Archive for the ‘beta’ Category

Microsoft Security Essentials beta registration opens

November 18th, 2011 No comments
Today we announce that the Beta for the next version of Microsoft Security Essentials is open for registration.
Do you want to try out our latest innovations in protection and performance?
Are you interested in helping to improve Security Essentials?
The number of users than can participate in the Beta is limited, so sign up today and we will notify you once the Beta is available for download. We anticipate the Microsoft Security Essentials beta to be available to the general public by the end of the year.
New features in the Beta of Microsoft Security Essentials include:
  • Enhanced protection through automatic malware remediation – The Beta will clean high-impact malware infections automatically, with no required user interaction.
  • Enhanced performance – The Beta includes many performance improvements to make sure your PC performance isn’t negatively impacted.
  • Simplified UI – Simplified UI makes Microsoft Security Essentials Beta easier to use.
  • New and improved protection engine – The updated engine offers enhanced detection and cleanup capabilities.

The Security Essentials team

Categories: beta, Microsoft Security Essentials Tags:

“Vail” Launchpad and Its Extensibility

May 24th, 2010 No comments

Hi there! We are on to our second edition of Vail Engineering blogs, and this time we are talking about Launchpad – what it is, how it can be extended and why developers should care about it. I aso want to point out that we got pretty good response to Vail SDK with some of our MVPs covering it pretty well by now. You can check out some of these very informational posts here:

What is Launchpad?

Launchpad is a light weight and extensible client-based user interface that we built for Vail. It was born out of a couple of pain points that our customers experienced from Home Server v1. While Home Server v1 provided the ability for developers to add what we call ‘administrative’ or ‘server management’ tasks to the Admin console, it did not provide any means by which a day-to-day or non-administrative task could be presented to users in a coherent manner that resonates its association with Home Server. As a result we started seeing add-ins for day-to-day consumption of home server capabilities that were deployed to Admin Console, but did not belong there since they were not administrative tasks. We realized that there is a need for providing a coherent and consistent grouping as well as entry point for home server related tasks that everyone in the household can perform from their client PCs. This was the first pain point.

The second one, and perhaps the more significant one of the two, was the limitation around having matching usernames and passwords on the server and the PCs. If you recall, in Home Server v1 we require users to create user accounts on the server that had the same username and password as that of the client PCs so that they can seamlessly access the shared folders on the server as soon as they login to their PCs. This generated lot of confusion with consumers, as was evident from the feedback that we got. With Vail, Launchpad acts as the login UI for signing the user onto the server, thereby granting them access to the Server shares and other platform services exposed via the SDK. We no longer have the requirement to have the user accounts matching on server and client, instead users can use Launchpad to ‘sign-in’ to the server with any user account and password combination that was set up in Dashboard!


In short, Launchpad serves the following purposes:

  1. It is the entry point for the day-to-day tasks related to Windows Home Server from the client PCs.
  2. It eiminates the need for matching usernames and passwords setup between server and client, and eliminates the password sync dialogs.
  3. It Provides a logical and centralized location where all home server related tasks are exposed, resulting in much better awareness of home server and its capabilities.
  4. It allows everyone in the household to have visibility to developers’ add-ins, than just home server administrators.

Why should developers care about Launchpad?

So far, home server add-ins or applications were focused on ‘Administrative’ kind of tasks that extended the Admin Console. The audience for such add ins were limited to one person in the house hold, most possibly the head of the house hold who does the ‘Administrative tasks’ on the computers. With Launchpad, we now have the ability to create end-to-end add-ins with user interfaces targeted at everyone in the home who uses a PC joined to home server. A typical example can be an addin providing the ability for everyone in the home to sync a folder on their PC to home server, and then subsequently to the cloud. The launch point for a configuration UI for adding or removing folders included in the auto-sync scenario above (which is specific to the user’s PC) would be Launchpad, and not Dashboard.

