Here’s a review of a beta release of Microsoft Windows Home Server, which continues to look like a genuinely exciting advance for home computing. Here are my earlier thoughts on the preview at the Consumer Electronics show last month.

When it is final, most of us will see it preloaded on separate, dedicated devices; there will also be a software-only version for people who want to build their own boxes. The devices will be surprisingly small, and all signs are good for them to be extremely easy to use and remarkably useful. Here’s the overview from PC Magazine:

“This week, Microsoft unveiled beta 2 of Windows Home Server (WHS), the company’s effort to improve and simplify the computing and digital-media experience for the increasing proportion of households that have broadband connections and multiple PCs or PC-like devices such as XBox gaming consoles.

“With features like centralized storage and media sharing, automated data backup, and easy remote access, WHS provides the capabilities that Microsoft envisions will serve as the centerpiece of wired—or, increasingly, wireless—homes, connecting individual PCs running Windows XP and Windows Vista into a seamless network that requires minimum effort and expertise to configure and manage. . . . It holds the potential to change the game for home computing, bringing us closer to the vision of making all our data accessible anywhere, anytime.”

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