ARGH: Here comes Windows Home Server 2.0 “basic” and “premium”

Microsoft’s mantra for its original Windows Home Server platform followed the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) philosophy but now the company seems eager to complicate things by releasing two versions of its next-gen home server operating system.

“It’s certainly something we’re contemplating” confirmed Steven Leonard Senior Product Manager for Windows Home Server during an interview with APC. “It’s pretty natural at Microsoft to have different offerings for different customer sets we’re definitely investigating this”.

Many users have been hoping since the lacklustre market response to Windows Vista’s many different editions that Microsoft would pare down this strategy in future operating system releases.

While Microsoft has previously raised the issue on its own Windows Home Server Team Blog in a post regarding the appropriate number of users that Windows Home Server should support in a “basic household and (a) more advanced household” (the current build permits only 10 user accounts) Leonard was far more focused on differentiating the builds by “features and functionality”.

“I don’t think it would come as too much of a surprise to think that there are some features and functionality that might be more interesting for a customer that’s really geared up for entertainment (compared to) a customer that’s just focused on the basics of backing up their PCs.”

Citing user feedback through Microsoft’s Connect program Leonard observed that  “when people send in suggestions they really run the gamut. (With) some of the features and functionality and technology they’re asking for when you look at the product today you’re not sure where it really fits. So it’s part of an investigation we’re doing to find out what’s important to customers. It’s a reasonable thing for us to be looking at.”

Whether the next full release of Windows Home Server arrives in the single one-size-fits-all build of the 1.0 release or in two fruity flavours it will be preceded by a free update likely to be called Power Pack 2 and circling in on a mid-2009 delivery.

“Ideally we want to be able to release a product every year around the same time” Leonard told APC. “We’d love to have an update for customers and OEMs we released Power Pack 1 in our summer and certainly within the same year timeframe you’ll see another (update).”

“The Power Pack 1 name was a slight departure from the Microsoft terminology where a lot of the time you hear things like Service Pack 1” Leonard explains. “We chose Power Pack 1 for a couple of reasons. One is that it wasn’t just a service pack. It had enhancements but we also added new features and functionality. And with consumers being our primary customers for Windows Home Server we wanted the name to be friendly.”

“The next update will likely be something similar. We’re going to be fixing some things and adding some features and functionality. It’ll be something similar to what you’ve seen so far (with Power Pack 1).”