Using Windows Home Server

All about Windows Home Server, the Digital Home and Security.

Windows Home Server Power Pack 2 – Now Available

with 11 comments

Today finally sees the announcement that Windows Home Server Power Pack 2, formally known as Snoqualmie, will be released tomorrow via Windows Update. Power Pack 2 is a minor release for Windows Home Server but it is also a "must have" update to Windows Home Server!

If you have your WHS set to download and install updates automatically then you have nothing else to do but sit back, relax, wait for the download and installation to happen, and enjoy PP2! However if you don’t want to wait you can always force the download 🙂

If you don’t have automatic updates switched on, in which case why not, now would be a good time to switch it on to make sure that you don’t miss out on any updates in the future.

This is the release of the English version, with Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish currently scheduled to be available before the end of April.

If you want to read the documentation for Power Pack 2 click here.

You can check that Power Pack 2 has installed correctly by opening the Windows Home Server Console, clicking on Settings and the Resources, and confirming that the version you have installed is 6.0.2030.0 as shown below. The image on the left is the pre PP2 version numbers and the one of the right is the PP2 version.

PP1 resources     resources new

All of your computers that are currently running the Windows Home Server Connector will have the connector automatically upgraded to the new version.

NEW FEATURES AND ENHANCEMENTS

There are a number of new features and enhancements that are delivered with Power Pack 2.

Remote Access Enhancements

The Remote Access settings experience has been greatly enhancement to make it even easier to setup and configure remote access to your Windows Home Server. There are some new wizards as well to help you with the initial configuration of remote access, and also to repair your existing configuration as well.

remote access remote config remote config2 remote config3 remote config5 remote repaired

The troubleshooting help has also been improved.

Home Computer Backup Enhancements

Have you ever tried to restore files and folders from a backup only to have the process stop somewhere between 79 and 81%? Well if you have then there are some fixes included in PP2 which should help eliminate this!

An Updated SDK

The Windows Home Server SDK has been updated and includes facilities to enable add-in developers to display a EULA during installation, amongst other things.

Server Storage and Shared Folder Enhancements

Improvements have been made to the amount of notification messages that WHS produces about the files that are stored in your Shared Folders. Previously the amount of messages produced could cause high CPU utilisation for any applications that might be accessing these files, such as a Zune. This update rectifies this issue.

Have you ever tried to copy large files from your Windows Vista computer to a share on your Windows Home Server and had it fail because you didn’t have enough free space on your WHS Primary Drive? For example, you only had 3Gb of free space on your primary drive but you wanted to copy a 5Gb file to your Videos folder? Well, this update changes this from needing the free disk space on your primary drive to needing the free disk space in the storage pool, which after all is what you were expecting, right?

Bug Fixes 

Obviously there are some bug fixes included in Power Pack 2.

If one or more of your home computers has been running the Windows 7 beta, then you would have noticed already that prior to PP2, the Computers and Backup tab showed any Windows 7 computer you had as a Windows Vista computer. Now with PP2 installed WHS correctly identifies Windows 7 – as you can see below.

OS

Improved User Experience 

Improvements have been made to the “Day 1 Experience” which basically means if you were to be installing Windows Home Server with Power Pack 2 for the first time there are now less screens that you have to go through before being able to use it.

There have also been some improvements in the Windows Home Server Connector installation experience.

New Language Support

Italian language support has been added in addition to existing Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish versions.

Media Sharing Enhancements

With the release of PP2 comes support for MP4 audio and video. Also, any content that is stored on your WHS and shared via WMC, including those MP4 files, will now show up in the music or video library with title, artist, composer, album and genre metadata.

music

Windows Media Center Connector

For some of you, this might be the one thing you were waiting for! This enhancement enables your Windows Media Center to connect to your WHS and access content that has been stored in your Shared Folders.

You can also use your Windows Media Center Extender to view content stored on your WHS.

How cool is that? In the past, you could hack your WHS and WMC to enable some of this functionality, but thankfully it is now fully supported and provided to you without the need to do anything extra. So, do you think that the future might see even more WMC integration with WHS?

If you click on the Windows Media Center icon that appears in the Settings area of the Windows Home Server Console before you have installed and configured the Windows Media Center Connector, you will see a reminder to install it first.

