Short Bits: More Extender Questions; Home Server Prices Disappoint too

I’ve been so wrapped up in Extenders that I failed to realize a few other things.  The expensive D-Link doesn’t list MPEG-4 AVC support!  Only MPEG-4 ASP (DivX/XviD).  While it has been known that exact formats are up to OEMs, this is crazy.  The hardware that the D-Link should be based on supports H.264.  Little reason to not support in the $350 standalone Extender.



I’m going to try and check to make sure that’s not a typo, but this launch of Extenders has just been a complete and total failure.  The official Microsoft FAQ says “View videos stored on your PC on your TV, including home movie capabilities, complete with music and subtitles, and support for high definition WMV, DivX, Xvid and H.264 MPEG4.”  So I don’t even know anymore.  Doing some checking.



Buy.com has their Home Server page up now $194.24 with shipping.  I think I’ll pass on that one too.  We Got Served has more, but so far I’m less than impressed here too. Sure, OEM copies of any OS are not targeted at the average consumer, but while Windows Home Server works great I don’t think it is worth $175-$195 plus the cost of a PC and hard drives.  The average price seems to be about $175, but I really think $125 is about the most I would pay for the OEM OS.


18 thoughts on “Short Bits: More Extender Questions; Home Server Prices Disappoint too”

  1. I love WHS. I’m building a low-power (<50w) machine to host this. But I have to agree with you. It’s ridiculous that WHS OEM costs as much as Vista Ultimate OEM. That just blows my mind.

    Not to mention it’s being very poorly marketed, starting with the name. The word “server” scares most non-techies to death. I just can’t imagine the average home computer user recognizing that they need a “server” in the house.

    It’s amazing to me that with all their money, MSFT can’t market these things better.

  2. I am a computer reseller, and I am seeing my cost as being $148 Canadian for home server ($159 retail??). Should be about the same US. $148 is OK, $180 is not.

  3. WHS is an OEM product, for system builders.

    It is not expected that individuals will buy the software and install it on their own hardware. None of the marketing is oriented towards that.

    All of the marketing (and this of course includes pricing plans) is oriented towards companies that want to build and sell headless boxes.

    So given this, why doesn’t Microsoft forbid the sale of WHS software standalone? Of course, if they did that, there would be screaming about THAT policy.

    –Don

  4. Don: Microsoft intends for it to be purchased by enthusiasts, to build their own and then help push Home Server into other peoples homes, because clearly the general public buying a “server” is pretty far down their list as Aaron pointed out.

  5. What’s with all the whining lately Chris? I suppose it gets you more exposure but I’m about sick of visiting your site… it’s starting to sound like just another teenager who’s mad at his dad and wants to make sure the whole world knows it.

  6. Al: I’m just stating my opinion as I have been doing here for years. Yes, lately there has been a lot of “whining”, but I’m not just interested in covering the good side of things. I’m going to cover all sides the way I see them.

    If that’s not what you are interested in reading, then I’m sorry I’ve lost you as a reader. However, I have no intentions of being a shill for Microsoft and backing their every move.

    I will say that based on the comments I have gotten in the past few days I am far from the only one who feels this way, so while I might be “whining” I feel like I’m doing it with a few thousand people behind me. :)

  7. There has been much to cry about lately. I think media center is great. I really would like to watch hdtv. In order to do this I could get a dell or hp for a high price, and then I get a machine that was obviously designed by someone who had no idea what they were doing. (pre-installing software that breaks cable cards probably isn’t a good idea) Or I can buy from some oem who charges absolutely INSANE prices for there computers, and maybe that will work, but I just paid 3-4k for a computer I could build for 800$ + the cost of cable cards. Or I buy a tivo for 250$ and live with a interface I dont like as much.

  8. Don: My comments about marketing have *nothing* to do with OEM versus non-OEM. The OS is still called “Windows Home Server”, and it’ll still be labeled that way in every ad for every headless box that is sold. It’s a stupid boardroom name.

    This is just one example of poor marketing. Here’s another: WHS is an exciting product. In fact, I don’t know of any other backup product that has some of these capabilities. So why is it that whenever there’s an article about WHS, everyone cries and complains that a $150 NAS drive or some open source Linux application can do everything WHS can do (and more)? It’s because no one outside of the beta group knows what this thing is actually capable of. There has been barely a peep from MSFT in the marketing and advertising department. It’s truly sad. Why am I disappointed? Because I plan to invest in this and I don’t want the product to fail and be phased out in a year.

    Al: There’s a lot to complain about in the MSFT world right now and I think Chris’ editorials have been fair.

  9. So where is the update for my $400 Xbox 360 Extender that brings Divx support? There is NO reason why Xbox 360 extender owners shouldn’t have parity with OEM v2 extender. None.

