.  But you can imagine users wanting to permanently transfer that to WHS when they return and enjoy it on their big screen thru something like XBox 360.  There is no way of doing that now..and the only way to playback is for the original download Laptop to stream it.  Thats a real mess.  Are you working on a WHS solution for such basic scenarios?

     

     

    - Media Center:  We love Vista Media Center and often access it from our XBox 360.  However everytime we do we have to go to a particular laptop, make sure its on, launch Media Center before we can access it from XBox 360.  It would be great if Media Center was ported to Windows Home Server in some fashion.  We are not using the TV/DVR capabilities of Media Center.  Are there any thoughts of making Media Center part of WHS in the future..or at least serving up the UI and MC applications (such as CinemaNow, MovieLink, NetFlix, download/streaming services)?

     

     


    Thanks for listening!!

     

    On the subject of DRM.
    If you have Media Center and you record a TV show or movie with DRM and you move that recorded DRM TV file (DVR_MS) to WHS, you will still be able to play that DRM recording from the same PC that did the ordinal recording even though the recorded TV file resides on WHS.
    Friday, April 11, 2008 6:17 PM
  • Richard, what happens when you want to replace that "recording" PC with a new one?  can you playback those previously recorded content from the replacement PC?  I'm not sure you can. In my home, it would be much more convenient for 24x7 WHS to stream that content to PCs or Extenders than to fire up the correct laptop which recorded the show. 

     

    Going back to what Ken said previously...consumers need to be aware of content portability limitations and basically vote with your wallet.  From what I've learned sofar, it seems the easiest approach in a WHS network would be to use services that allow you to register X machines (including WHS) to have playback access.  Whats missing for that..WHS Add-ins from vendors like CinemaNow and Zune that communicate with their backend licensing servers for renewal/verification.  Am I over simplifying this?

    Friday, April 11, 2008 6:37 PM
  •  Al Jarvi wrote:

    Are you sure about that? The reason I ask is that there is another MVP who is rather high up in the Comcast pecking order and I remember her saying Comcast does not block those ports. Now its possible I misremembered or that Comcast blocks TCP Port 80 (IIS), as does my ISP Cox HSI, but you should still be able to get using TCP Port 443 (SSL) and TCP Port 4125 (the RDC proxy). I will check with her again and report back.

     

    Yes, at least here in S.Florida (Fort Lauderdale)...HTTPS (443) is blocked.  HTTP for sure.  But no issue with TCP Port 4125.  I'd love to learn what the actual policy is from Comcast on this. 

    Friday, April 11, 2008 6:55 PM
  •  John Cz wrote:
     Al Jarvi wrote:

    Are you sure about that? The reason I ask is that there is another MVP who is rather high up in the Comcast pecking order and I remember her saying Comcast does not block those ports. Now its possible I misremembered or that Comcast blocks TCP Port 80 (IIS), as does my ISP Cox HSI, but you should still be able to get using TCP Port 443 (SSL) and TCP Port 4125 (the RDC proxy). I will check with her again and report back.

     

    Yes, at least here in S.Florida (Fort Lauderdale)...HTTPS (443) is blocked.  HTTP for sure.  But no issue with TCP Port 4125.  I'd love to learn what the actual policy is from Comcast on this. 

     

    I am not speaking about Comcast specifically, however this discussion came up a while ago and it turned out that for whichever company was being discussed (I don't remember now which one it was), different areas had different policies within the same organization (for example, Comcast may allow it in New York, but not Florida).  You will really need to find out from your local office what the policies are.

    Saturday, April 12, 2008 1:18 AM
    Moderator
  •  John Cz wrote:

    Yes, at least here in S.Florida (Fort Lauderdale)...HTTPS (443) is blocked.  HTTP for sure.  But no issue with TCP Port 4125.  I'd love to learn what the actual policy is from Comcast on this. 

     

    She got back to me and suggested you contact abuse@comcast.net directly and ask specifically what ports are or are not blocked for residential accounts in your area. She also noted that she can access a WHS run by another MVP who also uses Comcast on a residential account. Unfortunately she does not know of a publicly accessible blocked ports list for Comcast.

    Saturday, April 12, 2008 10:28 AM
  • I live in the Denver area and Remote Access works great with Comcast here. Homeserver has made adminstrating the four PCs in our home a breeze. Great product, well worth the investment.

    Saturday, April 12, 2008 1:35 PM
  • Al, Comcast doesn't block any ports in my area (Chester County, PA). However, Comcast is not truly a single large company; they became a national cable provider by acquiring/consolidating with smaller cable providers all over the country, and it's my understanding that there are still traces of those companies left behind inside Comcast.

    So it's very possible that Comcast in Arizona, for example, does block some/all ports, even though they don't in my area.
    Saturday, April 12, 2008 5:16 PM
    Moderator
  • I did a little looking on this and though Verizon informed me that they absolutely blocked incoming requests on 80, 8080, 443, and 8443 they were wrong.  They do not block it at the ISP level though they assured me that it was absolutely impossible to serve content to the web without a static IP address.  The moral of the story is that yes, they do block these ports by default but not at the ISP level but at the router level.  Check your settings in your router usually under the advanced settings and remote administration.  Hope this helps, and best of luck.
    Friday, April 18, 2008 1:43 AM
  • I have Comcast and they are not blocking anything.

     

    My remote access works fine and always has and I do not have Business class.

     

    I can access remotely, and anyone I give my password to can access WHS.

     

     

    Bob

    Friday, April 18, 2008 2:56 AM