WHS WMC Console Settings

INSTALLING AND CONFIGURING THE WINDOWS MEDIA CENTER CONNECTOR

The required files for the Windows Media Center Connector are automatically copied to all of your Windows Media Center computers ready for you to install. To do this just follow these simple instructions:

On the Start menu, find Windows Media Center Connector and click it.

mce start menu

The UAC box will appear (assuming have haven’t switched UAC off) – click Continue.

The next screen to appear is the Windows Media Center Connector installer. Just click Next to carry on.

wmcc1

You will then be asked for your Windows Home Server password (remember this is the administrator password). Type it in and then click Next to continue.

wmcc2

The installation will only take a few seconds, then when it is complete you will need to click the Done button to restart your computer. If you don’t want to restart at this point you can check the “Do not restart now” box – just make sure you restart before you want to use the new functionality.

wmcc3

Now when you go into the Windows Home Server Console, click on Settings and then Windows Media Center you will see it is populated with information specific to your Windows Home Server.

WHS WMC Console Settings - after

You can specific access to different folders for Windows Media Center and also Windows Media Center Extenders just by clicking the relevant radio buttons – just as you are used to already with Windows Home Server. You can even stop all access with a single click of a button. Don’t worry, you can re-enable access with a single click as well!

Recorded TV folder

When you go into the Windows Home Server Console and click on the Shared Folders tab you will notice a new tab called Recorded TV.

shared folders

If you double click on the Recorded TV folder you will notice that Folder Duplication is switched off by default, so if you really want to protect your Recorded TV, now might be a good time to enable it.

recorded TV properties

Another nice feature is that every user by default gets Full access to the Recorded TV folder. So if you don’t want every user to have this, make sure you go and change it.

recorded TV properties - user access 

It is important to know that Windows Media Center does not automatically copy your Recorded TV from your Media Center to the Recorded TV folder on your Windows Home Server. This is something that you still have to do manually. Why then you may ask is it there? Well, it’s for consolidating your recorded TV content, and also ensuring that it gets backed up. All very useful!

Anything copied to or stored in the Recorded TV folder appears on your Media Center under Recorded TV, just as though it was stored on the Media Center itself.

recorded tv

Conclusion

Ok, so that’s it – what are you waiting for – go get Power Pack 2 and start experiencing even more with your Windows Home Server.

Advertisements

11 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I installed PP2 via remote yesterday. After the update restarted the server I could never regain a connection. My Remote Notification kept sending messages about the backup service being down and other errors. A few hours later when I got home, and after no response from the SC440 server, I had to reboot using the power button. Once the server was happy again I noticed that the computers running Vista had little red houses. Upon clicking it told me I had to update the connector software. My XP machines were green. During the process of connector update the license agreement came up with Power Pack 1. I assume they just forgot to change it? Maybe the will get on the next revision. Once the connectors were updated I could update the WMC WHS application from the program menu. Enabling of the WMC connector require a restart of the PC. Great, more restarts. I finally have everything up and running however I am still trying to get the WMC to find the video folder where I have stored my DVD files. I see the Users folder but not the other folders. Within the WMC settings in WHS I have Full access for all folders. In addition, I have added to the library all the server folders. I should now be able to access the DVD files in my Videos folder on the WHS from any WMC PC on the network, yes?

    All my resources are now 6.0.203.0. Woo hoo?

    Looks like I will be busy this Friday night again.

    Timothy Daleo

    March 25, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    • Tim,
      You seemed to have had a few problems – I guess I got lucky and didnt have any, although I installed directly and it worked without issue.
      As for your videos issue, I assume you have the files stored in the Videos shared folder and that you have enabled sharing from the Settings menu in the Console?
      Andrew

      Andrew Edney

      March 25, 2009 at 5:12 pm

  2. I can play my DVD library that I stored in the Videos folder from my dekstop. It has worked well for some time. I replaced my HP extender (connected to my plasma) last week with a Dell Studio Hybrid so I could access all of the full feature of WMC. At that time the HP could not access the DVD library. I did not want to run a bunch of hacks etc. so the refurbished Hybrid for $400 with Blu-ray was the way to go. Just trying to get my stuff worked out now I hope.