    So I get to choose from overpaying for a v2 extender or buying another Xbox 360 that can’t play the world’s most popular codec. Great. Maybe in another 5 years MS will finally get the CE market.

  10. Ok… I’m sure I’ll get blasted as a MS shill… but my problem is that this is the way MS has been since day one, it’s the way MCE has been since day one. It’s the way most tech is done… it’s never perfect the first time around. My problem is that your site is now becoming a viable source of info on media center and I don’t want people coming to your site reading up on media center and HTPC’s and thinking that it’s all a POS and they shouldn’t even bother messing with it.

    I know it’s a fine line between being a shill and being a positive (but realistic) proponent of a technology… it just seems to me that lately it had become more of a forum for ranting and less a source of info.

  11. Al: A few things. It is never perfect the first time, but as these as second generation Extenders it should be much better.

    I don’t expect that it is the way Microsoft works, they can either take feedback and try to improve, or they can keep losing and upsetting their existing customers. I’ve been using Media Center since it first launched 5 years ago, and we are still not at the point it should be.

    I don’t think people should bother messing with Media Center and Extenders if they don’t do what they are looking for at the price. I don’t think anyone should waste money, and I believe it is crazy to promote that.

    Media Center is far from all that and a bag of chips. I’m not going to suggest people spend $1500 for a CableCARD PC and then another $1500 for Extenders to make it their whole home solution (as it as advertised to be) when it is too expensive for what you get.

    Again, I’m sorry that you are not interesting in reading my rants and whines, and I work hard to make sure that’s not all that it is. However, when new products launch that are not what the majority of consumers are expecting, I will continue to make sure people know what they can be used for and what they can’t, along with how much of a value they really are.

  12. I don’t blame Chris one bit for being disappointed and calling MS out on it. I feel the same way he does. The missteps they are making here with pricing and positioning of WHS and MCE extender are so blatant it’s mindboggling. I’m very frustrated with MS right now. I hate to see products and ideas with such potential go to waste because of the rank mismanagement being displayed here by MS.

  13. I’m all for calling MS out on things they are failing on… but I think it’s too easy to see only the bad side of things, especially when you are close to an issue.

    I’d like to see more of… these are the positives, these are the negatives. Lately it just seems like only negatives are being posted.

    …and I’ll be the first to admit my initial post was inflammatory. Calling you a whiner and comparing you to a ticked off teen was juvenile in itself. And just like your negative posts have been getting more of a reaction that I otherwise would have… I suppose it’s easier to go that route.

    My question is, is it more effective?

  14. Al: I’ll try and note more positives, however I have been talking about these v2 Extenders for years in the positive, but I have also said for years that they need to be price at $150-$200. Any more and they will fail, and I’m going to standby that. Over the past month I have highlighted the good (file formats) and the bad, and I really don’t see any reason to make a post only when I have something good to say. All of my posts are cataloged, and I really don’t have the time to go back and reiterate every single positive or negative point I have ever made.

    I just wrote a post a few days ago about how it would be nice if Microsoft would standardize formats across all of their platforms. I’d call that a positive and negative. I offered constructive criticism on their own products in a nice way. On Extenders, I also posted just a day ago about what you would change to make your perfect Extender. I don’t know how to be any more positive. I’ve supplied Microsoft and their partners with dozens of comments about what could be better, both from my end and the other users.

    I don’t write to get “noticed”. I just write how I feel about a product. If it gets more attention, that’s great. One thing I have learned is that other sites tend to pick up the bad side of Microsoft, not the good. No one is interested in reading the good. This is, unlike Apple or Linux where the goods generally outweighs the bad in terms of press. It is the way of the world and I can’t really control what other bloggers or administrator want to publish on their sites.

  15. I don’t believe in being positive for the sake of being positive…

    I’m not doing a great job of explaining myself here…

    It seems a number of your recent posts seemed like off the cuff negatives (Vista, some posts on AVS, the extenders, etc..). They didn’t seem like an overall view of the product that took a look at the overall good and bad.

    I’m just hoping you don’t turn into a one-sided emotion based zealot like a Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh… or any random WWF fan.

  16. I don’t think I’d pay $1 for home server with out media center installed.

    I don’t understand how they missed this. When ever I install enough applications on my PC Media Center gets messed up and eventually have to reformat and reinstall. WHS is Perfect for MC! It is a locked down platform that doesn’t even have a monitor!! MS could make it so that video played exclusivly on Extenders. You couldn’t get more secure then that!

    I am convinced you can’t have a stable media center PC, if you actually us it that is. Ever try an run Media Center while playing Flight SImulator X. Great way to tick off the wife/Home CFO.

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