Windows Home Server

Certificate signing isn’t a perfect answer for untrusted code, but it does give the user another indication that your Add-In will do what it says on the tin. More importantly, not signing your code when the installer framework expects a certificate isn’t a great way to make a first impression. Not cool. Previously, we talked about automating builds of our Add-In’s installers and the parent *.wssx add-in package file, and my strategy for automatically building packages that support in-place upgrades. Now we’re going to talk about signing our *.wssx package with a certificate, specifically a...

The Windows Server Solutions SDK gives us some great new functionality for deploying Add-In packages: A proper upgrade process Signing Client installers that can be automatically applied to any joined PCs EULA support Localization support But, because there’s no such thing as a free lunch, the new functions come with added complexity. As I’ve discussed previously, in order for your Add-In to support in-place upgrades there are a bunch of properties that need to be changed...

A few weeks ago I posted recommendations for structuring your WSSX cabinet files and installer packages. I also promised to post some magic automation techniques to make building *.wssx files much, much easier. The magic part is coming in the next post, because we still need to cover some foundations properly! To that end, I’ve put together a custom Visual Studio 2010 project type that allows you to manage your *.wssx build process in the same way you manage every other project in your solution. It’s now up on the Visual Studio Gallery for download as an...

The Windows Home Server v1 extensibility framework missed out an important component; Microsoft implemented no upgrade capability for already-installed Add-Ins. The “upgrade” process required that the user uninstall the old version of your Add-In, and then install the new version. If your installer wasn’t checking for existing versions of your Add-In users could easily find themselves with multiple instances your Add-In installed, with no way to remove them without manual registry editing. Windows Home Server 2011 (and the other platforms that support the Windows Server Solutions SDK) now support Add-In upgrades properly. A user can now download...

Our beta testing is complete, and we’re ready to send Feedsource for Windows Home Server out into the wild! What is Feedsource? Feedsource is a Windows Home Server Add-In that publishes secure Really Simple Syndication (“RSS”) feeds for Shared Folders through the Remote Access web site. Authorized users access Feedsource RSS feeds from inside or outside the home network to view new and changed files in Shared Folders using any RSS reader that supports authenticated feeds. Features Authenticated RSS feeds for Shared Folders that show create, delete, rename, and change events for...

A couple of weeks ago I hinted that we had an unannounced Windows Home Server Add-In in development. It’s time to let this particular cat out of this particular bag, and start a new closed beta. Feedsource for Windows Home Server is an Add-In that publishes authenticated Really Simple Syndication (“RSS”) feeds for your Shared Folders through the Remote Access web site. Authorized users access Feedsource RSS feeds from inside or outside your home network, using any RSS reader that supports authenticated feeds, to view the latest changes in your Shared Folders. Key features:...

By now, you’ve all read that Drive Extender has been pulled from “Vail” and “Aurora”. Here’s Microsoft’s announcement post and attempt at damage mitigation: When weighing up the future direction of storage in the consumer and SMB market, the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs. Therefore, moving forward we have decided to remove the Drive Extender technology from Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” (and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials) which are currently in beta. While this removes the...

The nasty ASP.NET error-handling security vulnerability has been patched. Go hit Windows Update right now. And if you’re a web developer, make sure your customer sites get the same treatment.

From ScottGu: A few hours ago we released a Microsoft Security Advisory about a security vulnerability in ASP.NET.  This vulnerability exists in all versions of ASP.NET. An attacker using this vulnerability can request and download files within an ASP.NET Application like the web.config file (which often contains sensitive data). At attacker exploiting this vulnerability can also decrypt data sent to the client in an encrypted state (like ViewState data within a page). You can download the .vbs script here.  Simply copy/paste the script into a text file...

Alex Kuretz and I are on Home Server Show #105, talking about developing add-ins for Windows Home Server. It was a lot of fun, so if you’re interested in a bit of Disk Management history, and a discussion about the economics of add-in development, go grab this episode and listen. Backing up your Backups with Alex Kuretz, interpreting the data from Black Box with Sam Wood, it’s the HomeServerShow, Developer Deep Dive Edition.  Episode 105 is a long one and we get in depth with with two developers that have been around since the beginning of...