As you can see from the example this is an opportunity for developers to create add-ins with multiple facets – one server side component targeting the administrator and one client side component targeting everyone in the home. The result is more people using your add-ins and more word getting spread about your product/addin. With our add-in deployment mechanism, you can package both these components together and we’ll take care of deploying and installing the relevant pieces on the server and client appropriately as well (more on this in a later post). So, as you can see, we have built a powerful SDK for developers to build a truly end-to-end add-in spanning the client, server and the cloud.

 When to extend Launchpad and when not to

Just so that we give a clear guidance on extensibility of Launchpad vs Dashboard, I am going to call this out specifically here.

You extend Launchpad when…

  1. You have a task or resource/UI that you expect everyone in the household to access/ use. Eg: Backup my PC, access shared folders etc…
  2. The task IS NOT related to the management or administration of the Server.
  3. You DO NOT need Administrator privileges on the server to do the task.

You extend Dashboard when…

  1. You have a task or resource/UI that you expect only the head of the household (home Admin – typically the person who sets up Home Server) to access/use. Eg: Add a hard drive, create user account etc..
  2. The task IS related to the management or administration of the Server, and not a day-to-day one.
  3. You DO need Administrator privileges on the server to do the task.

When in doubt, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Extending Launchpad

 Adding entries to Launchpad

You can add entries to Launchpad to point to a client application that makes use of Home Server in one way or the other. Your entries will appear under a category called ‘Addins’ on the main page of Launchpad.

Adding categories to Launchpad

If you want to add multiple entries to the Launchpad UI, we recommend grouping them under categories. Categories can be added upto three levels deep.


Addins-> (Built-in category)

              Company-> (Your category)

                       Antivirus -> (Your sub category)

                                  System Scan (entry)

                                  Scan Schedule (entry)

                       Online Backup-> (Your sub category)

                                  Backup Now (entry)

                                  Backup Settings (entry)


Enhances coming in future builds

In the later builds, we are looking at adding capability for targeting Launchpad tasks to specific users who are part of a User Group on the Server. For example, you can target only users who are part of ‘Remote Access Group’ to see a link to your remote portal hosted in Home Server. We are also making it so that Launchpad automatically authenticates the machine to home server using the username and password stored, if the user choses to do so. So, as soon as the user logs into the local machine, they are authenticated to Home Server so that all the services that require authentication to server work seamlessly. Another enhancement that is coming is the ability to control the alerts that are seen from the tray icon. User would be able to choose from three options – No alerts, network alerts or local & network alerts. On top of that you’ll see a lot more in the look and feel for Launchpad when we ship!

That’s it for today. As always, we welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions!

Introduction to Windows Home Server “Vail” SDK

May 7th, 2010 No comments

Hi everyone! My name is Dileep and I am a Development lead with Windows Home Server team. It has been more than a week since we released the beta builds of the next version of Windows Home Server “Vail”, and we are very encouraged by the download and the feedback pouring in through connect. Thank you for everyone who is participating in the beta program! Alongside that, we thought this is the right time to start discussing some of the features of Vail and its extensibility with the community to get the excitement started for building great, cool and useful add-ins for the next version of Windows Home Server. The SDK is also available to download from Connect and if you already tried it out, you might have noticed that the extensibility options for Vail are pretty broad in comparison with first version of Windows Home Server. There are many ways one can extend Vail – by extending Dashboard (old Admin Console), Launchpad or by building a Provider. You can even build an addin which has both server and client components to it.  Vail SDK contains information about all these plus APIs for many other core features like Alerts framework, Storage (Server Folders & Hard Drives), Computers & Backup, Identity, Remote Access, Media Streaming and much more! The SDK also contains detailed documentation as to how you can build, package and deploy your add-ins to Vail Server and clients. All-in-all, you can see that we’ve tried to put up a much broader and more powerful SDK in place compared to the previous version.

There is a lot of information to digest in Vail and SDK in particular. Hence we are taking this opportunity to do a series of blog posts to talk about the various extensibility points of Vail in a much higher level than the actual SDK documentation. The idea is to give developers an overview of the capabilities of Vail SDK along with providing guidance as to how to go about building addins the right way so that the user experience or performance is not compromised. In the first of such posts, I am discussing the Vail ‘Dashboard’ and its extensibility vis-à-vis Home Server v1 here.

