Since Windows Home Server was released as a product through the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer or “hardware manufacturer”) and System Builder channels the primary support responsibilities fall on the OEMs and System Builders. Our OEMs work closely with Microsoft through their Technical Account Managers (TAMs) and the Microsoft Support team to escalate issues, provide “repro” (reproduction) steps, collect logs and other information.
A good place to get started and learn about all of the resources available to you is through the Support for Windows Home Server page available from the Microsoft web site. It has links to the Getting Started Guide, Reviewer’s Guide, Release Documentation, Technical Briefs, Knowledge Base articles and lots more.
System Builders often leverage online resources to learn and figure things out. The Windows Home Server Community Forums are testament to the learning process, as some people have a hard time learning what hardware they should use, and others are trying to learn the ins and outs of the Windows Home Server software. And others are learning how to extend the functionality of their home server offerings through the Developers forum that discusses tips for building Add-Ins.
The Windows Home Server team works closely with the Microsoft Support team to understand the issues and escalate when necessary. The key thing for the development team is to be able to know how to “repro” an issue – which often includes a lot of details, about the home computer, home network, home server hardware, relevant logs and the exacts steps that a user is taking and the exact text of all error messages. The Windows Home Server Toolkit was released to help the OEM and Microsoft Support teams to be able to collect logs and other information from a user’s home computers and home servers. You can download the toolkit to your home computer from the Microsoft Download Center.
Without a “repro” it is really hard to start working on a fix, as you need to have isolated an issue so that when you have a fix, then you can use the “repro” environment and exact steps to test the new software to see if it addresses the issue.
The Windows Home Server team keeps an eye on the community forums and tries to understand specific issues in greater detail. Sometimes people are willing to work with the team to isolate the issue, and other times they simply disappear before the team can get enough data and details to learn about the persons’ unique environment and exact “repro” steps.
The Windows Home Server Support team manages a Solution Center for the product that provides links to the Knowledge Base articles and also the provides the ability to download the Windows Home Server monthly updates that are delivered as part of the Windows Update process. Knowledge Base articles are used to share tips with Windows Home Server users and to describe issues with the product. You can sign up for an RSS feed so that you get notified anytime a new Knowledge Base article for Windows Home Server is published.
Consumers who purchase their home server solution through an OEM or System Builder should contact the hardware manufacturer (OEM) or system builder for support. System builders and consumers can call Microsoft Support at (800) 936-5700 to get support directly from Microsoft. The cost for these calls is $79 US per support request during normal business hours. The current model for these support calls is to “Charge on Close”, which means that the customer will be charged at the end of the call. There are a few types of calls that end up being in the “Do not apply charge” arena, these are:
· Issue Not Resolved: The customer states that the issue for which they paid for a resolution is still occurring and cannot be resolved.
· Product Failure: You are able to confirm that the customer’s issue is a known/reported “Bug”.
Hopefully, that helps you understand the product support resources at your disposal and the process of how things work behind the scenes.