I apparently got into a new program from Microsoft which is beta testing Windows Home Server. They have granted beta users permission to publicly discuss the software but not give it out to anyone. I'm currently downloading the DVD installer package and will be converting my Windows 2003 server into this new operating system.
Early looks into the documentation for it point to the normal client/server relationship between the Server and other Windows-based hosts on your network. Among the interesting features are an actual useful backup tool (single instance storage for the win), media server (instead of shares on every individual host), media streaming, and a host of other odds and ends.
Support exists for Windows XP and Vista flavors only; no 2000 or 2003 and certainly nothing earlier than that. The only downside I can see thus far is that each host must have client software installed in order for the whole mess to work. I would have rather seen something that integrated seamlessly. That being said, Windows Networking is notorious for being slow and unable to correctly count time, among other things. Perhaps this is a move to correct some of those problems; time will certainly tell.
I hope to do a series of updates about my experience with this and turn it into my latest project that, for once, doesn't blow up in my face. I'm quite certain I will experience some issues as my hardware is not terribly robust. It meets/exceeds the minimum requirements but is not ready for running Vista or anything like it. Ahoy matey, thar be geekery ahead!
Editor's Note: This is the first post in what I hope becomes a series that is cross-posted at DownToZero.Org.