The Administration console in Home Server v1 has been renamed to ‘Dashboard’ to better reflect the information it provides. Just like the Admin console in v1, Dasbhboard still is the main user interface for administrative or management type of tasks on the Server. Dashboard is where you would go to monitor the health of the network, create user accounts, view backups, add shared folders, increase storage capacity, enable or disable media streaming etc. Dashboard is still not the place to put any day-to-day non-administrative tasks. I have posted a document on connect website (link is given below) which talks about the differences in the Dashboard UI compared to Home Server v1 Admin Console. In the document I talk about the new Dashboard layout, the new UI elements introduced, the three different kinds of tabs that one can build as well as plugging into the existing Microsoft tabs and wizards. I also cover the extensibility aspects of Home Server v1 Admin console which are no longer available in Vail.

You can download the complete document here.

(You will have to sign in to Microsoft Connect site.)

I hope I was able to give an adequate overview of the changes and new features in Windows Home Server ‘Vail’ Dashboard in the document, especially when compared to v1. Please remember that this document is meant as a high level overview of the extensibility points, and the low-level details of all of those extensibility APIs, documentation, samples and templates are available in the Vail SDK. We would love to hear your comments and feedback. Moreover we would love to get all of you started on writing cool addins for Vail. Please use Vail SDK Forum for discussing seeking assistance for the SDK. In subsequent posts, we’ll cover other topics such as Launchpad, building Providers, addin deployment, various object models etc. Happy coding!

Download Dashboard overview document

Download “Vail” SDK

Discuss about “Vail” SDK

Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 – PP3 Beta Update

September 29th, 2009 No comments

Hey everyone,

 As some of you know, we have started blogging over on the Windows Team Blog back at the beginning of September with a new blog called the Windows Home Server Blog. So, if you haven’t already added this blog to your feed, please do. For the moment we are planning on blogging from both our TechNet Blog as well as our new blog. As part of our efforts to reach out to a larger audience and our strong alignment with Windows we felt that it was important that we start communicating our message from the Windows Team Blog. In the near future, we may make a complete move from our TechNet location to the Windows Team Blog. Stay tuned…

So, back to Power Pack 3. We wanted to update everyone on where we are with the beta of PP3 and talk about the steps we are taking in this beta to inusre a smooth transition in supporting our newest OS, Windows 7. to read more, please go check out this article: Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 update.

 Thanks again to all of our beta testers who are really running our PP3 beta and giving us some very valuable feedback. This is shaping up to be an amazing release for Windows Home Server.

Kevin Beares
Community Lead – WSSG

Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 BETA – Includes enhancements for Windows 7-based computers

July 17th, 2009 No comments

We are pleased to announce the Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 Beta which improves the Windows Home Server experience with Windows 7 and Windows Media Center by providing the following new features: Backup and restore of computers running Windows 7, Windows 7 Libraries integration, enhancements for Windows Media Center, and better support for netbook computers.

If you are running Windows 7 on your home computer and are a current Windows Home Server user, we need your help!

Important: You will need to sign up as a beta participant of the Windows Home Server program on Microsoft Connect in order to download the Power Pack 3 Beta.


New in Power Pack 3 Beta

Windows 7 Backup & Recovery

Windows Home Server performs a full image-based backup of Windows 7-based computers, allowing for a complete computer recovery in the case of a hard drive failure, or restoration of a single file or folder in the event of accidental deletion or loss. After the Windows Home Server Connector software has been installed on a computer running Windows 7, Windows 7 Backup warnings will be suppressed and users will no longer receive a notification to back up their computer. Windows Home Server can back up Windows XP SP2 or later, Windows Vista and Windows 7-based computers.

Windows 7 Backup

Windows 7 – Backup
Windows Home Server completes an automatic image-based backup of Windows-based computers every day.

