Microsoft Windows Home Server will be available as pre-assembled systems offered by vendors or you can buy the OEM version. Online retailers like Amazon and Newegg already have this product listed, with Newegg pricing it at US$189.99. If you intend to build your own home server, the following are the minimum requirements from Microsoft:
Looking at this list, it's obvious that unlike Microsoft's other new operating systems like Windows Vista , the Windows Home Server is not as picky about its hardware and older machines can easily fulfill its requirements. This effectively also opens Home Server to a larger audience, since we bet that there are many underutilized PCs in every family that has become too sluggish for the newer games and applications but still a decent machine given the right programs. Currently, Windows Home Server only supports client machines using 32-bit Windows OS though Mac users can still access the Home Server on their network as a storage for their files. The remote access feature which we'll get to later, will also work for any operating system since that uses the web browser.
What's really essential for Home Server is that you'll need an Ethernet connection, linked to the router at home and secondly, lots of drive space. Since storage and backup is one of its primary purposes, one would be well advised to load it with multiple hard drives of respectable capacities, adjusting of course for the needs of each home.
Our test Home Server machine from Microsoft came preloaded with the software so we could skip the server installation. That meant we didn't even need to connect our keyboard/monitor to it and could have just left it as a featureless black box connected solely via Ethernet. Therefore, we proceeded to install the client software, the Windows Home Server Connector on our computers. Installation was relatively simple and it automatically created a shortcut to the shared folders on the server.
It also created an icon in our taskbar, known as the Windows Home Server console. Users are meant to access the Home Server mostly through this console and it is this simplified tabbed interface that will be the 'face' of Windows Home Server. The icon changes color according to the network 'health', which basically means that Home Server will check if the PCs on the network are updated to the latest version of the client or have had their data backed up. If you're running Windows Vista on the client machines, it will also collate the security center information from these PCs and report them. In our opinion, the color codes are about as useful as the terrorism threat color codes used in the US. The 'threats' are vague at times and you'll have to connect to the console to get more information about these threats. In some cases, it could be trivial or intentional on the part of the users so we feel that some users will probably start tuning it out as time goes by. The good thing is that you can turn off the notification easily by un-checking an option.