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Servers in the home remain scarce
Written by Daniel   
Tuesday, 22 July 2008 11:27

With its first update to Windows Home Server, Microsoft has fixed a critical bug that threatened to undermine the product's main utility--securely and reliably backing up computer files. 

July 22, 2008 4:00 AM PDT
Posted by Ina Fried

But the software maker still has to find an answer to the bigger problem--many consumers have no idea what a server is and fewer still have any reason to think they would want one in their home. Microsoft knew it would face this challenge even before Bill Gates announced the product at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show. It even tried to make light of the issue, penning a fake children's book dubbed "Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House?"


Unfortunately, the child's question is still a prescient one. For many who need to back up their files, network-attached hard drives offer a less costly and intricate answer to installing even a simplified Windows Server. As a result, the product has proved to be a tough sell.

"This is a very difficult product category to be selling," said Forrester Research analyst J.P. Gownder. "Consumers, generally speaking, don't know what a home server is."

Microsoft insists that its sales, as of June, remained ahead of internal targets, though it won't give any specifics. Home Server marketing executive Steven VanRoekel told CNET News in January that as of that point, the product's sales had reached the tens of thousands. It's not clear whether they have advanced far, if at all, into the next order of magnitude.

IDC is projecting that home servers, including those running Linux, will only add up to 78,000 devices this year. "We have it growing fairly modestly," said IDC analyst Richard Shim, noting that IDC is forecasting the home server category will only get to 1.1 million devices by 2012.

Microsoft has also failed to get much excitement from within the industry over its approach to home servers. The only big-name U.S. computer maker that uses the operating system is Hewlett-Packard, which sells the MediaSmart server.

Retailers have had a tough time trying to come up with a sales pitch that works in-store. As a result, the product is mostly sold online.

"It's basically Circuit City and online," said Forrester's Gownder. "You are not seeing it on store shelves."   [C/Net News...]   [Comments...]

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