The guys over at the Home Server Show talk about the Blackbox CTP (and Disk Management) in episode 104. Go check it out; it’s well worth a listen.

Tim and Andrew from Using Windows Home Server have posted a video preview and walkthrough of Blackbox for Windows Home Server. Go check it out.

Big thanks to the WHS community for the great response to our CTP announcement for Blackbox. We’ve got our test team full for this initial round, but look out for more opportunities soon.

It’s that time again! Tentacle Software is looking for testers for our latest Windows Home Server Add-In, Blackbox for Windows Home Server. Blackbox for Windows Home Server provides in-depth real-time monitoring of motherboard, disk, UPS, and graphics card hardware sensors. Administrators can define alerting rules to take actions when a sensor exceeds a specified threshold.   This is a preview release of Blackbox and is intended to showcase the major features that will be present in the release version, and to give our users the opportunity to provide input on the final feature-set....

Last year, Nick from ASoft wrote a comprehensive set of documentation for WHS v1 Add-In development. He’s now released an updated version for “Vail”. Version 1.1 of the WHS DevKit 2 has been published. This Kit is an all-in-one package on how to create/build/install and addin for Vail, so if you want to have a go at it take the kit and have fun! This new version has been updated to support the latest version of Windows Home Server: build 7659. You can find Nick’s documentation over at the ASoft Blog.

A while back I posted a guide on how to get WiX to automatically set the installation package’s version, and how to rename the output package to include the same version number. The instructions still work great, but it all felt a bit too messy. I’ve spent a bit of time with WiX 3.5 over the last few days (because only WiX 3.5 beta supports Visual Studio 2010), and I’ve been able to solve a few niggling issues with my previous installers. Cleaning up how I name the output package is one of those. I’m still...

The Home Server Show is the best podcast in the world because it’s about my favourite subject: Windows Home Server! The boys have just recorded and released their 100th episode, and as part of the celebration we’re providing a super-secret coupon code to get 50% off Disk Management. We’ve also thrown five free licenses for Disk Management into the prize pool as well. You’ll need to hit the Home Server Show site to get the code. Hurry, the special is only going to last one week!

The We Got Served forums have a dedicated board for user-submitted ideas for Windows Home Server Add-Ins. I like to know what users think WHS is missing, so I keep an eye out for any new posts. Yesterday, Ron Levenberg posted an interesting request: I would love to be able to get a daily e-mail that confirms to me that all my PCs connected to my home server have been backed up successfully and, if not, which PCs don't have current backups. It could be something like the Computers & Backups page data. I don't...

Great video on Channel 9 with Fabian Uhse evangelising the “Vail” SDK. Confirms Microsoft’s commitment to Windows Home Server extensibility. Fabian hints that retail “Vail” will be running .NET 4.0 and not .NET 3.5, so we won’t have to wait for it to be pushed via Windows Update. Awesome.

I heart WPF in Visual Studio because it’s incredibly easy to separate business logic from the user interface. However, I don’t really heart the Visual Studio WPF designer. Expression Blend 4 is out now, so I just loaded up our latest secret Windows Home Server Add-In project (it’s WPF, did I mention how much I love WPF?). And I was greeted with this lovely error message: Exception: An error occurred while finding the resource dictionary “/PresentationFramework.Aero;V3.0.0.0;31bf3856ad364e35;component\themes/aero.normalcolor.xaml”. StackTrace: Empty InnerException: None Which is helpful. Obviously, we’re forcing WPF...

Andreas has found himself what looks like a great alternative to WiX for building Add-In packages, Advanced Installer. It ticks all the boxes: Free (as in beer) Wizard-driven No dependencies on a particular version of Visual Studio Can be run using build scripts in your project Best of all, the freeware version’s EULA includes this clause: Caphyon grants you an unlimited license to use the Freeware Features of the Software. The install packages created using only the Freeware Features can be...

If you’re implementing a ListProvider for your Vail Add-In (more about the awesomness of that in a later post), you’ll quickly figure out that the Vail Dashboard now remembers ListView column configurations between sessions. That means if you turn a column on (or off), or change the sort order, Vail is going to remember your changes and display your Add-In the same way the next time you open the Dashboard. This is really annoying if you’re developing an Add-In and making changes to your ListColumnCollection. The quick and dirty method to reset columns in the Dashboard back...

