Science & Technology

A SysAdmin in Every Rec Room


Is that the 21st century measure of the middle-class? Bill Gates and Microsoft evidently think so.

Gates and crew topped off an underwhelming performance at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, the Vegas saturnalia for geekdom, by pitching something called Windows Home Server. The idea is relatively simple and sorely needed: A way for digital-age families to manage all their digital media content, content which is almost surely spread across several devices and PCs.

Enter the Home Server. OK, how much does that cost? "Under $1000." Come again? A cool K, sans keyboard or monitor. Alright, so a big network drive for $1000.

Compare that to $225-250 for a 500GB add-on drive and $30 for some fairly robust, but still consumer-friendly network management software. Still might have to cobble together some back-up function to exactly match the Home Server's tool kit, but with at least $500 to play with, that should be no big issue.

Given this reality it sure seems like Gates and team need to rework their price-point. At under $500 the Home Server might have some value—provided it was butt-simple to drop into an existing network. But then Redmond would run the risk of seeing the Home Server deployed in small business situations, taking sales away from commercial-grade solutions.

Good thing Gates is retiring in 2008. Somebody else can figure this stuff out.