Vista Drivers for CX2620 finally up on Support.Gateway.Com

Click here for the whole list  (I’m not going to link deep to each driver since they may get updated in the future.)

Drivers have been posted for:

  •     D20035-001-001.exe – Windows Vista SATA/Mass Storage Controller version: Intel     
  •     D20003-002-002.exe – Windows Vista Media Card Reader Driver version: TI
  •     D00411-001-001V.exe – Windows Vista Modem Driver version: Conexant
  •     VIWLAN.exe – Vista Wireless Network Driver version: Intel
  •     FP441.exe – Gateway Windows Vista Finepoint Driver version: 4.4.1
  •     D00367-002-001V.exe – Gateway Windows Vista Button Drivers version: 6.0.6000.0300
  •     2KXPVDock.exe – Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista Cable Docking Driver version:
  •     VIPVAUDIO.exe – Windows Vista Conexant Audio Driver version:
  •     D20006-002-001.exe – Windows Vista Touchpad Driver version: Synaptics

Update: The one driver in this bunch that I’ve really been looking forward to is the Media Card Reader.  I installed it tonight and my machine Blue Screened within 5 minutes.  This is the only Blue Screen I have EVER had with the RTM version of Vista.  So the device has been disabled for now….  Has anyone had success with this driver?

Windows Home Server – Work in Progress

Let me preface this by saying that I understand that this is a Beta product, and therefore I am neither surprised or upset by current shortcomings.  The team that is developing WHS seems to be on top of things and I’m confident that they will close the gap with future builds.  From what I’ve seen so far, the Beta would work great for 95% of people.  I’m just in the other 5% right now.


After getting word that I would be included in the beta, I decided to get a new box to run WHS.  This was mostly due to the fact that I cleaned out my computer graveyard a few months back, and could not manage to scrounge together enough pieces to come anywhere near the minimum hardware specs.  I ended up getting a Dell E521, with a Gig of Ram and a 250GB Hard Drive.  I purposely omitted the Keyboard, Display and Mouse, and just planned to borrow these items from my desktop machine in order to complete the install.

When my machine arrived and I sat down to install WHS, I realized that there was no where to plug my PS/2 keyboard into the E521, and my PS/2 keyboard didn’t come with the magic USB adapter.  Rather than paying through the nose for a overfeatured keyboard at the local Best Buy, I ordered a cheap USB keyboard from Amazon.  A couple days later I was ready to roll.
The install process was easy, and took roughly 1 hour to complete.  You can see an exorbitant number of screen pics here.  There was no real questions to answer, so I had nothing better to do than to sit there and click away with the digital camera.  The Beta install has way to many reboots, and could go quicker. I’m hoping they can address this with image-based install after development settles down a bit.

After the server installation was complete, I returned the cannibalized parts to my desktop, and set out to install the connector software on my Laptop.  This installation went smoothly as well.  I was eager to start a backup, so I ran the “Backup Now” option from the connector tray icon.  A while later, I absentmindedly closed the lid of my laptop, which puts is to sleep.  After waking the laptop up, I saw an error message that indicated that the backup had failed because the TCP/IP connection had been terminated.  Restarted the backup, and left the machine plugged in and open overnight so that it would complete.

The real test for WHS would come from my desktop machine.  This machine has a failing hard disk.  It has had 2 episodes of corrupted data (fixed by chkdsk/f).  I was excited about getting this machine backed up for several reasons. Most of the important data from this machine is being backed up via FolderShare, but it’s hard to know when you’ve captured everything.  Also, I don’t know if a disk error is going to corrupt files and then have the changes get copied through FolderShare.  The other reason is that a good backup to WHS would mean I could swap in a new hard drive and restore everything in short order.  To put this in perspective, the desktop is the machine that my wife uses.  It holds her data, her email contacts & archives.  Unless it’s in her Hotmail account, it’s on this computer.  In other words, this machine is at least 10 times as important as my laptop.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like WHS Beta 2 is going to save this machine.  At least not yet.

The connector software installed just fine.  Everything appears normal.  Since my Laptop was in the process of backing up, I figured I’d just leave the Desktop to start automatically overnight.  In the morning I checked the desktop and it was displaying an error about the backup failing.  A check in the event log shows a FileNotFoundException.  I figure that maybe the disk had choked again, so I ran it through another round of ChkDsk with all the options.  ChkDsk ran clean, without indicating any errors, so I started the backup again, only to have it fail in the same manner.

I’ve tried hitting this from a few different angles, but no matter what I try, I still get either the FileNotFoundException error, or a Volume Shadow Copy Service error.  I’ve filed a bug report and provided logs, but have not heard anything back yet.

I don’t want to whine too loudly because I know the hardware is going bad, but I do want to point out that recovering from errors gracefully should be a top priority for the WHS team.  By gracefully I mean that the software should probably alert the user to the problem, but then continue the backup.  In the case of the failing hard drive, it’s even more important to backup whatever files you can!  In the case of my laptop, interruptions in network connectivity ate the norm for WiFi, and I would guess that most of the target market is using WiFi for their home network.