The Windows Home Server “Vail” preview is here. There have been lots of in-depth technical reviews of the new and updated bits in Vail, which is not surprising given how anticipated the new version has been. Overview and Review (MediaSmartServer.net) Overview and Review (We Got Served) Drive Extender v2 (HomeServerLand) Drive Extender v2 (AnandTech) Remote Access (UWHS) Server and Client Backup (UWHS) The new functionality and improvements to the basic Windows Home Server...

Or, how to avoid embarrassing bugs in Disk Management caused by Turkish localization. There’s a classic string localization problem in .NET development known as “The Turkish I”; there are two different versions of the capital I character in the Turkish written language, and they are not equal. Basically, if you’re comparing strings for equality, you’re going to run into issues if you do something like this: if (string1.ToUpper() == string2.ToUpper()) { DoStuff(); } In Disk Management, I was matching the string “\\PhysicalDisk0” to a variable, and forcing ToUpper() to make sure case wasn’t a factor. The result of...

Andreas has posted another great WHS development tip for allowing your SettingsTab and ConsoleTab to notify each other of changes. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using a singleton object which provides the necessary means of communication. We can access a common instance (the singleton) from everywhere in our code by calling on ChangeNotifier.Instance. First we need to subscribe to the ChangeNotifier’s Changed event in our console tab and second we have to call the Notify() method (which will fire the Changed event) from our settings tab when setting changes...

Back in December, I wrote about HomeServerLand.com’s Add-in Central, a Windows Home Server Add-in that sounds remarkably like an App Store (minus the transaction fees). I’m happy to see that they’ve released the public beta early, for everyone to play with. We have been working tirelessly on AC during our exclusive private beta and we are highly confident in the latest stable release. We are constantly working on improving Add-In Central and with it being released to the public; we know that the community will help us make significant improvements. The add-in...

Björn Bürstinghaus has reviewed Disk Management 1.1 on his Windows blog: [Google Translation] The hard drives are, in my opinion the most important components of a home server, because there all data is stored centrally. Unfortunately, the Windows Home Server Console no native support for display of information on the built-in hard drives. With the add-in Disk Management for Windows Home Server Tentacle Software you have a perfect overview of the status and activities of the individual hard disks in your home server. Thanks Björn!

These are actually pretty funny! Starting today, two, 30-second Windows Home Server commercials will run for 3 months throughout 25 different shows that are aired on Hulu. The videos were created to be metaphors of Windows Home Server, and convey 2 of the key features – Backup and Recovery, and using it as a Media Server.In the 30-second clips, Windows Home Server is described as a “Genie in the Box” who magically works to keep your data safe, and in one central location.

Intel have released new drivers (Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver v9.6, previously known as Intel Matrix Storage Manager) for their desktop RAID controllers, and in some cases it appears that SCSI paths for disks attached to the controller are changing. A change in SCSI paths isn’t anything catastrophic, but it does mean that your Disk Management wireframe might need to be reconfigured. The wireframe tracks disk locations based on their SCSI path, and will highlight a drive bay in red if a particular path isn’t present anymore. If you update your disk controller drivers and some drive...

Andreas M. has posted a nifty little tutorial for creating a version update check in your Add-In. I want to show you the simplest form of an update check in less than 20 lines of C# code. Before we can have a look at the code we have to ask ourselves which steps are required to perform: Determine the version of our addin that is currently running Retrieve information about the latest version of our addin from the web ...

Tentacle Software is proud to announce the release of Disk Management 1.1, the next version of our very popular Windows Home Server Add-In. It has, as they say, been a long time coming. We’ve kept this release under the radar, for the most part. We’ve talked about it in hushed whispers (through various threads on We Got Served, and teaser posts here) for at least a year and a half. Why did it take so long? We really, really wanted to get it right.   New Features We re-architected the entire Add-In to use a Windows...

Martin Rothschink from Home Server Blog has released version 1.0 of his Lights-Out Add-in. Lights-Out is a Wake-on-LAN and power management Add-in for Windows Home Server, and has been extremely popular. Martin also performed the German localization of Disk Management for us. The new Lights-Out 1.0 UI looks slick, and there are a number of new features: Support for non WHS clients like Macs, Xbox, streaming clients Support for process, file, CPU and network load monitoring Scheduled wake-up, backups and a client option to shut down after...