Windows 7 Libraries

Power Pack 3 Beta will add Music, Photos and Videos shared folders on the home server to Windows 7 Libraries making the content available for applications such as Windows Explorer, Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player and other applications that use Windows 7 Libraries. This allows users to quickly access all their content in one organized place that is always available, searchable and expandable. Users can also search a specific library without having to know where the files are stored.

Windows 7 Libraries

Windows 7 – Libraries – Pictures
Windows Home Server content is automatically added to Windows 7 Libraries after installing the Windows Media Center Connector software.

Windows 7 Jump List

Windows 7 – Windows Explorer Jump List – Music Library
Users access the libraries through Jump Lists by simply selecting Music, Videos or Photos. All content is accessible from one organized location.

Windows Search

Windows Search 4 has been included with Power Pack 3 Beta to improve query search times, indexing times and reliability. If users are searching across multiple computers, extended remote discovery increases the efficiency of searching across all document libraries. Files encrypted with Encrypting File System (EFS) are now supported with search.

The image below is an example of searching across a music library where files are located in multiple places: the home computer Music folder, the home computer Public Music folder, and the home server Music shared folder. Users can add other locations to Windows 7 Libraries.

Windows 7 Search

Windows 7 – Libraries – Music – Searching for Aerosmith music content on the home server
Searching for content in the library folder will not only search the home computer but also search the home server.

Power Pack 3 Beta makes Windows Home Server compatible with netbook computers that have small screen sizes and low resolution. A home server makes a great storage and backup solution for ultra-portable computers.

Windows Media Center Enhancements

Last March, Power Pack 2 added functionality that allowed Windows Media Center and Media Center Extenders to easily access the content on a home server. Power Pack 3 Beta builds on this functionality. When the Windows Home Server Connector software is installed or updated on a Windows Media Center computer, the next time a user starts Windows Media Center they will be prompted to install the Windows Media Center Connector. Users will notice a new Home Server selection in Windows Media Center menu.

Windows Media Center
Windows Media Center view – Home Server

TV Archiving

The TV Archive tile in Windows Media Center will give users the option to move recorded TV content to the home server in a variety of resolutions. The recorded TV shows are archived in the correct resolution for the type of device that will be used for playback. TV Archive is optimized for Windows Media Center computers, Windows Mobile-based phones, and the Zune player, however, any device capable of playing WMV files can take advantage of this feature.

· TV – Original Resolution

· Windows Mobile – 320 x 240, 500 Kbps, .WMV

· Zune – 640 x 480, 1500 Kbps, .WMV

Users can select individual TV shows, a series of shows, or all TV recordings to automatically be moved to the home server. Because Windows Home Server storage space can be easily expanded, users can keep all the TV shows that they want in their collection.

TV Archive

Windows Media Center view – Home Server – TV Archive view

Console Quick View

Console Quick View allows users to see statistics about the home server through Windows Media Center and Windows Media Center Extenders. This is a convenient way to view many aspects of the home server without needing to access the Windows Home Server Console. This feature allows users to view and monitor a number of home server indicators:

· Storage – Pie chart listing the percentage allocation of the home server storage

· Drives – List, size and health of hard drives installed on the home server

· Backup – List of computers being backed up and their current backup status

· Shared Folders – List of Shared Folders by name with health status and duplication status

· Media Counters – Count of music, photos, videos and recorded TV files on the home server

· Health – Health of the entire home network

· Home Server – System information of the home server’s hardware and manufacturer info

 Console View
Windows Media Center view – Home Server – Console View

Timing of the Power Pack 3 final release has not been determined. With your help to test the Beta, we hope to release the update prior to the Windows 7 General Availability date of October 22.  Power Pack 3 will be a free update to existing Windows Home Server users via Windows Update. Thanks for your support!

– The Windows Home Server Team

Windows Home Server MVPs – April 2009

The Windows Home Server team is excited to have 2 new MVPs added to our MVP family.  Please join me in welcoming our latest additions:

I look forward to their continued contributions to the Windows Home Server Community.