Now that I’ve finished griping, I would like to offer some positive impressions.  Overall, the functionality is very simple to set up.  The user interaction required for the server and connector setup has been stripped to the bare minimum, and that is a good thing since less questions means less opportunities for mistakes.  The only interaction that stands out as possibly a bit difficult or error prone is the selection of a server password.  An option to save a generated key to a USB stick or burn it to a CD would be a welcome alternative (Sort of like the Wireless Network Setup Wizard in XP or Vista).  But remember or writing down one password is a pretty low bar to set considering the functionality that WHS provides.

The user interface is attractive.  The colors are an interesting mix of MCE and Vista stylings.  So far most things are pretty obvious and intuitive.

As soon as I figure a good secondary backup method, I’ll be moving a lot more of my files into the WHS Shared Folders.  I’m not comfortable trusting the family photo album entirely to the Beta software yet, but I’m going to keep trying to expand my habits to include WHS functions where I can.

I’ll include more thoughts, rants, etc. when I have time to pull together another post. If you are interested in getting in to the Beta, you can sign up for consideration, and there’s also a publicly accessible community forum site.

Windows Home Server, On pause

In a great convergence of events, my new Dell E521 showed up today, and my Beta 2 discs showed up in the mail.  I ordered the E521 without a keyboard, mouse, or monitor, and just planned on borrowing these from my desktop.

I hit a snag because although I have two keyboards on the desktop, one has a PS/2 connector, and the other is Bluetooth.  I went to plug in the PS/2 keyboard and found that there is no PS/2 connectors on the new E521. 

On a whim, I figured I’d try throwing the WHS install DVD into the machine and to see if there was some way to bootstrap the install.  My router doesn’t show the machine getting a DHCP address, and the Connector install can’t find the server either, so I think I’m out of luck on that angle. 

(It would be a great feature if the DVD would boot a basic remote desktop that you could hit, or if it would start something that the Connector could hook up to in order to do an install without KVM.) 

So, the Beta experience is on hold until I can pick up a cheap USB keyboard.

Windows Home Server, Part 4 – Technology

I recently had the opportunity to discuss Windows Home Server with Charlie Kindel, Microsoft’s General Manager for the Windows Home Server product. We had an email dialogue, followed by a phone conversation. I’ve pulled together four posts based on our dialogue. I hope to fill in a few areas where the publically available information is a little thin. This is the last post of a 4 part series. (Links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)


RH: It is interesting that you opted for a Rich Client vs. Web Interface for the admin panel.  How was this decision made?  Was the connector built using the .Net Framework?  What version?  What language (C#, C++, VB.Net?)  Are there any particular technologies that really shined?

CEK: When building a configuration/admin user experience (Ux) for a network node, one has to consider the following:

– How important is “reach”; that is, how important is it that you have broad multi-platform support?  Windows Home Server is designed to improve the experience in households with multiple PCs. And, especially in v1, our solution is very focused on PCs that are running a modern version of Windows. Therefore the requirement for “reach” does not bubble high up on our list of priorities.

– How important is a “great UI”?  Certainly one can easily build “good” UIs in DHTML, but building “great” UIs is hard. It is even harder to build great UIs in Ajax.  We felt it was super important to create a great UI.

– Designing protocols is hard. Assuming one was to build an admin UI with a rich UI framework (e.g. WinForms/Win32) and run it on the client, what would the protocol back to the server look like? For the Ux to be great it has to be bi-directional and performant. The RDP protocol already exists and is very robust.

– Is 3rd party extensibility important? If so, how do you build your extensibility model?

These, factors, and many others led us to implement the Windows Home Server Console as a rich Win32 application (using .NET and WinForms) that runs on the server, but is remoted to the client using the RDP protocol. This allows us to provide a very rich Ux without inventing new Ux remoting protocols, while being able to provide a great 3rd party extensibility story.

RH: Is there any email story other than file-level backup?

CEK: Nope.


Further Discussion:

Charlie and I talked a bit about how Windows Home Server can be extended by developers. They are planning on releasing an API that will let developers plug into “Peter’s” experience (Check out the Channel9 Video for a description of the Peter persona). Basically they want to let people build into the user-friendly interface to solve different problems like home automation, media, etc.

Windows Home Server, Part 3 – Business / Marketing

I recently had the opportunity to discuss Windows Home Server with Charlie Kindel, Microsoft’s General Manager for the Windows Home Server product. We had an email dialogue, followed by a phone conversation. I’ve pulled together four posts based on our dialogue. I hope to fill in a few areas where the publically available information is a little thin. This is part 3 of a 4 part series. (Links to Part 1, Part 2)

Business / Marketing

RH: Why did you decide to keep it under wraps?  Other than some comments by Bob Muglia and Paul Thurrott, this was extremely stealthy compared to most other Microsoft projects.  How did you pull it off?

CEK: From the very beginning we knew the concept was a “big idea”. We felt it was important that our initial disclosure had “pop” and the only way to achieve that was through keeping it a secret as long as possible and then having a significant announcement event. 