Yes, we have an app for that! Home Server Land is proud to announce an upcoming Windows Home Server add-in and service designed to help you discover and track useful add-ins right from within the Windows Home Server Console. Enhance your Windows Home Server experience by browsing for add-ins by category, keyword, or even by community rated popularity. Looks like Alexander and the rest of the HomeServerLand crew have been busy. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing how far they go with this.

Blogger Al West has posted a review of Disk Management 1.0.9.8, including a walkthrough of importing and editing a server wireframe. Overview The Windows Home Server Disk Management Add-In is a very nice presentation of an important part of any Windows Home Server.  It provides a great way to see what each of your disks is contributing to the storage pool and potentially helps you decide which disk to target in the event of changing your storage configuration.  Thanks Al!

I’m using some Power Pack 1 functionality in Disk Management v1.0.9.8, and making use of some of the SDK enhancements from Power Pack 2 in the upcoming Disk Management v1.1 release. I’ve run into a few forum posts from users asking for help with Disk Management crashing, and sometimes it’s just because they have unknowingly installed Disk Management on a vanilla Windows Home Server with no Power Pack updates applied. We can mitigate these issues in WiX with a very simple check, and then pop up a dialog box informing the user that they need to upgrade...

Hot on the heels of my health.xml post, Nigel from MediaSmartServer.net has released an Add-In that provides a browser-based view of your server’s health status. A few weeks ago, Sam Wood highlighted a new feature that Microsoft has included in Power Pack 3 to expose the state of various components of your server. Microsoft are using the this feature to generate the content to Windows Media Center’s new Home Server Console View, and I thought it would be useful to expose these to my iPhone so I can follow up on any messages that are generated...

Nick from ASoft has released his combined Newbie WHS Developer Kit, collecting a whole range of different development resources together in one place. What I tried to do is create 1 package with all kinds of tutorials by combining them and walking you through the different steps of setting up a development environment up until the release, but also by including on how to create help files, localize an add-in, test it, [and] release it. Lots of work went into this, I encourage any budding developers to get over to Nick’s site and check...

I’ve been playing around with .chm files today (that’s Compiled HTML Help to you and me), and I ran across a few annoying issues when launching the help file using Process.Start(). One of the members of IConsoleTab you have to implement for an Add-In is GetHelp(). The WHS Console runs whatever is in this method when the user clicks the Help button in the top right of the console window. I was doing this: public bool GetHelp() { Process.Start(Path.Combine(Application.StartupPath, "DiskManagement.chm");); return true; } The problem here is two-fold. The user can click on the Help button multiple times,...

One of the new features in Power Pack 3 is a dashboard-style plug-in for Windows Media Center that gives you a snapshot of the Home Server’s status on your TV. Now, I don’t use Media Center (long live Popcorn Hour), but I do think that a dashboard status view is pretty cool. The question becomes, then, how do we co-opt the Media Center plug-in for our own nefarious uses? Data Acquisition The Media Center plug-in reads from an XML file published through the Windows Home Server “system” web site (the one that runs on port 55000,...

LifeHacker has a follow-up post on their favourite WHS Add-Ins: In our overview last week, we briefly touched on the idea of using add-ins to enhance your Windows Home Server experience and get more out of the console. This week we're highlighting five add-ins and providing a little more detail on their functionality and how they make your Windows Home Server experience even better. WHS Disk Management is the first Add-In listed. I’m going to interpret that favourably!

AutomatedHome.co.uk has posted Mark II of their DIY Home Server build, and the article has some great things to say about WHS Disk Management. There are some interesting screenshots of their custom wireframe in action, as well. A few weeks ago we ran a story on a particularly impressive 20 terabyte home server belonging to one Automated Home reader.  Looking at his setup we made sure to install the excellent Disk Management add-in.  Amongst other things this allows you to create a wire frame graphical representation of your server.  You need to do this right at...

It’s only for a couple seconds, but WHS Disk Management got a demo in the latest Tekzilla episode on Windows Home Server. Check out the stream starting at 13:55. Of course, ignore their erroneous description of how Drive Extender works. We’ll forgive them for that, because free plugs are free!