    Timothy daleo

    March 25, 2009 at 5:21 pm

  3. Hello Andrew. I posted the following on the forums at the “We Got Server” WHS site, but thought I’d run it by you as well. I’m not sure if the current WHS connector software is supposed to be designed for use with the Windows 7 beta, but given the relatively large number of people running the Windows 7 beta, I’m sure I am not the only one trying to use WHS with it.

    I am running Windows 7 beta 64-bit and am running into problems with the new WHS Media Center functionality.

    After upgrading my WHS to PP2, under Windows 7, I am not getting the Windows Media Center Connector installer to appear in my Start Menu. I first tried to completely uninstall the WHS Connector and reinstall it and still no go.

    I have a dual-boot setup with Vista 64-bit installed, and which previously did not have the WHS Connector software installled. I installed it in the same manner as in my Windows 7 setup, from the shared folder on my home server, and it did add the shortcut to my Start menu to install the Media Center Connector. So I tracked down the installer and found it is placed under Program Files\Windows Home Server.

    I booted back to my Windows 7 setup and checked the corresponding folder there and there is no setup program for the Media Center Connector. So I uninstalled again, completely deleted the contents of Program Files\Windows Home Server, and reinstalled the WHS Connector again, and same thing. It’s not putting the Media Center Connector installer in the Program Files\Windows Home Server directory.

    In a last ditch effort, I tried to run the installer from the Vista partition under Windows 7. It fires up, but after prompting me for the WHS password, it comes up with a red X and an “Unknown error”. I have verified that the Media Center option is showing up in the Settings area of my WHS, so I’m at a loss at this point. Any ideas?

    Thanks,

    John

    John R.

    March 25, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    • John – I too am running the 64bit version of Windows 7 but I am not having the same problems as you are. Mine worked first time and I just removed it and reinstalled it again just to make sure. The file is called MCWHSSetup.exe and is located at C:\Program Files\ Windows Home Server after the connector is installed or updated as you said, so I am not sure why it is not finding it for you. Can anyone else suggest something for John to try?

      Andrew Edney

      March 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm

  4. Everything now seems to be working as advertised. I was unaware of the fact that once I had enabled the DVD Library that I had to link the WHS video folder again through the Library. You would think that the changes I had made in the WMC main settings to add the server folders would be the only place.

    Timothy Daleo

    March 26, 2009 at 4:18 pm

  5. I have forced updates on the WHS and it comes up with NO NEW UPDATES. Had some issues installing .net 3.5 sp1 and had to manually remove all the .net to get it to take. I’ve even done the windowsupdate.com site for CUSTOM and cannot find PP2. It seems everybody else in the universe has automatically received the PP2 download.

    Can’t find another way to force it. Ideas?

    Darren Crawford

    March 26, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    • Darren – it should appear for you if you go into the Windows Home Server Console, Settings tab and Check for Updates and it should be there. If not, have you checked that is isnt already installed? What are your version numbers? Andrew

      Andrew Edney

      March 26, 2009 at 4:24 pm

  6. Yeah, checked that. Shows Windows Home Server with Power Pack 1

    All versions are showing

    Windows Home Server Console: 6.0.1771.0
    Windows Home Server Backup & Restore: 6.0.1771.0
    Windows Home Server Drive Extender: 6.0.1771.0
    Windows Home Server Remote Access: 6.0.1771.0
    Windows Home Server Storage Manager: 6.0.1771.0

    Darren Crawford

    March 26, 2009 at 4:31 pm

  7. Thanks Andrew, though hearing that just adds to my frustration over this. I’ve gone through innumerable iterations of unintalling and reinstalling the software, including trying to set the compatibility mode to Vista, and it is just not installing the Media Center Connector setup files. I am presuming that this is because, for some reason, my system is not being detected as a Media Center PC, even though I do of course have Media Center and even tried having it running in the background when trying to install the WHS Connector, hoping that it would detect it, but nope.

    FWIW, I am a computer professional, a senior systems admin with many years of Windows and Unix administation under my belt, so I have a good degree of knowledge about these matters. I am running on a new i7-based system with an SSD as my primary system drive, so maybe there’s some anomaly there. I suppose for now I will boot Vista if I need to serve media files, but I have been running Windows 7 almost exclusively so that’s not exactly an optimal solution.

    John R.

    March 27, 2009 at 4:53 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: