Windows Home Server CTP (Build 1371) has been released to the general public beta community! If you're not on the beta, apply here:
You will need a spare machine with at least a 1 Gig CPU, 512 Meg of RAM and a minimum 80 Gig hard disk (preferably larger and more than one disk) to run the beta.
In the CTP release, build 1371, you're offered the opporunity during installation to give your server a unique name. In Beta 2, you were stuck with "SERVER". This could be changed by using Remote Desktop to connect to the server, but now you can change the default name during installation/setup.
There are some improvments and changes. Some of the most notable changes are visible when you first open the WHS Console. Now there is a Status bar at the bottom. it shows the status of the "balancing" that WHS does to distribute your data across multiple disks, and it will show you if someone is logged on via Remote Access. And in the Computers & Backups tab, there is now an option to Remove Computer. This could be useful if you sell or give away one of your PC's, or one of your kids goes off to school and takes their laptop with them. Since Windows Home Server will soon warn you about that computer not being backed up, its nice to be able to remove it.
Everything else in the main part of the Console looks pretty much the same. But, there are some new things under Settings. In the Passwords section, you can now set the "complexity" requirement.
The options are:
1) Any password, even a single character (but not blank)
2) A minimum of 5 characters, with no special characters required
3) 7 or more characters, with complexity (Upper and lower case, with at least 1 number and/or special character).
However, these requirements really only apply to Shared Folders, from inside your LAN. For Remote Access, each user must have a complex password.
Under the Remote Access settings, you can turn the Remote Access web sites, on or off, making them inaccessible to the outside world whenever you wish. There is also a new feature, that allows you to configure a domain name for your Windows Home Server, so you can access it more easily from the Internet, particularly if you have a dynamic IP address that can change unexpectedly. For now, the primary domain is livenode.com. Your Home Server address would be something like jonesfamily.livenode.com. It is expected that when Windows Home Server is commercially available, the primary domain will change to homeserver.com.
Another feature is Router Configuration. If you have a UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) router, Windows Home Server can attempt to automatically configure it to allow for Remote Access. This means you don't have to be a geek to set it up. Click the button and away it goes!
You can now specify whether you see the "banner" page, with the picture of the guy at the beach and the logon button, or go straight to the logon page. And you can change the title text of the banner page to something other than Windows Home Server.
Another new addition is Add-ins. This section will allow OEM (Other Equipment Manufacturers) and developers to create additional tabs for the Windows Home Server Console. This opens up possibilities for the OEM's to install 3rd party software such as photo processing, digital media tools and others. It could also be used to expose some more of the information about the Windows Home Server, and allow users to do more with out having to use Remote Desktop to get into the Windows Home Server machine.
Other than that, its pretty much the same. The Connector software is still easy to setup and the Windows Home Server is still very easy to configure. And it does what its supposed to do. Allow you to Share and Store your photos, videos and files, and Protect the data on all your home computers. After all, that's the slogan for Windows Home Server, "Share, Store and Protect"!