A couple of months ago, I ran across Jesse’s tutorial for adding a custom Windows Home Server icon to My Computer. Erik van den Berg has taken the concept and created an extended version called Homeservericon, complete with MSI installer: As I have a custom made WHS I also wanted to have an icon in My Computer (and the Desktop) for my HomeServer. I started with the manual installation of Jesse Michael Torres and made a whole program around it. With the icon library of Gustavo Franco it becomes possible to select icons inside an .exe,...

And Acer wins! Of course, the easyStore still doesn’t show up on acer.co.nz, but baby steps are good. At least the boxes are in the country. There’s a special on at Ascent - $47 off retail. Go get ‘em.

Chris Bickerstaff from HomeServerLand recently interviewed me for their Add-In Author Interview series. On this edition of “The Interviews”, we interview the Add-In author who's Add-In is probably sitting on more Windows Home Servers than any other Add-In that is currently available. The Add-In author who’s Add-In is most likely in the top 5 of Add-Ins first installed by everyone when setting up their Windows Home Server for the first time. The Add-In author who’s Add-In is sitting on the Windows Home Server’s of Add-In authors. The...

Ok, you can all stop emailing me now! I’ve uploaded a bunch of H340 wireframes to the WHS Disk Management download page. Big thanks to everyone who contributed; I’ve received more H340 wireframes than any other OEM Home Server, and I could only post a few.

I’ve seen this question come up a few times, and I always forget the answer when I see it. So this post is more of a reminder to myself than anything! Shared Folders in WHS use localised names. For example, the French \\server\Software share is actually \\server\Logiciel. If you’re writing code that needs to manipulate files in a specific Shared Folder, you need to know the localised name of the share you’re working with. Enter Microsoft.HomeServer.Controls.ShareManager, referenced from HomeServerControls.dll. This static class exposes a whole lot of interesting methods and properties, but we care about these ones: ...

Or, How to Determine When Your Add-In Console Tab is Displayed. Consider this problem. You have some code that runs while your Add-In is displayed in the Windows Home Server Console (a monitoring thread, a timed data refresh, maybe some sort of animation), something that you want to turn off if your Add-In isn’t the currently open Tab. That’s good coding practice for WHS, I think – be a good neighbour. You don’t want some other developer’s long running task sucking all the CPU cycles while your Add-In is displayed, and they probably feel the same way! The...

Alex Kuretz over at MediaSmartServer.net has just posted a deep-dive into the new HP MediaSmart EX49x series servers. Today HP is continuing that evolution with the third generation of the EX series and have announced the upcoming release of the MediaSmart Server EX490 and EX495. I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent the last couple of weeks using and evaluating the EX495 model running the new 3.0 version of the MediaSmart Server software, and I’m ready to give you a tour of what you can expect from the new MediaSmart Server. Some of the...

The Windows Home Server Team Blog has a post up announcing the release of the Japanese version of the WHS SDK, and a Japanese WHS trial download to go along with it. The Windows Home Server team is very pleased to announce the availability of the Japanese Software Development Kit (SDK).  The SDK provides developers with guidance, for example application programming interface (API) information, on how to create programs that integrate with the Windows Home Server Console. The Japanese SDK can be found here, and the trial here. Here’s hoping this sparks another round...

Thanks for the great response, everyone. I’m closing invitations now. If I need more testers, I’ll let you know here.

The new shiny GUI for v1.1 is going out to beta testers soon (hit the Contact link if you’d like to play), so I thought it would be fun to go back through the history of WHS Disk Management and have a look at how we used to do things. By random chance, I happened to save screenshots of all the previous flavours of the interface, so we can do it in pictures! Hello World Here is my very first attempt at an Add-In. You can tell I’m using Brendan’s templates here because of the icon. Check...

From ExtremeTech: Diskeeper plans to introduce a file system filter driver later this year that will eliminate most file fragmentation before it actually occurs, company executives said Friday. … But the filter driver is designed to weed out about 75 percent of fragmentation before it ever occurs, by intercepting the data before it is written to the file system, and organizing it appropriately. I wonder if they’ll be supporting WHS out of the box with this.

Nick from ASoft continues his series of documents on some of the less well-known WHS APIs. This new article describes the undocumented functions in the MiscUtils class which is located in HomeServerControls.dll. This class is a handy little helper. You can find the document here.

If you’ve been browsing the site in the last hour, you would have noticed quite a few broken images. That’s because I’ve put in a redirector to a different image upload location, so I can reduce upgrade headaches the next time I change to a new version of Subtext. Of course, as part of the change I managed to delete the images for a number of blog posts (including one of the tutorial sections, ouch). Always check the name of the folder you’re deleting, kids. I use Windows Live Writer to post, and I work from either my...

Jesse over at Jesseweb.com has a post up on how to add a WHS shortcut to My Computer, to expose all sorts of nifty functionality in a right-click menu. To do this, you simply need to add some registry values and have an icon to display.  I have created an "Application" I call "AspireHome My Computer Link" which has the following features Aspire EasyStore h340 Icon Link to your home server displayed in "My Computer" Double...

Everyone who is familiar with the Windows Home Server user interface has seen LineBox in action. It’s used by Microsoft to group configuration sections in the Settings dialog box, and provides developers with a UI element that compliments the rest of Windows Home Server. Here is an example of LineBoxes used in anger: The problem with LineBox is that it wasn’t ever created to be used in the Visual Studio forms designer. This makes it a pain to layout clean interfaces using LineBox in a graphical view. These are the things you can’t change in...

Donavon West has posted example code to put together a pre-execution environment for the WHS Console to allow developers to test their Add-Ins against various Cultures. This means you can test localized versions of an Add-In without having to install a fully localized copy of Windows Home Server. This is of little use for the casual user as the actual console itself (or at least Microsoft's portion) is still in English, but Add-In developers should find this extremely useful. The reason I wrote the loader was that I needed a way to test my twitter Add-In...

Brendan Grant has posted code that extends the MSDN sample for interacting with WHS Notifications to provide alerting functionality in an external application when WHS health status changes. Unfortunately there is no quick and easy GetHealthState() method within the Windows Home Server SDK, instead the value is determined by going through each outstanding Notification and determining if any exist that are marked as a Warning or Error... and if so we consider the overall state to be same as the most severe, non-suppressed notification. Over on MSDN there exists a bit of sample...

Nick from ASoft (developer of AutoExit) has done some digging into a few undocumented Windows Home Server storage APIs. This new article describes the undocumented functions in the QSMMgr class which is located in HomeServerControls.dll. This class is handy for retrieving all kinds of info about storage (Storage Manager). The following functions are explained: long GetAppFoldersSize() long GetBackupSize() Disk[] GetDisks() string GetGlobalStatus() ...

When you’re building (and updating) a software product for release, it’s important that the version number is adjusted as you add features and fix bugs. Your users need to know if the code they have is out of date, and the easiest way for them to tell is to compare version numbers. You can manually update version, revision, and build numbers in Visual Studio each time you make a change to your application, but that can get inefficient (and annoying) very quickly. Throw WiX into the equation, and you’ve got a couple more places to change the version number...

Timothy Daleo of UsingWindowsHomeServer.com has posted a nifty walk-through of installing WHS Disk Management and configuring a wireframe from scratch. I am very happy with this Add-In. It has some good information about the drives and a cool Wireframe creation tool. You cannot tell from the amount of screen shots I had to take but the Wireframe is pretty easy to set up. I would like to see future revisions offer some different options for the external drives we all use and maybe even some additional name labels. Again though, overall this is a good Add-In...

Dave from The Home Server Show posted a great walk-through of upgrading the storage capacity of his very full HP MediaSmart server. My parting thought is that you should think about swapping in larger drives before your other drives get full in order to make the swap as easy as possible.  If you don’t, you might be looking at some cleanup or possibly adding some temporary USB drives to help facilitate the swap.  I know what you’re thinking.  Use the Disk Balancer utility to balance up those drives.  Don’t think I haven’t thought about it but...

Brendan has posted a great overview of the API changes in Power Pack 2. There’s a few in there I didn’t know about, and some that will come in really handy for the next version of WHS Disk Management. Microsoft.HomeServer.SDK.Interop.v1.dll Rather than describe each of these, I am going to let their names speak for them and what they can do: IDiskInfo2 LocationDisplayName IShareInfo2 GetPermissions()...