The fact that literally thousands of Microsoft employees have known about “Q” for more than 2 years, and the fact that have an internal Beta program with hundreds of participants is a testament to the integrity and spirit of Microsoft employees. We were very open with them about our plans, and simply (frequently) requested that they honor what we were trying to accomplish and keep the secret. They did.  I’ve been at Microsoft over 16 years and I pretty much love this company. I’m proud of many things we’ve accomplished as a company, but one of the things I am now most proud of is the way our employees dealt with the “secret of Q”. I especially love the fact that this is in stark contrast to how other companies work to keep secrets.

RH: How did Home Server get started?  Was it a top-down strategic push, or was there a lower level champion for the idea?

CEK: Egads. This is a long story that I am working on writing up for a blog post on my blog.  The short story is:  It started from the bottom up back in 1999 when I was running the Consumer Windows home networking team.  Windows Home Server is my fourth attempt to get it done at Microsoft (Quattro means 4 in Italian). Those 8 years of effort created both a groundswell of grass roots interest as well as an understanding of the strategic and visionary importance from the top.

RH: We’ve heard about HP.  I know you probably can’t name specific OEMs, but can you give an estimate as to the number of OEMs that will be on board when this launches? Are we going to see something from the likes of Dell or Gateway?

CEK: We are not prepared to say anything more than we said in our announcement at CES at this time.

RH: Have you thought about developing a certification program for certifying installers to set this up for people who are still intimidated?

CEK: Yes.


Further Discussion:

I tried to get some more details out of Charlie regarding future plans and features. Charlie indicated that while they have a lot of ideas that they would like to address beyond version one of Windows Home Server, they are really trying to wait to see how the market reacts to the product, and get feedback from real customers before they make decisions. Beyond that they are very focused on getting V1 out the door.

I also asked if they might be looking at a different SKU for the SOHO market that would make use of the technology they have developed for Home Server. Charlie explained that the Home Office market is one of the areas they are trying to serve with WHS. Basically if a business is being run out of the home, it can take advantage of all of the features of WHS.


Mary Jo covered some of these same topics today here and here.

Windows Home Server, Part 2 – User Management

I recently had the opportunity to discuss Windows Home Server with Charlie Kindel, Microsoft’s General Manager for the Windows Home Server product. We had an email dialogue, followed by a phone conversation. I’ve pulled together four posts based on our dialogue. I hope to fill in a few areas where the publically available information is a little thin. This is part 2 of a 4 part series. (Link to Part 1)

User Management

RH: I’m kinda disappointed that there isn’t a centralized user store in this edition.  You mentioned somewhere (C9 I think) that this was considered early on, but abandoned because of complexity. Is this something that might come along in a future release, or perhaps released out-of-band so that the Sam’s of the world (Check out the Channel9 Video for a description of the Sam persona) can have a mini AD at home?

CEK: Shipping is a feature too. 🙂  There are tons of technical issues which make delivering an Active Directory based solution in the home hard. But the biggest issue is the fact that the Windows client SKUs for the home are limited in this regard.  Remember, that we have a philolsophy that says “If we can’t do it right, we shouldn’t do it in a particular release”.  It is absolutely on our roadmap to climb this mountain in the future.

RH: Is there any support for centralized parental controls, specifically web use monitoring, content filtering, and usage restrictions?

CEK: We believe this is an important scenario and will enable it in the future. Again, there is ample opportunity for 3rd parties to add value here.

Windows Home Server, Part 1 – Security of Data, User Privacy

I recently had the opportunity to discuss Windows Home Server with Charlie Kindel, Microsoft’s General Manager for the Windows Home Server product. We had an email dialogue, followed by a phone conversation. I’ve pulled together four posts based on our dialogue. I hope to fill in a few areas where the publically available information is a little thin. 

Security of Data, User Privacy.

RH: Can I password protect files on the Server? Basically, I’m wondering if there are any provisions for maintaining the privacy of data on the Server.  Not all families want to share everything that they have on their PCs with the whole family.

CEK: Yes, each shared folder can have per-user permissions set. By default, Windows Home Server provides shared folders for Photos, Music, Videos, Software, and Public. For each user account you create, Windows Home Server also creates a shared folder for that user. By default only that user has permissions to his/her shared folder.

RH: Can I exclude data from being backed up by the connector (tricky considering the whole-pc backup)?  

CEK: Yes. This is one of the very innovative capabilities we provide, and really enables the scenario to work well.  By default we automatically exclude the hibernation file, pagefile, temp directories, and offline file caches.

RH: What protections are there for theft of data? Can I encrypt sections of the server disks so that if the Home Server is stolen, the data would be protected?

CEK: This is a capability that is on our roadmap for the future.

RH: Are there provisions for Off-site storage of backups?

CEK: We are not discussing the details of this at this point in time, and Beta 2 will not include this capability, but addressing this is very high on our list of priorities.  Regardless of what we do in ourselves in the first release of the product, there is a great opportunity for 3rd parties to provide value added services in this area.