Windows Home Server’s success as a platform depends entirely on the ecosystem that surrounds the product. That means the various hardware vendors, obviously, but it also means the software development community; both the big ISVs and as well as the single-developer shops cranking out Add-Ins in their free time. In just about every major WHS update, Microsoft has extended the SDK for Windows Home Server. They may not update the SDK documentation, but there are almost always new bits of functionality or tweaks to existing capabilities. For example, Microsoft recently added support for programmatically changing Shared Folder permissions (see...

Surprise! It’s Power Pack 2! Also, after a bit of back and forth, WHS is now available for those with a TechNet or MSDN subscription to download. We even have an official announcement this time. I’m off to grab my keys before it gets pulled again…

Maybe a long-awaited, and much asked for, feature of WHS Disk Management 1.1? I guess we’ll find out soon.

Further to my previous post, Microsoft has informed us that WHS showed up prematurely on TechNet and MSDN due to internal testing processes; we weren’t supposed to have seen it. I guess that just shows how keen we are to have Windows Home Server available for all TechNet and MSDN subscribers! Look for an announcement from Microsoft in the near future on TechNet/MSDN availability.

Finally, WHS is available on TechNet and MSDN for subscribers! A big thanks to the WHS team at Microsoft for pushing this through (I heard that it was quite the task). Looks like TechNet and MSDN get two retail keys each, so that’s four full retail installs total if you have both subscriptions. This will definitely open WHS up to the wider Microsoft developer community, and that can only be a great thing. Thanks to Alex for the tip. Err… or not. After seeing some forum reports that the download was removed, I checked this...

Brendan Grant from the Microsoft Windows Home Server team has posted an excellent walk-through on configuring your custom WHS web application to leverage the existing WHS forms-based authentication provider. Lets take a look at the web.config (c:\Inetpub\remote\web.config) from a Home Server sitting under my desk at work: <?xml version="1.0"?> <configuration>     <system.web>         <machineKey validationKey="<key removed for length>"    decryptionKey="<key removed for length>"   ...

I’m excited. We’ve seen some awesome and shiny new functionality over the last few days. Most of it is under NDA, and could potentially remain that way for a long time yet. There’s some great stuff coming down the pipeline, revolutionary stuff, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. But trust me when I say this: I’m more excited about the discussions we’ve had with the Windows Home Server team than the actual technology demonstrations I’ve watched. Let me share a little secret here. When you and a couple of fellow community developers sit...

I couldn’t resist posting this one.

I’ve just finished uploading the latest batch of community-created wireframes for WHS Disk Management, including three versions of the new Norco RPC-4020. I have a feeling that the RPC-4020 is going to be a popular WHS platform! Thanks again to everyone that contributed a wireframe. If you’ve sent me one and I haven’t posted it, my apologies; it might have been trapped by my spam filter, so send it through again. You can find the new wireframes in the Download section of the WHS Disk Management site. As always, more contributions are always welcome.

It looks like our friends at Microsoft have finally pushed .NET 3.5 as an important update to all Windows Server 2003 machines; luckily for us, Windows Home Server fits into that category too! Here’s the proof (screenshot from my production Windows Home Server, that definitely did not have .NET 3.5 installed prior to this update): It’ll be interesting to see if we get a spike in the number of Add-Ins built with .NET 3.5 in the next few months. Bring on the W*F Add-Ins.

WGS have posted the results of their Reader Awards 2008 competition. Windows Home Server Disk Management was beaten out this year by Kentdome Technologies’ Grid Junction Add-In. Of course, I can’t complain; I use Grid Junction on a number of Windows Home Servers myself! So, congratulations to Alexander on winning this year! We’ll have to be content with second place.

Using WiX to install and start a Windows Service as part of your Add-In install is fairly easy. The only thing you really have to watch out for is the KeyPath value for your service executable; it has to be set to yes, while all other file KeyPaths must be set to no. Make sure you also use your own GUID values for UpgradeCode and Component ID values. This code works with the latest WiX 3.0 weekly build. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <Wix xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/wix/2006/wi"> <Product Name="Windows Home Server Disk Management Add-In" Id="*" ...

  This is the fifth part in a series of tutorials aimed at guiding novice developers though building a "Hello World" Windows Home Server Add-In, using only freely-available tools (including Visual Studio Express). In Part 5, the last part of our tutorial, we'll wrap our Add-In as part of an MSI package so we can deploy it using the Windows Home Server Console. For this tutorial, we're building a Windows Home Server Add-In that detects changes to Shared Folder permissions. You can access the other parts of the tutorial, or download the code I'm using in the screenshots, using the links...

  This is the fourth part in a series of tutorials aimed at guiding novice developers though building a "Hello World" Windows Home Server Add-In, using only freely-available tools (including Visual Studio Express). In Part 4, we'll clean up the GUI to make it look a bit more shiny, and add our share permission change notification functions. For this tutorial, we're building a Windows Home Server Add-In that detects changes to Shared Folder permissions. You can access the other parts of the tutorial, or download the code I'm using in the screenshots, using the links below. Part 1:...

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This is the third part in a series of tutorials aimed at guiding novice developers though building a "Hello World" Windows Home Server Add-In, using only freely-available tools (including Visual Studio Express). For Part 3, we'll actually be writing some code and responding to Windows Home Server notifications. For this tutorial, we're building a Windows Home Server Add-In that detects changes to Shared Folder permissions. You can access the other parts of the tutorial, or download the code I'm using in the screenshots, using the links below. Part 1: Installing and configuring your development environment ...

This is the second part in a series of tutorials aimed at guiding novice developers though building a "Hello World" Windows Home Server Add-In, using only freely-available tools (including Visual Studio Express). In Part 2, we'll create the GUI for our Add-In and actually see it running in the Windows Home Server Console. For this tutorial, we're building a Windows Home Server Add-In that detects changes to Shared Folder permissions. You can access the other parts of the tutorial, or download the code I'm using in the screenshots, using the links below. Part 1: Installing and configuring...

This is the first part in a series of tutorials aimed at guiding novice developers though building a "Hello World" Windows Home Server Add-In, using only freely-available tools (including Visual Studio Express). One of the major barriers for beginning developers creating Add-Ins is that the initial setup and configuration of the development environment is fairly convoluted; you need to bring together quite a few components to even make a start. Because of this, Part 1 of our tutorial guides you through the installation and configuration of Visual Studio Express, with some Windows Home Server-specific steps. It's not glamorous, but it...

Great stuff in here, so go patch. Shared Folders and Server Storage Issue 1 Before this update is installed, the ability to copy large files or folders from a home computer that is running Windows Vista to a shared folder on the home server is limited by the free space on the primary hard disk drive of the Windows Home Server-based system. After this update is installed, the file size is limited to the free space on the target hard disk drives that are connected to the home server. ...

One of the questions I see quite often from beginning Add-In developers relates to saving settings for Add-Ins. What’s the best way, or the Microsoft-preferred way, of persisting settings between console sessions for my application? The SDK isn’t very clear on this, and I haven’t seen anything official from Microsoft regarding best-practices or even recommendations. Part of the answer comes from the built-in Windows Home Server Server Reinstallation recovery option. If your Home Server suffers a System disk failure, or operating system corruption, users are encouraged to boot from the Windows Home Server DVD and perform a reinstallation....

After a long-weekend marathon, WHS Disk Management v1.1.0.0 has finally reached alpha status. I'm looking for a few brave souls to help with testing; if you're interested, send me a private message on the We Got Served forums, or contact us using the blog. So what's new in this release? Well, exciting things are afoot. We've changed to a client/service architecture, removing the heavy-lifting from the Add-In code and pushing the processing out to a Windows service. The change was made for a number of reasons, the most important of which are: To follow...

The Windows Home Server user interface includes a number of controls that extend normal Windows Forms functionality. FancyListView is the Windows Home Server extension of ListView, and includes a few nifty features: ImageSubItems to display images as ListView subitems FilledBarSubItems to show a configurable progress bar and accompanying label as a subitem Sorting by column works out of the box Brendan has a lot more detail on these new features in WHS Developer Tip #11: FancyListView. Dropping a FancyListView on to your design surface...

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